Tom Worrall of Cycle Toronto provided updates on four important cycling projects in Ward 8 at our Annual General Meeting on Apr 3 2019.
Reconstruction of the Avenue Road Bridge over the 401
About two years ago a local resident noted that a cycle path had not been included in the design despite it being part of the Official 10 year Cycling Plan. After intense lobbying ,with the help of our then Councillor Carmichael Greb and with the support of then MPP Mike Colle, the Ministry of Transportation confirmed that the new bridge, due to be completed at the end of this year, will include enhanced pedestrian sidewalks and cycle tracks, hopefully protected from cars. Connections over the 401, whether it’s Dufferin, Bathurst, Yonge or Bayview, discourage anyone walking or riding a bike and effectively cuts off communities from each other. We are hopeful the Avenue Rd. bridge will provide a blueprint for making other 401 crossings safe.
Transform Yonge between Sheppard and Finch
This project envisions reducing the current 6 lanes of traffic to 4 and creating a welcoming and safer public space for residents of, and visitors to, North York. If approved by City Council, the project will widen the sidewalks to create patio space, add a bike lane, centre median and generally enhance the community experience on this main street. This Complete Street concept has met with success in many cities by recognizing that their downtown core should be a destination for people to gather, shop and generally enjoy rather than just being a thoroughfare.
This light rail transit line on Eglinton Avenue will span 25 kilometres from Black Creek to Kennedy. This is the single largest infrastructure project in Canada and will transform the entire centre of Toronto. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make Eglinton a safe, complete street for all users – pedestrians, cyclists, transit users, and motorists of all ages and abilities. We are closely monitoring progress and look forward to the complete re-design of Eglinton scheduled for 2021.
Midtown In-Focus Multi Corridor Transportation Assessment
The Yonge/Eglinton area is one of the fastest growing neighbourhoods in Toronto. City Planners are identifying priority projects to safely move people in and through Midtown. The assessment is also exploring enhanced connections to destinations beyond Midtown and the necessary shifts to ‘active and sustainable travel modes’. With the incredible demand on infrastructure, it will be critical to get this right. Cycle Toronto has submitted concepts and ideas and will continue to advocate and attend stakeholder meetings.
Avenue Road Bridge improved Cycling Infrastructure
Construction began on the Avenue Road Bridge in late April, 2018. The Councillor’s Office has provided the following information:
- Construction is expected to be completed late 2019
- Access will always be open to traffic
- The MTO has committed to adding cycling infrastructure to the bridge; they are working with a consultant to prepare options
- There will still be two through lanes in each direction after construction
We do not have specific details from Cycle TO at this time as to the specific improvements that will be made for both people who are walking or cycling. We will distribute information once received.
Proposed Yonge-401 Bypass Trail
This is a proposed Multi-Use Path bypassing the Yonge-401 Interchange.
The Yonge Street Working Group is a Cycle Toronto committee advocating for cycling infrastructure improvements along the Yonge Street corridor. The Yonge-401 Bypass Trail is based on an original conceptual idea by Raymond Jean.
Along Yonge Street, the dense North York Centre area and Midtown Toronto are separated by the busy Yonge-401 interchange and the deep ravine valley of the West Don River. At this point, Yonge St. is a formidable 3-km barrier for pedestrians, cyclists and mobility device users. Few cyclists and fewer mobility device users attempt the crossing due to the steep hills at either end, the high roadway speeds and disconnections in safe pedestrian infrastructure.
The Proposed Solution:
We propose that a multi-use trail — the Yonge-401 Bypass Trail — be included within the environmental assessment of the Yonge-401 interchange redesign, using the undercarriage of the Highway 401 bridge to support a new trail, connecting through to the existing service road underpasses under the 401 to the surrounding street network. To complete the network, we also propose the construction of a trail along the west side of Yonge from the 401 down to York Mills, with a tunnel connecting the St. Andrew’s neighbourhood.
[access the link below to view a conceptual picture of the path under the bridge]
Each of the four independent bridges of Highway 401 are perfectly flat, linking the ridge of one side of the Don River Valley West to the other. Directly below the upper decks of these bridges, there is underutilized space and available structure which could support an elevated multi-use trail. Trail users would be able to cross the Don River Valley West without a significant change in elevation.
The north-south underpasses at either end of the bridges would allow a north-south crossing of Highway 401, completely separated from auto traffic, and would serve as trail junctions. In this report they are named the East Underpass Junction and West Underpass Junction. Each end of the underpasses would have a multi-use trail linking to the communities at the ridge facilitating ridge height access between all communities around the Yonge-401-Hoggs Hollow area. There could also be trails to the valley bottom linking existing trail systems in Earl Bales Park and the Hoggs Hollow community.
