The Great Divide Part Two: Bike lanes on Bayview

 

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This story is part of a dandyhorse series on the need for bike infrastructure expansion in the suburbs. Read the first part of the series,The Great Divide: The "Urban vs Suburban" debate misses the point on the dandyBLOG. Illustration above by Warren Wheeler.

2.6 km bike lane coming to Bayview in 2016 a good start

By Amelia Brown

Bayview Avenue has long been a thorn in the side of the many cyclists who commute to locations along the long and busy street.

When asked about the need for bike lanes on Bayview, Councillor of Ward 25 and chair of the Public Works committee Jaye Robinson previously stated to dandyhorse that: "We need to focus on the big picture. It's not about bike lanes on any particular streets, it's about picking routes to build out a safe, convenient grid across the city." A majority of Bayview lies in Ward 25, and has the potential to connect hundreds of people who cycle to work at Sunnybrook and to school at York, directly to their destination. Without a protected bike lane though, cyclists need to find alternate routes.

And the newly updated 10-year bike plan does call for some lanes on Bayview south of Leaside, but commuters north of Moore Ave will have to keep taking roundabout commute routes, because they will see no respite from their treacherous, fast-car-filled Bayview commute in the short term. A whole 2.6 km of bike lanes are planned for 2016 from Pottery Road to Moore Ave.

Bayview stretches north past Markham, with the Bayview Extension winding along the Don River and connecting it to Mill St. downtown. There are many destinations on Bayview, the busy Leaside neighbourhood at Eglinton Ave., Sunnybrook Hospital and Glendon College closer to Lawrence and, of course, the popular Evergreen Brick Works north of Bloor on the Don River.

Evergreen Brick Works, photo by Jeff Carson

Although Jacquelyn Hayward Gulati, the City's cycling manager, could not confirm the design for the lane would be separated or protected, she said: "We are looking at design options that will improve the conditions for cycling in that section."

City Cycling Manager Jacquelyn Hayward Gulati. Photo by Claire McFarlane

Although the lane planned between Pottery Road and Moore Ave. is a great step in the right direction, the cyclists who go further north on Bayview have been rallying for lanes on Bayview for years.

The fact that there is no direct, safe route to many popular destinations on Bayview frustrates the many who cycle there. Sunnybrook's Bicycle User Group currently has about 300 members.

BAYVIEW-Karey-Iron

Karey Iron at Bayview and Blythwood. Photo by Tammy Thorne.

Karey Iron is a member of the BUG and has been cycling to work at Sunnybrook Hospital for almost 15 years. "There are always many cyclists at Sunnybrook because it is difficult and long to get there by TTC and it is connected to the trail system to the east." But there are many deterrents for would-be cyclists; the roads are not lit well on dark winter afternoons and are not cleared at all when it snows.

As it stands, Iron's preferred route is through the trail systems along the Don River, when she has time and it is not dark outside. Her other options include biking from Pape to the Millwood Bridge (which has a lane) towards Leaside, where there is still a danger of getting doored. The most direct route, she says, is Pottery road to Bayview, but she hardly ever risks going that way. Hopefully, the new 2.6 km bike lane will help improve the safety for cyclists like Iron.

The Evergreen Brick Works faces a different dilemma; businesses like Bike Works and Sweet Pete's that are located at the Brick Works are accessible only to the cyclists willing to face the traffic of Bayview or the unlit, often rough terrain of the Don Valley ravine.

Alex Legum works at Evergreen Brick Works. Legum says that right now, the people who cycle in the area are already confident riders. "I frequently take beginner cyclists out on group rides, and taking them to the Lower Don Trail from the Brick Works is always a challenge."

Bike trails in the ravine close to Pottery Road. Photo by Jeff Carson

"The multi-use trail on Bayview and the bike lane north to Moore will be key for normalizing and expanding bike traffic in this area, and improve access to the valley far beyond its usage." Alex says, "I work with a lot of people who ride and many of the regular cyclists I know do not ride on Bayview. It goes beyond not liking it – folks just don’t feel safe – even with the super wide shoulder." She adds that the suggested Bayview lane, although it won't go as far up Bayview as some cyclists do, will connect to trails off of Moore that would serve as nicer routes for cyclists commuting north.

There is also another Bayview lane in the works, a Bikeway trail that would connect Rosedale Valley Road to Pottery Road, which Hayward Gulati says is important to connect the BrickWorks to downtown. She points to Page 9 of the “Staff Report for Action - Ten Year Cycling Network Plan: 2016 Implementation Program” includes a Bikeway Trail from Rosedale Valley Road to Pottery Road, which is important for the connection to the Brick Works from downtown, also slated for 2016. Hopefully, it will be well lit for use at night.

The Ten Year Cycling Network Plan will build on the City's existing network of cycling routes by identifying potential cycling network projects to fulfill the project mandate:

  • Connect the gaps in our existing Cycling Network;
  • Grow the Cycling Network into new parts of the City; and
  • Renew the existing Cycling Network routes, to improve their quality

You can read a summary of the report and the staff plans for 2016 implementations here.

Next up in The Great Divide series: Cycling in Scarborough?

Related on the dandyBLOG:

The Great Divide: The Urban/Suburban debate misses the point

Flashback Friday: Bike Spotting on Bayview

Brick Works Family Bike Celebration

City's New Public Works Chair on Cycling

City councillor pushing for lower speed limits on residential roads

Bike to the Brick Works

dandyCommute: Sunnybrook to Parkdale

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