February 24, 2024

Finally … A Much-Needed Parkdale Connection

Having used to live in Parkdale and Roncesvalles for more than a decade, I can vouch for how common wrong way riding on Seaforth Avenue is given there isn’t a safe (and legal) way to bike west of Brock Street in Parkdale without using Queen. Members of the former Cycle Toronto Ward 14 group (and the Parkdale High Park Bikes group that replaced it) have called to have this situation fixed for years. Finally, the City of Toronto plans to host a public consultation about the West Parkdale Cycling Connections on Tuesday, March 5 (5-8 PM) at The Parkdale Hall (1605 Queen Street West) to address this gap in the cycling network. Let’s go through the project by dividing it into three segments.

Map of West Parkdale Cycling Connections (via City of Toronto)

Brock to Galley Avenues

One common traffic feature in Parkdale is how a fair number of one-way streets – including Seaforth and Macdonell Avenues – are only six metres wide which is too narrow to accommodate contraflow bike lanes without removing parking. The City tried to put in a contraflow on Dowling Avenue a few years back to connect with the pedestrian and cycling bridge to the Waterfront, but there was a lot of resistance to removing parking on that street. Instead, alternating sharrows were put in on Dowling and Beaty Avenues.

A City of Toronto rendering of the previously proposed contraflow on Dowling

However, the City of Toronto did a traffic change at Dupont Street and Edwin Avenue in late 2014 or early 2015 in which motorists couldn’t drive south on Edwin from Dupont, but cyclists were allowed to even without a contraflow bike lane. This is the kind of change that will also be implemented on Seaforth Avenue from Brock to Lansdowne Avenues, as well on Macdonell Avenue from Seaforth to Galley Avenues. Seaforth from Lansdowne to Macdonell will become one-way eastbound with a westbound contraflow lane, while some direction changes will also be done to Seaforth, Macdonell, Pearson Avenue, and Maple Grove Avenue to reduce traffic volumes along the proposed bike route.

This Google Street View of Edwin at Dupont shows what can be expected on Seaforth & Macdonell

Galley Avenue

Pearson may be the closest to Seaforth, but that street is too narrow like Seaforth and Macdonell. However, Galley Avenue one block north is wide enough to accommodate an eastbound contraflow bike lane while keeping parking on the north side. To improve safety, a stop sign will be added at Sourauren Avenue, while the existing pedestrian crossover at Galley Avenue will become a traffic signal. Sounds pretty straight forward, right?

Sunnyside Avenue to The Queensway

The most complicated part of the project starts when we get to Sunnyside Avenue. Sunnyside from Galley to Pearson will become one way southbound to accommodate a northbound contraflow bike lane, while a southbound bike lane will be added from Galley to Parkdale Road. Glendale Avenue and Parkdale Road will become one way northbound and eastbound (respectively) from Merrick Street to Sunnyside to accommodate contraflow bike lanes, while some parts will also get short bike lanes in the opposite direction.

A City of Toronto graphic showing what is proposed from Sunnyside Avenue to The Queensway

Since The Queensway bike lanes start westbound at Claude Avenue and end eastbound at Glendale Avenue, the bikeway will diverge from Merrick. Those travelling eastbound will use Glendale which will get a northbound bike lane for part of it to maintain some parking next to St. Joseph’s Health Centre. I would have preferred removing the parking and making the northbound bike lane continuous.

Westbound cyclists will get sharrows for 150 metres on Merrick and Claude to connect to The Queensway and the High Park Trail. Given that trail is a popular shortcut to High Park and recently gained a traffic signal at Parkside Drive, I would suggest adding eastbound sharrows as well. Normally, I don’t support sharrows, but can confirm from personal experience parking spaces in that neighbourhood are mostly full which would make putting in bike lanes on Merrick and Claude a non-starter.

