Dowling Avenue Bike Lane: Connecting Parkdale to the Waterfront

Artist's rendring of the Dowling bikelane - courtesy of the City of Toronto

Following up on the city's proposed bike lane that will connect Parkdale denizens to the waterfront. 

Story by Robert Zaichowski

On Wednesday, May 17, Councillor Gord Perks hosted a second public meeting with regard to establishing a cycling route on Dowling Street to help Parkdale cyclists access the Waterfront. It serves as the missing link between the Sorauren Avenue bicycle route and the Dowling pedestrian and cycling bridge, which completed installation in summer 2016.

The first meeting on September 22, 2016 presented a southbound contraflow bike lane from Queen to King Streets. The City’s current guidelines require one way streets to be at least 6.8 metres wide in order to accommodate a contraflow bike lane and maintain parking on one side. Dowling – like many other Parkdale one-way streets – is approximately 6.0 metres wide; meaning a contraflow bike lane there would have required the removal of 32 parking spots. Some planters were also included in the initial proposal to improve aesthetics.

Image courtesy of the City of Toronto

Given the concerns involving parking removal, a revised proposal was made which will use sharrows on Dowling and Beatty Streets as opposed to a contraflow bike lane. The direction will be reversed on those streets to improve the safety of cyclists turning left, which would now be done at the signalized intersections of Queen-Sorauren and King-Dowling. A left turn box will be placed on Queen to help cyclists safely cross from Beatty to Sorauren, while parking will be placed on the left hand side of Dowling and Beatty to mitigate dooring risk.

Image courtesy of the city of Toronto

Some members of the Cycle Toronto Ward 14 Advocacy Group recommended the addition of left turn boxes on Sorauren and Dowling to alert drivers of their presence and improve cyclist detection. The existing bike loops on Sorauren have been frustrating for some cyclists, though a city planner informed me they plan to use overhead detection which was also used at the College and Shaw intersection. Signal improvements were also recommended to give pedestrians and cyclists a head start when crossing King and Queen. One final concern the group brought up is wayfinding, given three turns would be needed instead of two for northbound cyclists.

Image courtesy of the city of Toronto

While the removal of parking spaces to make room for bike lanes remains a controversial issue in Toronto, there is a need to ask the question of where removing parking makes the most sense, as well as how to do it. The use of sharrows is another controversial topic given they do not count as infrastructure, but do have their place on residential streets connecting dedicated cycling facilities as per Cycle Toronto’s position statement.
Even Copenhagenize’s design graphic does not recommend dedicated cycling facilities on 30 km/h residential streets.

Image courtesy of the City of Toronto

Fifteen people signed in at the public meeting with Councillor Perks’ office citing positive feedback overall. For those who were unable to attend, comments can be sent by May 31, 2017 to Kate Nelischer at A vote is expected at community council in fall 2017 with installation to take place in spring 2018.

Image courtesy of the City of Toronto

Related on

From the Horse's Mouth: Gord Perks on pushing for more from City Hall

Connecting Parkdale to the Waterfront

Bringing Cyclists together in Ward 28

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