ActiveTO is here; what about the Bloor West Bikeway Extension?

Bloor West rendering with protected bike lanes

Artist's rendering of Bloor West Bikeway Extension from January 2020.


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With the flurry of ActiveTO temporary bike lane implementations happening around the city, people have begun asking “What’s going on with Bloor West Bikeway Extension?” The short answer: It’s still on track and design improvements are being made.

Decades of advocacy went into getting the first bike lanes on Bloor Street from Shaw Street to Avenue Road. A little over a year ago, Cycle Toronto helped secure a Council commitment to build a permanent extension of the Bloor West Bikeway from Shaw to High Park, with the possibility of getting out to Runnymede Road. With strong community positivity, it became clear that not only could we build to Runnymede, we could do it by summer 2020. Now, we’re on the brink of seeing a continuous 15 km bikeway on Bloor Street and Danforth Avenue come to life.
 

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When will construction take place?

Construction is set to begin the day after Civic Holiday: Tuesday, August 4th. Crews will start at Shaw and begin building westward toward Runnymede with the goal of having the project done by the end of August.

The August construction schedule is in line with what we expected this winter before the pandemic shut down Toronto. See the image below from the January 2020 public consultations.


In the interim, we have seen the design and implementation of ActiveTO bike lanes at a much quicker pace, but it is important to remember that ActiveTO projects are temporary and designed to be built very quickly. Bloor E, Dundas Street E, Brimley Road, and University Avenue were all less complex due to closing the curb lane to cars without shifting any of the remaining lanes, adding paint to existing markings, and quickly installing bollards.

In contrast, the permanent Bloor West Bikeway Extension will require the complete removal and repainting of all road markings, changing lane placement, and installing concrete curbs to physically separate the bike lane.
 

Rapidly installed bollards and paint on Dundas Street E ActiveTO temporary bike lane.

What about patios?

Recently, the CafeTO program has allowed businesses to open up temporary sidewalk and curbside patios that have increased business and brought more vibrancy to the streetscape. These patios may have to be removed temporarily as construction moves through each neighbourhood, but outdoor seating does not have to be removed forever; the idea that people and businesses want more outdoor space to converse and enjoy a good meal while reducing risk of COVID-19 transmission will live on. Designs are being updated to accommodate as many new, permanent patios as possible without sacrificing the safety of people on bikes.

The designs for Destination Danforth give an idea of how bike lanes and patios can become a potent combination for rejuvenation of local business. Remember to #BuyLocalBikeLocal!

Rendering of Destination Danforth with patios surrounded by planters.

Improved design of Bloor & Parkside intersection

When the initial designs were proposed for Bloor West, the intersection eastbound at Parkside Drive gave us serious concerns. The intersection has a large volume of right turning traffic and the design called for protection to cease and for drivers to cross over the bike lane. It set up an uncomfortable situation where people biking would now be unprotected, sandwiched between vehicles driving straight and vehicles turning right. The initial design is below.

Cycle Toronto, alongside many community members, pushed back on the design because it compromised the ‘All Ages and Abilities’ design philosophy that should take priority. City staff took this feedback seriously and, if all goes well, the bike lane will remain curbside, maintain protection up to the intersection, and have a separate traffic signal phase from right-turning vehicles. This should be a much safer and comfortable design for everyone on the road.

Keep the momentum going

As construction rapidly approaches we will continue to advocate for design improvements and watch closely as installation begins. The Bloor West Bikeway will be transformative, not just for people already riding their bikes, but for the many people looking for ways to safely access businesses, schools, parks, and more as we recover from the pandemic and well into the future. Memberships and donations help us work with communities to bring about these positive changes.

Let’s keep working together to reach beyond the downtown core, expand ActiveTO, and build an equitable cycling and transportation network throughout Toronto. Thank you for your support.
 

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