April 28, 2023

An East End Missed Opportunity

Earlier this week, I was informed by a fellow concerned Torontonian – Kaila Hunte – that Broadview Avenue from Danforth Avenue to Gerrard Street would see streetcar track replacement and road resurfacing later this year with a virtual information session happening on Thursday, May 4 at 6:30 PM. Unfortunately, nothing for people biking was proposed as part of this project which represents the latest missed opportunity to make streets safer during construction. Another similar problem was raised by Cycle Toronto in Summer 2021 with the reconstruction of O’Connor Drive from St. Clair Avenue East to Bermondsey Road despite a requirement to take a complete streets approach by default as part of the 2019 Vision Zero update.

Map of Broadview Avenue construction (via City of Toronto)

As with that stretch of O’Connor, Broadview was not included as part of the 2016 Cycling Network Plan nor the 2019 Major City-Wide Cycling Route map. While I understand it would not be realistic to accommodate people biking with such short notice, there are three reasons which makes revisiting Broadview worthwhile in the near future.

Map of 2019 Major City-Wide Cycling Network (via City of Toronto)

The first is the Broadview Avenue Extension from Eastern Avenue to Lake Shore Boulevard which would include raised cycle tracks. They would help provide connectivity with the future East Harbour transit hub, as well as new development at the former Unilever site. The cycle tracks would then be extended north to Queen Street. Why not keep on going north to Danforth (and beyond)?

Design option for the Broadview Avenue Extension (via City of Toronto)

The second is the TransformTO goal of requiring 75% of trips under five kilometres to be done without a car by 2030. Even if the Major City-Wide Cycling Network proposed in 2019 were to be fully built, there would still be significant gaps. Achieving the TransformTO goal could require an even denser network so that every Torontonian could be within one kilometre of a protected bike lane. This would include adding east-west bikeways along Steeles Avenue, Ellesmere – York Mills – Wilson – Albion, St. Clair, and The Queensway; along with several north-south routes. Building this network would require an additional 600 kilometres of protected bike lanes; including upgrading existing painted bike lanes. Works out to 75 kilometres per year per Gil Penalosa's 2022 election platform.

Last, but not least, the east end needs its own cycling grid. There is a lack of a second north-south route north of Danforth Avenue; for which a bikeway along Donlands Avenue was suggested for study as part of the 2022-24 Near Term Plan. Even with the completion of Donlands, Broadview would still be a great candidate to complete the grid. Especially considering the incomplete nature of the Logan bikeway.

The next Near-Term Cycling Implementation Plan is expected to cover the 2025 to 2027 timeframe. With a decision needed sometime next year, it’s worth asking what kind of cycling network is needed to achieve TransformTO’s goals. Certain bikeways such as the College extension have already been approved for addition, while Parkside Drive could be featured depending on public consultation. Adding the remainder of Bloor, Danforth-Kingston, and Yonge would fulfill one of Community Bikeways’ road safety calls to action. Finally, there is a need to improve the follow through of the “complete streets by default” approach to prevent other missed opportunities such as Broadview and O’Connor from happening again.

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