May 17, 2021

It’s Time for a Safer Parkside

Since the Toronto Community Bikeways Coalition was formed last May, one of their primary asks has been to put in a bikeway along Weston Road and Keele Street from Cardell Avenue to Bloor Street. However, Keele continues onto Parkside Drive from Bloor to Lake Shore Boulevard which is a fast moving arterial and unpleaseant for those who walk or bike. Earlier this month, the Sunnyside Community Association held a Zoom meeting in which many of the more than 40 people in attendance were supportive of safety improvements on Parkside including bike lanes. A separate Facebook group called “Safe Parkside” was also organized around this issue.

A pedestrian crossover is needed at Parkside for this trail immediately north of The Queensway

In its current form, Parkside Drive is a 12.8 metre wide major arterial with four traffic lanes and a 50 km/h speed limit. However, observed speeds are much faster with 70 km/h not being uncommon and the road serves as a key access point for Lake Shore and the Gardiner Expressway. The east curb lane (northbound) is used for parking, but is not allowed from 4:00 to 6:00 PM from Monday to Friday. A sidewalk is available only on the east side which – at 1.5 metres wide – is too narrow for two people to comfortably pass each other; something even more problematic with COVID-19.
Existing layout of Parkside Drive

From a cycling standpoint, there are two problematic intersections. A multi-use trail immediately north of The Queensway crosses Parkside but does not have a pedestrian crossover. People walking or biking who wish not to jaywalk have to go 110 metres north to the traffic signal at Spring Road and come back down before continuing. To avoid having people bike on the sidewalk, a pedestrian crossover is urgently needed. If one can be put in at Roncesvalles and Westminster Avenues – only 100 metres north of the traffic signal at High Park Boulevard – there is no excuse not to put one in.

The other intersection lies at Lake Shore and Parkside. The pedestrian signal for crossing the eastbound lanes of Lake Shore takes forever to change and many people – myself included – cross it illegally to get to and from the Martin Goodman Trail. The four slip lanes and complex signalling also encourage unnecessarily fast motor vehicle traffic and excessive land use. I would recommend two actions here. The slip lanes need to be replaced with a T intersection in the short term, while a longer term solution would involve moving the eastbound Lake Shore lanes north so they are adjacent to the westbound ones. The parking lot for Palais Royale and Sunnyside Beach would need to be realigned as well which would help expand available park land, while the ramp from the Roncesvalles pedestrian bridge to the Palais Royale parking lot would need to be removed for this to work.

A reimagining of Lake Shore at Parkside including the realignment of the intersection and eastbound lanes (in brown) to allow for expanded park land

Per a post from Tyrenny Anderson – one of the group admins – there are three requests the group has put together.

  1. Allow cars to remain parked between 4:00 and 6:00 PM to create a protective physical barrier between cars and pedestrians.
  2. Enforce the speed limit and honour the community safety zone designation for all cars traveling on Parkside Drive.
  3. Review the design of Parkside Drive to ensure it meets safety requirements. Commit to upgrades that will make the street safer and better to use for pedestrians and cyclists.

Given there are limited crossings on the west side of Parkside, the ideal solution would be to replace the southbound curb lane with a multi-use trail, while the eastbound curb lane would be converted and narrowed into a 24-hour parking zone with the extra width used to widen the sidewalk. Two traffic lanes would be maintained while the speed limit should be reduced to 40 km/h as has been done on other major arterials within Toronto – East York.

A proposed layout for Parkside including a multi-use trail and a wider sidewalk

The fact many residents in Sunnyside and Roncesvalles support a safer Parkside provides justification to include Parkside as part of a bikeway along Keele and Weston for an eleven kilometre continuous north-south route from the Waterfront to just before Highway 401. Having biked by Weston on Saturday to get my COVID-19 vaccine – which I encourage you to do as soon as possible if you haven’t yet – I can confirm the need for a bikeway there to give Weston and Mount Dennis residents safe transportation options. Especially with those neighbourhoods having higher than average COVID-19 cases and the 41 Keele and 35 Jane bus routes being among the busiest during the pandemic.

2 comments:

  1. Great article. A cycling route from Lakeshore all the way up Keele/Weston is a strong vision. Parkside could certainly use a road diet and I support your proposal for a multi-use trail on the west side and a wider sidewalk on the east side.

    The southern end of Parkside is a disaster for pedestrians and cyclists, with cars coming at high speeds off the Lakeshore. The twelve lanes of traffic shared by Lakeshore and the Gardiner could also use a road diet, but barring that, your reconfiguration of the area around this intersection is a good solution. Eliminating the slip lanes could make a big difference.

    A raised crosswalk for that pedestrian crossing north of Queensway could reinforce slower speeds on Parkside.

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  2. You raise some important issues in your article. I agree that changes need to be made to increase safety but I certainly don't think traffic should be constrained to fewer lanes. I live a couple of houses off oc Parkside and can assure you that the air pollution from cars and trucks is already horrible. Having more idling cars giving off fumes and heat is the last thing we need. What is needed is a speed limit of 40 kph as on many other major roads in Toronto, enforced by the consistent use of speed cameras. We do not need initiatives that will create more pollution.

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