Sunday, October 16, 2016

Upgrading the Dundas Street East bike lanes

We spend a lot of time at Ward 30 Bikes discussing potential new bike lanes and bike routes. As part of the new 10 year cycling network plan, however, the City of Toronto is also looking to identify routes that can be upgraded from painted bike lanes to protected bike lanes or cycle tracks. Here in Ward 30, there's an obvious candidate: the Dundas Street East bike lanes, which are a major east-west route across the middle of the Ward, used heavily by commuters heading to and from downtown.

Recently, City staff have suggested to us that, although they have identified Dundas Street East as a candidate for upgrading, these upgrades might need to be limited to improved road markings and paint, rather than a fully separated lane with bollards, planters, or hard curbs.

So let's take a closer look and see what's possible with the current roadway space on Dundas, using the City's online GIS map, and Streetmix. Keep in mind that this is just an initial look at possibilities, and some of these ideas may not be feasible upon further study.

The current bike lanes on Dundas run for about 3.3 km, from Broadview Avenue to Kingston Road. Dundas Street is classified as a Minor Arterial street, and it is consistently 14 metres wide for basically this entire length. There are basically three different road configurations for the bike lanes.

The first of these is where there is parking on one side of the street, such as from Broadview to the railway tracks near Logan.

This is how these sections look like today:

The bike lanes here are quite wide, as are the travel lanes. As such, it should actually be pretty easy to make space for bike lanes buffered by paint, bollards, or even planters or hard curbs. Here's one possibility:

As we head east along Dundas, we have a few sections that have no parking, and either a painted buffer or a left turn lane in the middle of the street. Again we can fairly change the current arrangement... accommodate separated bike lanes:

The tricky part is where there is parking on both sides of the street, which is most of Dundas east of Pape - a distance of 2.5 km, the vast majority of the route. Basically, each section of the roadway here - bike lanes, parking lanes, and travel lanes - is already at or close to the City's recommended widths:

Of course, if some of the on street parking was removed, there could be space for a configuration like the one above with parking on one side of the street. This is happening on Bloor, and on Woodbine and it's great that it is. But until parking studies are done, maybe there's a path of less resistance that would make parked cars, bicycles, and their people all happy on Dundas East.

Because the space is so tight, the easiest thing to do would be to just add some painted buffer space. We can just bring the traffic lanes down to recommended width to do that:

We could also move the buffer next to the parked cars instead, to avoid "dooring" - although this is less of an issue on Dundas East as it is on other commercial streets, since it has almost exclusively longer-term residential parking.

So far, we could fairly easily have some properly separated lanes for almost 1 km from Broadview to Logan or Carlaw, to connect to north-south routes, and then have painted buffers added to the bike lanes for the remaining 2.5 km to Kingston Road. Add some new paint and bike boxes at the intersections, and that might be ok. But maybe, just maybe, we could do better.

If we squeeze everything down to absolute minimum widths, we can fit the bike lanes in behind the parked cars, so that people on bikes are protected by parked cars, instead of the parked cars being protected by people on bikes:

My sense is that City staff don't like to squeeze things in so tight, so this might be a stretch to achieve. But it may be worth pushing for, as it keeps parking, while helping protect cyclists. We know that any kind of protected bike lane is better than a painted one for bike safety, and bike lanes adjacent to parked cars are the least safe type of bike lane.

So far, we've only looked at uni-directional bike lanes on either side of the street - of the kind Toronto has installed so far. In other Canadian cities, however, there are many bi-directional bike lanes, such as these on Cannon Street in Hamilton:

Bi-directional lanes may not be ideal for Dundas Street East, with its relatively short blocks. But since it would only need one buffer zone, it does allow some breathing room in the space of the roadway, such as this example:

There might be a need for additional intersection treatments, including potentially turn restrictions and dedicated bike signals with bi-directional bike lanes. But it does show that separated bike lanes are at least theoretically possible within the current width of Dundas Street East.

