Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Queen St., Logan, Port Lands, South of Eastern, Dundas/Carlaw Corridor - a walk-about to discover North-South Cycling Opportunities

Learning through reading, walk-abouts and writing: Bouchette Street, Logan Avenue & Carlaw Avenue --- Commissioners to Dundas

I did a walk-about of the 'South of Eastern Employment Area' in a corridor which includes Carlaw Ave, Logan Ave - and south of Lake Shore, a possible connection from Broadview - Bouchette Street. My walk-about started at Queen Street and Logan, down to McCleary Park and then Bouchette Street to Commissioners. I returned to the neighbourhood via Carlaw from Lake Shore up to the Dundas Bike Lanes.

The map below shows the southerly route in green, and the return trip in red. The purple line is: 'Jeez! I wish that on the way back I had continued east on Commissioners for one block over to Carlaw and the Turning Basin!'  (click on place marks and lines for more route data and short narratives).

View Walking the Port Lands Planning Precincts in a larger map

I was looking for a way to create a North-South Cycling Corridor - as many have suggested a need for this in our Problem/Opportunities outreach to the East Side Community (see CycleTO, Ward 30 Bikes - Problems/Opportunities Map: http://goo.gl/maps/Musw4).

Here' my walk about route Friday December 13, 2013 - on an image of the Port Lands Master Plan pedestrian/cycling map. My walk-about route down is in Green - back up is in Yellow (extending up to Dundas St East).
City of Toronto Planning - Transportation and Servicing Master Plan - Page 5 of 9 - Pedestrian/Cycling Network Map (top of the map is about half way to Queen St.)
(Note how I tried to cross Lake Shore Blvd. at rush hour - bad idea - getting to the median at 5pm was easy, but then I couldn't get across the eastbound lanes no matter how long I waited it seemed. Eventually I decided I had to walk on the median east from Logan to the lights at Carlaw - but saw a walking opportunity, and crossed through grid-locked traffic, about a football field's length from the lights.)

These connectivity issues are being addressed by City of Toronto Planing in their "Transportation and Servicing Master Plan" study - a part of the "Port Lands Acceleration Initiative" - an over-all planning process for the Port Lands and the South of Eastern Avenue area which extends from the Don River over to about Coxwell and down to Unwin Avenue.

To connect the Port Lands and the Waterfront to the city, I'm also exploring north of Eastern by walking it, and reading the Dundas/Carlaw Corridor Study Documents (see link below) - and then also I intend to walk up to Riverdale Ave (just below Withrow Park) - above which the cycling / pedestrian conditions become much better. (There are issues - but those for another post.)

There's a lot to digest in these five Port Lands studies - so I'm making my way through the Transportation and Servicing Master Plan documents first - and at the same time walking the connection routes through the study areas - and - writing up my learning and understandings gleaned from the process as I go.


Below is an image I produced from City of Toronto Planning, Transportation and Servicing Master Plan, page 5 of 9 - zoomed to 800% - showing part of their proposed Pedestrian/Cycling Network that this article focuses on: Contra-flow Bike Lanes on Carlaw and Logan - intended to connect the existing neighbourhoods to the new Port Lands and to the Waterfront.

City of Toronto Planning  - Transportation and Servicing Master Plan - Page 5 of 9 Zoom -  Pedestrian/Cycling Network - Contra-flow Bike Lanes on Carlaw and Logan below Eastern

On Logan Avenue the Master Plan suggests a One-way with a Contra-flow Lane and On-street Parking.I'm not particularly fond of Contra-flows as we have designed them so far, they are not intuitive (plus one feels like car drivers don't understand it - don't expect you there. Perhaps paint on the street is a fix). So when I did my walk I was imagining either painted on Bike Lanes or a separated Cycle Track along one side.

I started my walk at Queen Street East and Logan Avenue at about 4:30pm (rush hour is just beginning to peak into grid lock). The street seems quite narrow (is it? - tape measure next time), so to add a North-South Bike Route to the street it was either make Logan Ave a One-Way and put in a Contra-flow Bike Lane - or maintain the two-way street, narrow the lanes and add a separated Cycle Track on one side, and keep On-Street parking on the other.

I'll leave out South of Lake Shore for this post - it's a whole different thing. At this time I'm more concerned with how we are going to connect to it, rather than how we may wish to develop it - except to say -  visioning 30% active transportation - aka Complete Streets.

Coming back up I took Carlaw. Carlaw is one of five "Gateway" to the Port Lands - since it already goes across Lake Shore Boulevard. Plans in 2010 and 2012 have always included this and a possible extension with a bridge south of the turning basin. So Lake Shore to Eastern I imagined Carlaw with wider sidewalks; narrower lanes and a Cycle Track along the West side - with on-street parking on the East side. Or - Bike Lanes on both sides - which means no on-street parking (lots of push-back there).

Same goes for Carlaw Ave below Eastern. It seems very uncomfotable walking there - especially on the west side sidewalk at Lake Shore. On the East side sidewalk planners have already installed a Complete Streets deep corner that feels a whole lot safer.

