May 22, 2023

Revisiting the Eglinton East LRT

Happy Victoria Day!

Back in November 2017, I wrote about the City’s plans to implement an eastern extension of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT from Kennedy Station to UTSC and eventually to Malvern Town Centre. At the time, I argued it could become a game changer for cycling in Scarborough given the light rail line would also see bike lanes brought deep into Scarborough. Thanks to Hafeez Alavi, I was informed the City will be restarting consultations for the project on May 30, June 1, and June 7. Let’s find out what has changed since then.

Map of Eglinton East LRT and focus areas (all images are via the City of Toronto unless otherwise mentioned)

The first significant change is the Eglinton East LRT would no longer become an extension of the Crosstown LRT unlike the western extension currently under construction, but instead operate as a separate line due to design conflicts with the Scarborough subway extension. Possibly as Line 7. The routing of the project now not only includes the extension to Malvern Town Centre, but also a further western extension to the Scarborough subway terminus at Sheppard and McCowan where the Ford government – and Mayoral Candidate Mitzie Hunter – want to see the Line 4 Sheppard subway extended towards.

People who bike will be pleased to see the street design has been overhauled to include raised cycle tracks along the entire route as opposed to painted bike lanes with the previous plan. Here are a couple of design renderings confirming this.

Four traffic lanes will be maintained for most of the project except for two lanes at Neilson Road (from Sheppard Avenue East to Malvern Town Centre) and Morningside Avenue from Ellesmere to Kingston Roads.

There are two pinch points at Eglinton GO station and at the Highland Creek Bridge where the cycle track and sidewalk will need to be merged into multi-use paths. This treatment was done on Eglinton Avenue under the railway tracks between Leslie Street and Don Mills Road.

From a connectivity standpoint, the Eglinton East LRT would be well positioned to serve the planned Danforth-Kingston complete street extension (sign the petition), the Scarborough Golf Club Road bikeway, and the Durham-Scarborough BRT. However, the cycle tracks would need to be continuous along all of Morningside despite the short diversion into UTSC, while the existing bike lanes on Sheppard from Morningside to Kingston Road would need to be upgraded to cycle tracks to be consistent with the LRT as well as the planned reconstruction of Port Union Road. Here is a map I created showing how the proposed bikeways would connect with the Eglinton East LRT, as well as some additional suggested bikeways.

Orange = Eglinton East LRT
Purple = Planned bikeways on Danforth-Kingston, Scarborough Golf Club, Durham-Scarborough BRT, and Port Union
Light Blue = Suggested new bikeways on Brimley, Lawrence, Ellesmere-York Mills, Sheppard, and Morningside

While it remains unknown when construction would start – a second round of consultation would be needed in late 2023 – there are several additional corridors that would need to be looked at to expand Scarborough’s cycling grid beyond what the Eglinton East LRT would have to offer.

  1. Morningside Avenue from Sheppard to Steeles Avenues given the proposed road extension from McNicoll to Passmore Avenues and existing multi-use path near the Amazon fulfillment centre.
  2. Sheppard Avenue East from McCowan Road to Leslie Street given the planned bike lanes from Bonnington Place (just east of Yonge Street) to Leslie Street.
  3. Reinstating Brimley Road where bike lanes were removed from Kingston Road to Lawrence Avenue five months after installation in 2020, as well as extending them across Highway 401 all the way to Steeles Avenue.
  4. Ellesmere Road from McCowan Road to at least Brimley Road if those bike lanes were to be reinstated with the potential for further extensions along York Mills Road and Wilson Avenue. A short stretch already exists near Leslie Street as a connector for the Don River trail system.
  5. Lawrence Avenue from Port Union Road to Victoria Park Avenue (and beyond) – part of which Hafeez has been advocating for with his Lawrence Prospect campaign.

One final concern I have is with the intersections. The proposed intersection design does not contain protected corner islands or even left turn boxes. There is a need for Toronto to be more consistent with the implementation of Dutch style protected intersections.

Transit and road safety advocates – especially those who live in Scarborough – are encouraged to register for either of these public consultations with a respective focus on Eglinton Avenue East (May 30), Morningside Avenue and UTSC (June 1), and Sheppard Avenue East and Malvern Town Centre (June 7). If you are unable to attend, you can review the presentation materials and submit your feedback by Wednesday, June 21.

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