Friday, February 26, 2016

Formalizing an Existing Informal On-Street Bicycle Route on the East Side of the Don Valley through Ward 30

South to north, the route needs to go through, or near-by, FirstGulf; BMW Toronto; Riverside Square; Rivertowne; Bridgepoint Health; Riverdale Park East; City Adult Learning Centre.

By Micahel Holloway
Member, Ward 30 Bikes

In order to mitigate the ever increasing use of motor vehicles in (and through) Ward 30, @Ward30Bikes advocates for a #MINIMUMgrid of safe cycling routes evenly spaced across the ward (and across the City via our partners @CycleToronto ).

To achieve this end, Ward 30 Bikes involves itself in Cycling Network Planning processes1, Corridor Planning studies2, and individual Development Application3 public consultations - hoping to create sustainable transportation infrastructure (like a safe Bicycle Lane Network, in new developments, accessible/convenient Bike Parking located at-grade, good connections to nearby, existing cycle routes, and so on).

To this end we are working on an east-side-of-the-Don Valley cycle route which will add a much needed north-south grid line near Broadview Avenue (the next parallel grid line is the 20% complete, Logan/Calaw route which is about .75km to the east).


Were working with FirstGulf to ensure the new City Centre they're planning at Don Roadway and Lake Shore Boulevard has good bicycle infrastructure 'baked in'.

Riverside Square

The Riverside Square Development is one of the processes we attempted to make a difference in but the outcome of that process has been very disappointing.
  • No connection across the Don Valley; 
  • No connection to the nearby cycling grid; 
  • No on-site cycling infrastructure. 
The only tip of the hat to sustainable transporation planning seems to be a Woonerf4 on the new Main Street of the development which will try and funnel 300 motor vehicles during peak hours, and somehow mix with pedestrians and cyclists on a textured, winding(?), curb-less new roadway south of Munro Street (south off Queen St between the Don Valley and Broadview Avenue).

If retail and residential traffic are supposed to use the woonerf south off of Queen St in this very dense new neighbourhood, I don't think this is a good place to install a woonerf. ... But, there it is, and so how to fix it so that this works - and doesn't become Toronto developers way of building inner-city streets with no sidewalks.

I think the key is the number of pedestrians and cyclists who will end up using the woonerfs in the development - Queen St is full of walkers and cyclists all the time; and if connections are made from the woonerfs to a cycling network, that will slow traffic down to the ideal prescribed speed on a Riverside Square woonerf - that is, walking speed, 5km/h.

I don't think attracting pedestrians to the new environ will be a problem - if the results of a Turning Count I did at Queen St E at Carroll St on Tuesday, February 9, 2016 from 5:20pm to 6:20pm are a good sample of the condition here.

Carroll St is one block west of Munro (just to the right in the image) - Riverside Square's new 'Main St' woonerf.

There was a good number of cyclists using Queen St on this cold snowy winter evening - and I think that connecting the Eastern Avenue Bike Lanes through the Riverside Square woonerf - and then north through Rivertowne up to the existing Multi-use Path through Riverdale Park East - will definitely create a much larger number of cycle trips here - especially if one considers the impossibly dangerous condition for cyclists on the Eastern Avenue Diversion. The only really safe route across the Valley is almost a kilometre south of Eastern (Lower Don Recreation Trail crossing at Don Roadway). All the other bridges south of the Viaduct - Gerrard, Dundas, Queen, Eastern - are to varying degrees, fast car routes with no car/bike separation.

And while the Queen St bridge remains a dangerous crossing - it is expected that less confident riders may try their skills across on the Dundas bridge (which has sharrows). This east of the Don River Valley route will facilitate that trip north, and back down south until we actually get some new cycle/pedestrian bridges built across the valley (like the deep-in-the-park, Riverdale Park Pedestrian Bridge).

Here's a map I made of a east-of-the-Don-Valley-cycle-way vision:
(Note the dual route at the top of Riverdale Park - the park dips down along the westerly path - so not a likely route people will take (in spite of the existing bridge over the DVP on-ramp there), the better route - the level route - is a proposed Multi-use Path at the lip of the Park beside Broadview - and the stretch north of Hogarth Ave would need be a Bike Lane on Broadview.):


 A close-up of the Queen to Gerard section:

So the possible on-street infrastructure for cycling would happen along the red lines. These might be painted bike icons or sharrows. Or perhaps woonerfs.

Below is an example from the Netherlands of a local street treatment called a 'bicycle street'; in North America we might call it a 'Neighbourhood Greenway' like places like Portland Oregon and Vancouver B.C. are experimenting with.

Utrecht The Netherlands, ‘Fietsstraat’ or bicycle street. The sign informs people that It was forbidden for drivers to overtake people cycling. (Picture Utrechts Archief) - via BicycleDutch, April 2015 | "Another new bicycle street in Utrecht" |
Note the centre median on this narrow street - thus slowing cars and helping all users understand their is no passing - even of bicycles! Note also the bump-out in the foreground (with bike lock-ups on it) which makes the street feel like we've put car parking into boxes off to the side of the street - and at the same time - makes intersections narrow so that pedestrians feel safe crossing.

Residents in Rivertowne are afraid to let their kids cross their narrow local streets over to the neighbourhood Park because commute traffic and taxi cab drivers who are using their neigbourhood as a way around the lights at Broadview/Dundas, Broadview/Queen. It's at the intersections where on-street markings and other treatments will be most important.

Also important is the City Branding these kinds of way-finding signs and treatments through marketing - cyclists, pedestrians and drivers should immediately recognize a City of Toronto wayfinding brand - and know what it means, for all forms of transport.

At the bottom and at the top of the Rivertowne precinct (Queen/Carroll & Gerrard/Blackburn) there needs to be way-finding signage and perhaps bike boxes so that motor vehicle drivers are aware that, on these narrow egress points, there is no room for cyclists to move to the side of the roadway (drivers will have to queue behind cyclists, just as if there was another motor vehicle in front of them). Intersection treatments at all the entrances to the precinct will also tell drivers 'this is a slow route, it's going to take longer to get through here than going to Broadview and queuing at the light'.

1. City of Toronto | Toronto Cycling Network Plan |
2. Ward 30 Bikes | Label: Dundas/Carlaw Corridor Study |
3. Ward 30 Bikes | Label: Riverside Square |
4. Wikipedia - Woonerf |


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