Other Concerns

The West Parkdale Cycling Connections will see two intersections – Parkdale at Glendale and Seaforth at O’Hara – gain improvements in two phases. Phase 1 will mostly involve paint, but Phase 2 will use more permanent concrete radii reductions and curb extensions. Seaforth will also gain short sections of cycle track by O’Hara which there is space to do given the presence of a planter at the northwest corner.

Seaforth Avenue looking west from O'Hara Avenue

While this bikeway may seem circuitous and could benefit from some wayfinding signage, it’s the best option to connect Parkdale and Roncesvalles to other bikeways across the city such as Argyle-Florence, Shaw, Richmond-Adelaide, and Bloor. Especially since the streetcar tracks on King and Queen would mean removing all parking to accommodate a bikeway on either street which is unlikely to happen anytime soon.

Last, but not least, the deadline to complete the survey is Tuesday, March 19.

1 comment:

  1. Hello,

    Thank you for writing about this! I am very interested in this since it will soon be my local route to school. I am hoping to make it to the consultation on Tuesday to make that point.

    Interesting to learn that two-way cycling can be allowed without an explicit counterflow lane. I assumed this was not possible in Ontario, but the roll plans are up on the website now and I see that it's indeed the plan. I wonder how well it will work in practice, will drivers assume that the whole lane is still theirs when that yellow line is not painted?

    I guess it won't be _worse_ than the current situation in which people cycle north/west illegally, but... In the panels the route is described as "all ages and abilities" but I'm not sure it'll feel like that when going up unsigned and unpainted Macdonell. Maybe sharrows could actually be useful there.

    I also agree about the sharrows westbound on Merrick and Claude for routefinding to the new traffic light on Parkside.

    I am cautiously excited for some of the associated changes like making Seaforth west of Lansdowne one way - currently Macdonell to Seaforth is a rat run around Queen and Lansdowne both ways - northbound can't really be helped since that's a bus route, but at least southbound will be reduced.

    Overall this seems like a good first step to create a connection. It could be much more, and perhaps that could be added soon after? For example, we _know_ that the counterflow lanes will be used for delivery stops and pick-up truck parking... but it's a start...

    I have some real doubts about the bike lane on Glendale Ave and Parkdale Road, with the lane disappearing twice to allow for parking. I fear the merges out of the bike lane will be dangerous and I'm wondering if we wouldn't have been better off with no lane at all. Of course, it's a damn shame they're keeping the parking. If we can't cycle safely around a hospital, where _can_ we cycle?

    It would also be nice to see curb extensions on Roncesvalles at the Galley intersection, to shorten crossing distances and reinforce no stopping close to the intersection. Maybe one day.

    I saw some posters up on Roncevalles about this today, ostensibly requesting more consultation and "inclusive", "more fair and equitable" consultation - asking for a whole-neighbourhood traffic study, which is a good idea, but will take forever. Really just opposing it, they have a petition named "pause this project". For the record, concerns on the posters are:
    - increased cars on Garden and Fern in front of primary schools (my comment: this seems like a real stretch of imagination, especially Garden)
    - removal of 28 parking spots, quoting "street parking slows traffic" (my comment: but really it's about the parking, and none of the removed parking seems to be in places where cars will speed up much)
    - longer route for ambulances to reach St. Joe's ER (my comment: this doesn't actually seem to be case? except for some real edge cases like an ambulance that is exactly on Sunnyside Avenue and can't turn into Parkdale Road)
    - cars from Queensway/Parkside/Lake Shore being forced onto Pearson and Glendale (but they'll learn that they can turn onto Roncesvalles instead)

    Apart from that poster, I wonder if some residents of O'Hara Avenue will oppose this plan since it will put school traffic on their street? I'm not familiar with how much drop-off traffic there is at Parkdale. The cars headed to West Lodge parking will also all be going up O'Hara now (apart from that lane/parking just north of the school), but that's traded off for the cars exiting West Lodge parking which can currently go down O'Hara but in the new layout they won't be able to.