I'll save the issue of improving the sharrows on Dundas west of Broadview for another post - a tricky but worthwhile project. But for now...

What do you think? 
Are painted buffers fine for part of the route?
Should there be separated lanes the entire length of Dundas? Uni-directional or bi-directional?
Take out the parking?

Let us know in the comments, or by sending us an email or coming out to an upcoming meeting.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Woodbine Bike Lanes Approved - First Ever Protected Bike Lane for East End!

City Council met last week and we're thrilled to report that the Woodbine Bike lanes were unanimously approved! Not much in Toronto's cycling world happens unanimously, so this is special!

It's also the result of some serious outreach efforts from our friends at Ward 31 and Ward 32 advocacy groups, the efforts of the local councillors who really pushed hard for this, and city staff who organized a massive public outreach.

And it's not just a painted line!  Buffers and flexi posts!   Is this the best that cycling infrastructure can be?  No, not at all.  It's unlikely Scandinavian traffic engineers are going to get any best practice tips from this. BUT its moving in the right direction.  Buffers are better than single painted lanes.  And buffers turn into flexi posts, flexi posts turn into curbs or planters.   Curbs and planters turn into full fledged separated from vehicles paths like the waterfront trail.

You can read more here

Stay tuned for the installation!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Carlaw + Dundas Public Realm Initiatives - visioning a network of 'people-safe' corridors that connect local destinations

By Michael Holloway - member, Ward 30 Bikes

This article is intended to initiate a discussion towards creating more people-centred public spaces along the flanks of the Carlaw Avenue Corridor between Queen and Gerrard via a very-local network of complete streets treatments and multi-use paths that together, become 'Invitations' to active transportation choices; routes that will - for walkers and cyclists - connect neighbourhood destinations and public amenities already in place along this dangerous corridor which is congested with motor vehicle traffic most of the day.

Below is Ward 30 Bikes representative, Michael Holloway's submission via the Online Survey posted for the 3rd round of the Carlaw + Dundas Public Realm Initiatives public consultation (as per the June 21, 2016 Open House at Morse Street School Gym - Michael Holloway attended all the events through this two-and-a-half year process.

Only the sections of the survey where Michael wrote in feedback are represented in this article. This edited presentation does not include all the Options, or the Images that supported unanswered Options that appeared on: the paper survey; the display boards at the Morse Street School event; or in the Online Survey (which is unfortunately now closed -


Page 2 (16%)

Preliminary Jimmie Simpson Gateway Concept Design Options


Option 1 - Colgate Avenue Gateway

[no answer]

Option 2 - Colgate Avenue Gateway

Option 2 - What do you like? Why?

Like. Arc is welcoming.

Option 2 - What would you change? Why?

Ornamental Grasses - replace with naturally occurring vegetation in a bioswale - which pools temporarily, runoff from storm events in a wet/dry bowl feature planted with naturally occurring vegetation. Funnel the entrance feature and near-by sidewalk's run-off into this bioswale.

Perhaps copy at this entrance the existing stainless steel checker plate, 19″ high letter inlay in the sidewalks at the corner of Queen/Broadview? Perhaps with the words "Jimmy Simpson Park"


The Entrance feature is for active transportation modes - so it is an entrance way for pedestrians, cyclists, parents with strollers, skateboarders, elderly with mobility devices, the blind using their canes, and so on.


