February 04, 2022

February Consultations and Protecting Vulnerable Road Users

The month of February is shaping up to be a busy one for Toronto’s cycling community with three public consultations planned for next week. These include proposed bikeways on Bartlett-Havelock-Gladstone in downtown, Scarborough Golf Club, and Sentinel in North York. As Queen’s Park resumes later this month, the Protecting Vulnerable Road Users Act (Bill 54) will be a main focal point. Let’s take a look at these projects and how you can do your part to make them happen.

Havelock and Bloor intersection rendering (via City of Toronto)


In December 2020, 23 year old Alex Amaro was killed while biking at Dufferin Street and Sylvan Avenue. Despite calls for improved safety on Dufferin since then, dedicated bike lanes are not expected anytime soon given Dufferin has been short listed for RapidTO bus lanes which allow bikes and currently exist on Eglinton East. Since riding in a bus lane isn’t very comforting, the next best proposal is a series of contraflow bike lanes along Gladstone, Havelock, and Bartlett from Queen to Davenport. A virtual public meeting for the Davenport to College section is scheduled for Thursday, February 10 (6:00 PM) while a separate consultation will be held later this winter for south of College. Comments are due on Thursday, February 24.

Proposed traffic diversion at Lindsey-Gladstone (via City of Toronto)

This project will build on the existing Gladstone contraflow – part of the Argyle-Florence bikeway – which will be extended to Peel later this year, while painted bike lanes will be added from Peel to Minowan Miikan Lane (just before Queen). The Lindsey-Gladstone intersection will use a diagonal traffic diverter which forces motorists to turn but allows cyclists to continue straight; similar to the traffic diversion that exists on Shaw Street. Motor vehicle traffic will switch directions every 1 – 2 blocks, while new traffic signals will be added at Davenport and Dupont. The Bloor bike lane will become bi-directional on the north side to connect Bartlett and Havelock.

Scarborough Golf Club

Map of proposed Scarborough Golf Club bikeway (via City of Toronto)

Scarborough has struggled to get north-south bike lanes installed; having removed those installed on Birchmount, Pharmacy, and Brimley over the past decade. However, the recently approved bike plan calls for bikeways along the Scarborough stretch of Danforth, as well as Kingston and Ellesmere Roads (as part of the Durham-Scarborough BRT). Scarborough Golf Club will connect those two bikeways, as well as two schools on the street – Golf Road Junior Public School and Tecumseh Senior Public School – and retail establishments near Lawrence. This meeting – which will not focus as much on street design – will take place on Thursday, February 10 (6:30 PM) while the survey deadline is Friday, February 25.
Metrolinx's Durham-Scarborough BRT street plans reveal a protected intersection could be installed at Scarborough Golf Club

The stretch from Lawrence to Ellesmere is 15.2 metres wide and expected to be reconstructed in 2023-24. Quick builds will be done from Lawrence to Confederation Drive which is also 15.2 metres. The Confederation to Kingston segment is narrow at 9.6 metres; meaning a bi-directional cycle track or painted uni-directional bike lanes are more likely. At least one protected intersection is being considered which would likely be at Ellesmere per the Durham Scarborough BRT’s environmental report. Those wishing to comment on the BRT’s environmental report have until Tuesday, February 22 to do so.

Sentinel Reconstruction

Rendering of Sentinel Road reconstruction (via City of Toronto)

Sentinel Road currently has bike lanes from The Pond to Dovehouse Roads, as well as narrow 1.5 metre sidewalks. The planned 2023 reconstruction from Sheppard to Lamberton will allow for the bike lanes to be extended (and upgraded) to raised cycle tracks, as well as sidewalks to be widened to the recommended 2.1 metres. Most of the right of way is 26 metres wide which would allow for trees on both sides and cycle tracks placed next to sidewalks, though some stretches with existing trees will require the cycle track to be placed next to the roadway. A couple of pinch points with 20 metre right of ways exist south of Dovehouse; meaning trees would be planted on one side to accommodate raised cycle tracks on both sides. Pedestrians can also look forward to raised crosswalks all along Sentinel which would improve visibility and slow down drivers. Let’s hope this treatment can be extended all the way to The Pond soon.

The meeting will take place on Wednesday, February 9 (6:30 PM) while the survey deadline is Wednesday, February 23.

Protecting Vulnerable Road Users (VRU’s)

The Protecting Vulnerable Road Users Act (a.k.a. Bill 54) passed second reading unanimously on November 24, 2021 and will go to the Standing Committee on Justice Policy; hopefully later this month or in March. For those of you not familiar with the bill, it was first proposed by former NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo in September 2017 and calls for the following whenever pedestrians or cyclists get killed:

  • Mandatory court attendance for victim impact statements
  • Driver re-education
  • Community service related to road safety
  • License suspension until the above conditions are met

Currently, drivers who kill or seriously injure VRU’s get away with small fines. One such survivor – Jess Spieker of Friends and Families for Safe Streets – was seriously injured at Bathurst north of Eglinton in 2015, yet the driver who struck her got away with a $300 fine. I first found out about this injustice from Patrick Brown; a critical injury lawyer and founder of Bike Law Canada who has seen similar outcomes when representing numerous cyclists. The only time I recall prison time being sentenced for killing a VRU was when Adam Excell was killed in 2015 given the driver fled the scene (which is a criminal offence).

Everyone can be a vulnerable road user per the VRU Coalition's story map put together by Ingrid B

The Vulnerable Road User Coalition – consisting of organizations such as Cycle Toronto, Walk Toronto, United Senior Citizens of Ontario, and others – recently launched a tool you can use to message your MPP, Premier Doug Ford, and Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney urging them to pass Bill 54. Over 1000 people have done so at the time of writing, but please keep spreading the word.

Once a date has been set for committee hearings, members of the public can apply to speak to the committee or send written comments. The big question remaining is will Bill 54 pass Third Reading – the final vote – and receive Royal Assent before the June 2 provincial election is officially called?

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