Great news and bad news.

It’s well known that many more people in Toronto would cycle if they were isolated and safe from other traffic. The Ontario Government announced today that it will be spending up to $42.5 million on cycling infrastructure across the province. According to Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca, the Ontario Municipal Cycling Commuter Program aims to, “promote safety for cyclists and make cycling more comfortable and more appealing for daily commutes and other frequent trips”. The Ministry has also set up a website to promote cycling. This is great news as York South Weston is one of the most under-served wards in the city when it comes to separated bike lanes. As pointed out in a previous article, a few sharrows are the main concession to cycling in the Weston, Mount-Dennis area.

Toronto Council and the mayor were no doubt horrified and shamed by the recent tragic death of a five year-old riding with a parent in a separate but unprotected lane adjacent to busy traffic. This lane should have been physically separated from Lakeshore Road traffic had the city followed its own guidelines. The fact that it wasn’t is an indication of the low esteem in which cyclists and their safety are held in the city. The Mayor has offered to dither study the matter once more – a familiar council tactic designed to do nothing after the clamour for action has died down.

The lack of separation is contrary to the city’s own guidelines. From the Toronto Star.

Instead, Mayor Tory may wish to actually read the city’s existing guidelines concerning cycle trails in the city. I’ve saved him the bother of doing a ‘study’ by quoting the relevant section.

6.4.1. Trails Adjacent High-Volume or High-Speed Arterial Roadways

High-volume and high-speed roadways may have space for trails in the lands dedicated to them. Generally,

these are roadways with speeds of 60 km/h or more and four or more lanes of traffic. These types of roadways often do not have sidewalks, and a trail adjacent should be planned in a similar manner as a trail within a dedicated right-of-way.

The conflict between high-speed traffic and trail uses is best addressed by distance. Designers should try to achieve the maximum distance between the trail and the roadway. Aligning trails at the maximum distance from the roadway will also help to “future-proof” the trail against road expansions.

Where an appropriate distance cannot be achieved, guide rails and a physical separation such as a fence or landscaping are recommended.*

*my bold.

Toronto City Council has a large number of car-centric members. Read here (and weep) for some of our elected officials opining on two-wheeled transportation.

So the bad news is therefore that any spending has to be approved by individual members of Toronto City Council. Let’s hope it won’t take any more lives before some concrete and meaningful action is taken. With the province providing up to 80% of the funding, there will no longer be a valid excuse not to act.

 

Humber Trail extension meeting

City of Toronto representatives were on hand in the Weston Library basement Wednesday night to answer questions about the latest extension to the Humber Trail. After construction, the trail will end at Mallaby Park where the new steps lead to Weston and St. Phillips. Cyclists and pedestrians wishing to continue on the northern section of the trail will have to climb the steps and make their way along Weston Road. Hopefully this will be a temporary link but in the meantime, the steps have a gutter that allows cyclists to wheel rather than carry their bikes up and down.

A plan of the trail extension.
A plan of the trail extension.

The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) owns the land and the City of Toronto manages it through their Transportation and Parks departments. To continue past the steps along the Humber (subject to a feasibility study), the TRCA will need to acquire the land up to the existing trail at Fairglen and Cardell.

Adapted from Google Earth.
WestonWeb rampant speculation showing where the trail could continue north and link avoiding Weston Road altogether. Adapted from Google Earth.

If WestonWeb readers have comments on the 600m proposed trail extension, the City of Toronto Transportation Department would like to hear from you. Contact Transportation Planner Jennifer Hyland by email or Phone: 416-392-0193.

The full set of posters will be available here in the next few days.