Continuing up Carlaw the sidewalks are really narrow and the buildings seem to almost brush your shoulder as you're walking.

I was thinking wider sidewalks two car lanes and a cycle track on the West side - perhaps On-Street parking on the East side if there's room - but I doubt it.

Above Eastern Carlaw Ave seems to open up a little - I imagine a Cycle Track along the West side of the street - two lanes for cars and On-street parking on the East side of the street.

Placing the Cycle Track on the West side of Carlaw works nicely with Morse Street Public School - kids (and their parents) should enjoy (be relieved) having the cycle track take them right to their schools' front door.

Bike Parking Amenity and Car Parking at Morse Street Jr. Public School - looking South from the middle of Carlaw - just South of Queen

Morse Street Jr. Public has a 30-car Parking Lot just South of the building. Just to the North of the car park beside the driveway for the parking lot is an aging, rusted bike rack of bad design (not useful if you want to lock your back wheel). The contraption sits tilting slightly, amidst weeds growing through the cement on the border of a collapsing textured area near the rear doors of the school.

Image - City of Toronto Transportation Services, Bicycle
Infrastructure Unit - Queen Street West Bicycle
Parking Study Slide Deck (page 15 of 20)
As part of my visioning here I see losing one-third of the car parking and installing a canopied bike parking amenity on the parking lot area closest to the school - narrowing the driveway to the lot so cars cannot use it and make that the entrance-way for bikes. The car park entrance can come from the alleyway to the South.

From here walking North you come to Queen Street and the beginning of the Dundas/Carlaw Corridor Study Area. Again it looks like the same Cycle Track on the West side. The sidewalk on the North-west corner has been widened to accomodate the Bus stop - this area feels good.

I believe Planners at the T&EY-CC Planning Workshop have imagined wider sidewalks up this side of Carlaw here. (Phase One of the Dundas/Carlaw Corridor Study is completing now - another Public Workshop is scheduled in January 2014 - Documents at Councillor Paula Fletcher's website: http://paulafletcher.ca/discover-ward-30/community-planning/#carlaw

The building under construction just above Colegate Ave on the West side has created a raised fronting that will allow sitting there. This structure looks to allow the sidewalk to widen to the comparable width to that of the Bus Stop area at the corner to the South at Queen. The Dundas/Carlaw Corridor Study also suggests Colegate gets a Complete Streets treatment - narrowing the roadway and expanding the sidewalks as an pedestrian friendly corridor West over to Jimmy Simpson Park.

The East side of Carlaw through here feels like a wall. The sidewalks need to be widened here. I suggest losing a lane and adding trees and seating amenities.

There is a break between the two long street fronts (between 239 & 345 Carlaw) that could add to the illusion that the wall of existing built form is broken up; for example a big tree pushing out into the street-view looking South would do it. Also the hydro lines running along the street on the east side add to the lineal 'wall effect' and could be buried when the street is reconstructed.

The Canyon Effect on the East Side of Carlaw looking South from in front of 245 Carlaw - arrow shows alleyway between 235 & 245 Carlaw - break sight lines by burying wires; shaped steel lattice-work between buildings with ivy; large sculpture; colour ...

That's  it for now.

I'll scout Logan and Carlaw below Lake Shore Boulevard next. My walk along the south side of Lake Shore Boulevard and down Bouchette Street and a little West on Commisioners on Friday the 13th was Really interesting! But I'll save that for a South of Lake Shore Boulevard Connections Opportunities post - next time.

After I've thoughly scouted this corridor south - I plan to walk Boothe Avenue - which looks really interesting on the map.

What's that massive CineSpace Film Studios building doing there? Is there a route through the property? What are the Planners thinking about that? Is that company going to move south into the Film Studio Precinct someday?

Is Bouchette Street a possibility for a North-South crossing of the Grand Boulevard after the Eastern Gardiner Study recommends flattening that structure that ends there?  What about the extension of Broadview down below Eastern? What of a Bike Trail by the Don River there?

Then I take Logan up to Riverdale Ave - and then scout down the Pape-Riverdale-Carlaw corridor and back down to Dundas at Carlaw again.


Links, References

Port Lands Acceleration Initiative (all the links to all the Study Documents) | http://www.portlandsconsultation.ca/

Ward 30 Bikes | Bike Infrastructure BIG Talking Point at Public Consultation for Dundas/Carlaw Corridor Planning Study | ward30bikes.blogspot.ca/2013/10/bike-infrastructure-big-talking-point.html

City of Toronto Transportation Services, Bicycle Infrastructure Unit - Queen Street West Bicycle Parking Study | http://www1.toronto.ca/wps/portal/contentonly?vgnextoid=60400995bbbc1410VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD&vgnextchannel=4655970aa08c1410VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD

City of Toronto Transportation Services, Bicycle Infrastructure Unit - Queen Street West Bicycle Parking Study Slide Deck | http://www1.toronto.ca/staticfiles/city_of_toronto/transportation_services/cycling/files/pdf/draft3_bike_parking_study_oct8.pdf

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