The new contraflow lanes through Kensington Market connect cyclists to the College Street lane in the north and the Richmond/Adelaide cycle tracks in the south (sort of.)
Contraflow lanes come to Kensington
by Ali McKellar
More good news for Toronto cyclists: There's a new bike lane in Kensington Market. The contraflow lane, which runs northbound on Denison Avenue and Bellevue Avenue between Queen and College Streets, provides an important north-south connection for cyclists in the core and represents another step forward in building the City’s Cycling Network Plan. The majority of the route is a 2 metre wide painted lane separating cyclists from southbound traffic, however some sections of the route are marked by sharrows.
As a west-end dweller and commuter, I was pleased to ride the new bike lane, especially heading north on Denison at Dundas Street. Many cyclists, myself included, often continue to ride north through this one-way southbound street in order to get to Kensington Market, or continue north to the College Street bike lane.
Unfortunately, not everything about this new lane is sunshine and rainbows. The section north of Dundas is a hotbed for cars parked in the bike lane - especially U-haul’s belonging to the rental agency on the corner. Despite numerous tickets on the windshield, there seems to be no sign of the trucks moving anytime soon. Where is TPS parking pal when you need him? Despite these parking infractions, most cars were courteous and slowed to allow me to continue my route north in the oncoming car lane.
Continuing north, the contraflow lane follows Bellevue Avenue up to College Street, where there is no stop light, and none likely to come. This may provide for a tough left turn for many riders, crossing four lanes of car traffic in order to safely reach the westbound bike lane. Luckily, there is a stop light one street directly to the west (and east), which will allow for a more comfortable crossing at busy times of the day.
Local resident Lisa Logan said she doesn't think the sharrows are all that bad. "Who knew the city cared?? Well, they do, I guess. And literally a day into it, I saw people riding. Build it and they will ride! Those types of markings make a big difference, as cyclists will often ride routes easy for them regardless of a one way st and this certainly makes it safer," she said, "And the markings encourage car drivers to slow down in their confusion of the new infrastructure. Why wouldn't one typically slow down on a street busy with pedestrians, cyclists, school kids, buses, a fire station, etc.? This new lane adds to the complete street and it works. Looking forward to more 'surprises' that encourage and support complete streets."
Every-day cyclist and Cycle Toronto volunteer, Robert Zaichkowski said, "I feel it's a great way to connect College Street to the Richmond-Adelaide cycle tracks via Kensington Market with good use of wayfinding sharrows where the gaps are. However, I do feel there needs to be improved wayfinding for those getting to Kensington Market from the Richmond-Adelaide cycle tracks."
Still, I believe the Denison/Bellevue contraflow lane marks an important north-south connection (one that took many years to become a reality) that takes riders through one of Toronto’s most vibrant neighbourhoods, and continues to build upon the City’s Cycling Network Plan. After the success of the Bloor Street bike lanes at council this week, things are looking up for cycling in the city.
At College. Sharrows help guide cyclists and remind motorists that bikes will be using this route.
Parking in bike lanes in Toronto is an issue wherever you go.
Related on dandyhorsemagazine.com