March 25, 2021

(Finally) Filling the Winona Gap

For the past few years, one of my biggest complaints about biking in Toronto is the lack of north-south routes north of Davenport. Especially considering my office is at Dufferin and Lawrence which meant riding on steep hills on Caledonia or going the wrong way at times between St. Clair and Eglinton. Finally, the City of Toronto hosted a public consultation on Monday, March 22 for a contraflow bike lane on Winona which could be installed as early as this June or July.

The previous public consultations for cycling in the Oakwood neighbourhood in 2019 focused mainly on Northcliffe and Glenholme, as well as extending the one-way bike lane on Vaughan Road. During those consultations, the feedback was clear that Winona needed to be the priority while the City deferred its decision between Northcliffe and Glenholme. The City did put in a quiet street on Winona last year, but I found the implementation on one-way streets such as Winona to be pointless while public opinion on the Winona quiet streets was mixed overall. There appeared to be strong support for the Winona proposal upon listening to some of the questions that came up.
Map of proposed changes to Winona before taking into account additional traffic calming (via City of Toronto)

A contraflow bike is not the only thing the City is focused on. They are also looking at changing the direction on Winona and other streets near Vaughan Road Academy (Option 2) to reduce thru traffic to a point where Winona could become a neighbourhood greenway with less than 75 vehicles per peak hour. These direction changes – specifically making Winona one-way southbound from Belvidere to Vaughan – will provide an improved solution for pick ups and drop offs near the school as opposed to the default option of having the bike lane between the traffic and parking lane (Option 1).

Proposed traffic diversion near the Vaughan Road Academy (via City of Toronto)

Another change is proposed near McMurrich Junior and Winona Drive Senior Public Schools in which the road would become one-way northbound between Tyrell and Benson with a southbound contraflow bike lane. (Option 3) The City mentioned Options 2 and 3 can be done together if the consultation feedback warrants it. I would support doing both options which would ensure the most effective traffic diversion possible. The default option (#1) would put in sharrows on Winona between Davenport and St. Clair, as well as on Tyrrel, Hillcrest, and Bracondale. A portion of Davenport would be converted to a bi-directional cycle track to connect to the Shaw-Davenport intersection which will get a traffic signal. From what I understand, the bi-directional will go from Shaw to Bracondale, but I feel the City should extend the treatment to Winona to provide a more direct route.

Option 3 south of St. Clair can be done in conjunction with Option 2 near Vaughan Road (via City of Toronto)

One issue I flagged – as did several others – is the Winona and Eglinton intersection. While city staff mentioned nothing could be done until Metrolinx finished the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, they would consider making improvements to help provide a seamless connection to the existing bike lanes on Marlee. Some people asked questions regarding the wider parts of Winona in terms of whether they can be upgraded with protection due to frequent bike lane blocking near the schools, while some asked why bi-directional cycle tracks were not considered (which the City said was due to there being too many driveways). Other questions asked include potential connections to the existing Rogers Road bike lanes, traffic diversion studies on streets such as Alberta and Oakwood, consultation with other nearby schools, and additional traffic calming measures.

Marlee at Eglinton is certainly wide enough to fit in cycle tracks for one block

Once the Winona contraflow gets completed, there remains a short stretch of Marlee from Eglinton to Roselawn which does not have bike lanes. The one block from Eglinton to Livingstone is 14 metres wide and has a huge buffer which can easily be converted to protected bike lanes. Livingstone to Roselawn is 8.6 metres wide which is too narrow for regular bike lanes, but could make a good candidate for an advisory bike lane which Ottawa uses.

An advisory bike lane rendering for Marlee from Livingstone to Roselawn

The deadline to submit your feedback is Monday, April 5. The Winona contraflow bike lanes are expected to come to the Infrastructure and Environment Committee on May 25, 2021 and then to City Council on June 8, 2021 with installation happening shortly after. Assuming all goes well, it will not be long until midtown cyclists will be able to enjoy a serious north-south cycling connection from Lawrence to the Waterfront and one which local councillor Josh Matlow has nicknamed the "Winona Rider."

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