[access the link below to view a map of the path and all the connections]
The East Junction Underpass would connect to trails leading to the:
- Bypass Trail running directly under the Highway 401 bridges,
- Ridge north of Highway 401: Willowdale (North York Centre) and the high density north Yonge corridor on the verge of installing new cycling infrastructure,
- Ridge south of Highway 401: St. Andrews neighbourhood where on-road bike lanes can lead to Sunnybrook Park and Don Valley trail systems, and
- Hoggs Hollow: York Mills subway station, The York Mills Centre, Yonge Corporate Centre office complexes at William Carson Crescent, the existing trail at York Mills Park, and the Hoggs Hollow neighbourhood beyond. A short cycle track between William Carson Crescent and York Mills Rd would complete this connection.
The West Junction Underpass will connect to trails leading to the:
- Bypass Trail running directly under the Highway 401 bridges,
- Ridge north of Highway 401: Armour Heights neighbourhood,
- Ridge south of Highway 401: Midtown Toronto (via Yonge Blvd) along Jedburgh and Duplex,
- Earl Bales Park trail system, leading to the Finch hydro corridor and York University.
- Outreach to affected stakeholders, including the Ministry of Transportation, City of Toronto Transportation Infrastructure, Planning and Parks (Don Valley Golf Course & Earl Bales Park), Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, Cadillac Fairview (Yonge Corporate Centre)
- Begin high-level feasibility analysis
- Develop a full-plan cost estimate for the project
Benefits to the city are considerable:
- Establishes an off-road multi-use trail network connecting communities separated by Highway 401 and the West Don River valley;
- Includes north-south and east-west bypass of the valley bottom, Highway 401, Yonge Street and the golf course;
- With the existing bridge structures, provides the potential for 400 metres of covered multi-use trail, ideal for year-round use in all weather conditions;
- Has no impact on existing roads or traffic;
- Can be integrated into the Yonge-401 Environmental Assessment at its inception: the east underpass junction could be part of a traffic detour solution when the Yonge-401 interchange is reconfigured;
- Potentially part of the collaborative problem-solving effort between the city and MTO regarding reconstruction of the Avenue Rd overpass;
- Uses primarily existing infrastructure, resulting in considerably lower per-kilometer costs than building new trails;
- Shows leadership on the Provincial Cycling Strategy in developing creative and exemplary ways to move pedestrians, cyclists and mobility device users through a 400-series interchange;
- Improves mobility, connectivity and quality of life for surrounding communities;
- Will attract international acclaim with an innovative concept and design.
A You Tube explanation of the proposal can be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhPvI1j9XbU
4050 Yonge St Section 37 Monies for Trails
Councillor Carmichael Greb put an urgent Motion forward at City Council on Oct 5, 2016 to approve the Final Staff Report from Planning on zoning amendments and Section allocations for the development at 4050 Yonge Street; this was Carried. We expect that the Building Permit will be issued shortly. $300,000 is to be paid prior to Dec 1, 2016 – it appears that the City wanted to secure Section 37 funding for needed community improvements and to take advantage of the opportunity to improve existing infrastructure to this site.
The documents specify the overall amount of the Section 37 funds to be paid ($1,500,000) with a list of 5 allocations:
- Upgrades to the existing transit passenger pick-up and drop-off parking area along Old York Mills Road
- Path and trail improvements/connections within the West Don River Valley area adjacent to the site, York Mills Park and York Mills Valley Park
- Improvements to Woburn Park
- Improvements to the Douglas Greenbelt
- Improvements to Old Orchard Park (replaced Brookdale Park which has recently been improved)
An earlier allocation to ‘Establishment of a Village Square on Dunblaine Avenue’ has been removed as Transportation Services does not agree with this proposed change.
SAHRA believes that Cycle TO is involved in discussions with the City regarding the allocation of funds to path and trail improvements but we have not received any information on specifics to date.
Bike lanes help, not hurt, suburbs, Keesmaat says
Toronto’s former chief planner says City Council’s decision (made in March, 2018 – see below) on the future of a strip of Yonge St is about more than just bike lanes.
Reimagining Yonge Study Proposes Major Changes in North York
Major upgrades may be coming to the stretch of Yonge Street from Sheppard Avenue north to the Finch Hydro Corridor as the Reimagining Yonge Street study is closing in on a preferred option for the revamp of the major artery. At last week’s Design Review Panel, City officials presented their findings and put forth a proposal to reduce Yonge from six to four lanes between Sheppard and Finch, while adding bike lanes, a landscaped median, wider sidewalks, and cycling and pedestrian infrastructure
This proposal was NOT accepted in 2018 by City Council.