Protected bike lanes planned for ‘dangerous’ Dundas Street East

A dangerous stretch of Dundas Street East through Riverdale and Leslieville may become a little safer for cyclists as the city upgrades the bicycle paths to protected bike lanes — but don’t expect the improvements to be completed for a couple of years.

The city’s infrastructure and environment committee adopted a transportation report Nov. 5 calling for installing cycle tracks — protected bicycle lanes — along Dundas between Broadview Avenue and Kingston Road.

Dundas was one of four roadways to have cycle tracks authorized for a total estimated cost of $1.1 million. Funding is to come from the already approved 2020-2029 budget for transportation services.

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Staff reported Dundas Street East handles about 10,000 to 15,000 motor vehicles per day, as well as about 2,500 cyclists.

Over the past five years, the part of Dundas between Sackville Street and Kingston Road has experienced two pedestrian deaths, one cycling fatality and two serious injuries of cyclists, earning the stretch of road a reputation for being one of Toronto’s most dangerous for non-drivers.

Today when Streeter visited Dundas, a reporter witnessed two vans on opposite sides of the street parked partly in the bicycle lanes with their rear doors thrown open, forcing cyclists on both sides into the car lanes and forcing  cars to swerve around them.

The Dundas Street East bike lanes were installed in 2003, laid out between car lanes and parked vehicles.

At the time, this arrangement was considered best practice in cycling design, according to the report. Since then, however, Toronto and other major North American cities have installed protected cycle tracks with better safety and comfort results.

Cycle tracks are created by reducing the width of the car lanes and installing a painted buffer, concrete curbs, and bollards — those short, thick posts that protect bikes lanes on other streets such as Woodbine Avenue.

Saving lives

A letter to the committee from Gideon Forman, an analyst with the David Suzuki Foundation, argued protected bike lane save lives.

“Let me stress that the city should always strive to build physically separated cycling infrastructure — not just painted lines on the road,” he wrote. “It is the physical separation — ideally with cement barriers — that saves lives and reduces injury.”

Forman cited a Ryerson University study from Ryerson University that found “fully separated cycling facilities (like cycle tracks) could  reduce the number of injuries along Bloor-Danforth by 89 per cent.”

The proposal for protected lanes on Dundas Street East is to go before city council for the final go-ahead on Nov. 25.

If approved, much of the work may not be scheduled to take place until 2022 due to backlogs in the transportation department’s work, according to the report.