1) Create a pedestrian and cyclist friendly Colgate Ave from Carlaw to Booth (I suggest wider sidewalks between Carlaw and Natalie Place; bike lanes along the entire stretch where possible, sharrows where not possible - safety treatments at transition pinch points (like where the roadway changes widths at Natalie Place); dedicated cycle crossing lanes beside the cross hatches of a new crosswalk across Colgate/Booth;

2) Create entrance features that assist active transportation modes - narrow the crossing area at Booth with bump-outs, add dual pedestrian crosswalk / mounted cyclists' crossing, add blind (and sighted) crosswalk signals;

3) Create pathways in the Park that allow egress for all active transportation modes, to and from the Park's amenities.
(Best practice might be to wait some time after the entrance way is completed and investigate where people travel in the Park via the new entrance - and then add appropriately placed Multi-use Trails at a later date);

4) And add elements along those routes which support the people using them at the amenities which they are using - like 11 Ring & Post bike lock-ups for the soccer field (ie. enough lock-ups for two full teams) placed along the west side of Booth north of Colgate connected to the entrance feature via a Multi-use Path; similarly at the skating rink, basketball pad, tennis pad, hockey pad - and especially - at the main entrance to the recreation centre.
(Existing are too few and badly placed - currently hidden under a tree with no lighting; rather, needs to be 'front and centre', well lit, and near the doors ... in order to keep 'eyes' on the lock-up area. Also, the existing bike lock-up amenity is of bad design and is broken and rusting).

Option 2 - How does the proposed concept meet your needs?

[no answer]

Option 3 - Booth Avenue and Queen Street Gateway

Option 3 - What do you like? Why?

Arc is welcoming.

Option 3 - What would you change? Why?

Existing feature has bad sight-lines at night - feels scary there - seating is hidden away in the shadows; the entire construct blocks a view into the Park behind it. Open it up, but at the same time provide a friendly space to hang out and active transportation amenities for those who travel to the Park via this entrance-way.

Option 3 - How does the proposed concept meet your needs?

[no answer]

Page 3 (50%)

Preliminary Boston Avenue Boulevard Improvements

What do you like? Why?

Like the walking path - but it ends at a parking lot. People using the space have created their own walking path - installing a regulation path won't help the underlying issues -> no sight-lines, dark, path doesn't connect Dundas to the residential buildings.

In my opinion, connecting the walking path to the residential buildings is the only way to create a sustainable public space here; otherwise this is a waste of money.

To make this connection, perpendicular private parking on the west side of Boston from the empty lineal space down to the south face of 245(R) Carlaw should be ended somehow - perhaps an accommodation with the landowners (if this is private land) to improve the back of their building (tattered old fence, rutted gravel driveway) at the same time as a sidewalk and a boulevard is constructed.

This could be done by swinging the parking to parallel along this section, which at the same time would make room for a connection between the winding path to the existing sidewalks to the south. Plus there are lots of empty parking spaces in the lot at the southeast corner of Dundas/Boston.

Bike Lanes

Also, Boston is a good candidate for a contraflow bicycle lane. A northbound contraflow on Boston would help residents of the nearby developments connect to Dundas - and via Heward - to Eastern.

Queen / Carlaw intersection centres a vibrant local community, Boston as a north-south bike route allows 8/80 cycling to the Dundas and Eastern Avenue Bikes lanes (which provide an 8/80 route to the lake front).

Carlaw is not a presently a cycling street. It is congested during peak hours (7 hours a day) with tense, hopped-up LSB commute drivers.

Oddly, the street it is considered a 'destination' by planning staff - yet there is no safe way to bicycle to any of the places along Carlaw between Queen and Dundas; thus connecting cyclists to area destinations - and nearby commuter routes - via Boston and via Logan/Colgate as I've stressed above) would be an ideal alternative to Carlaw.

Page 4 (66%)

Signature Marker Design Competition Shortlist Submissions

Submission #3: Pierre Poussin - "Brick Obelisk"

Best of the lot. But penile, and there's already too much of that at this corner.

How about something penile that has to do with Trains (as it is on the historical railway easement).

Perhaps a sculpture that evokes the classic railway signal post - made out of old rail tracks! (Classic railway signal posts:

Via Dr Elizabeth R. Tuttle Professor of Engineering, University of Denver -

Or - a scale miniature of an old railroad station house - made of scale sized bricks?

.. An old railroad station house?

Via Esprit Co -