A New Look For Roncesvalles

John Bowker of the Roncesvalles Village BIA (Business Improvement Area) passed on a link to information about the TTC’s new design for Roncesvalles Avenue.

At this point, it is unclear whether this will actually be built in 2008 or 2009 (my own guess is 2009), but this gives an idea of what the TTC would like to do with streetcar stops in locations where the incursions into the road are possible.  At all stops from Dundas down to just north of the carhouse at Queen, sidewalks at stops will be widened out to the tracks to provide a step on-and-off configuration.

Various schemes are used to deal with intersections where there are turns either by using farside stops or moving nearside ones back to leave enough room for a right turn bay.

The PDF with the design is very long and narrow — it really belongs on a roll of paper — but the one drawing covers the entire length of the projecvt.

The community appears to be strongly in favour of this scheme, and within a few years we may see a very new transit and pedestrian friendly street.

35 thoughts on “A New Look For Roncesvalles

  1. The indented parking bays that are in vogue do not, do not work well for winter cycling because the City is unable to plow the snow out of these indents. Not surprisingly, the motorists park further out, and then there’s no room for bikes. I know transit folks won’t necessarily care about cyclists but for many it is the really better way to get around TO, and it’s tiresome to have completely different standards for liability/care in design and operations.

    Roncesvalles is currently really trashed for cycling too because it’s been trenched in the one zone where it is sorta okay for riding, in between the nasty streetcar tracks and the door prize zone.


  2. I support this proposal, because I think we should be encouraging a transit-friendly community, which will undoutably be good for business. While most of the parking will stay, some parking will be removed which will allow boarding of streetcars at the curb. I wish that the businesspeople of St. Clair West would think like this – why are they so opposed to giving more space to public transit and so attached to keeping parking, when they have twice as much space to work with?

    Perhaps we should think of implementing this treatment downtown – most roads are only effectively 2 lanes wide anyway, because the other two lanes are used for parking off-peak, and at rush hour illegal parking is frequent. This would eliminate the need to cross traffic (dangerous) to board a streetcar. Closing the street entirely to private traffic might be better, but it’s politically infeasible.


  3. I think the design is a step in the right direction that could make Roncesvalles one of the most pleasant streets to window-shop along, as well as take transit. Not that it isn’t nice to walk along it now. But its topological position in the city, along with the mature trees, and the great stores of this Polish Corridor, makes this a wonderful summer-autumn jaunt, say, after spending a day at High Park, and heading down Roncesvalles as the sun sets to one of the many great, and underrated, Polish restaurants. Krak is one of my favourites. OH! The home made soups and pierogis!

    Since such a plan cannot help but make an area more pedestrian-friendly, imagine what it could do on Dundas north and west of Bloor if they were to ever consider extending the tracks as had been discussed to connect with an extended ST. CLAIR line at either Runnymede or Jane. The Junction is another often overlooked, but recently revitalized, area of small shops conducive to walking or browsing.

    Ironcially, both neighborhoods were essentially created by the original streetcar traffic through the area. Everything old….


  4. I think that the idea of extending the sidewalks to the streetcar tracks of a typical four lane wide street in the inner part of the city to be the logical solution. Enough is enough and it is time the city put its foot down about all the idiot drivers who mow down passengers getting on or off the streetcars.

    The car drivers can complain all they want. They had their chance to comply with the countless warning signs stuck on the CLRVs over the years (stop signs on the doors, the yellow silouette sign at the back and the picture of a streetcar door with stop sign on the rear window) and they blew it!

    As well by extending out the sidewalks to as many of the TTC’s streetcar stops as possible it makes it more practical to have wheelchair accessible streetcar service. In fact if the new LRVs, extended sidewalks and new safety platforms are designed right, then that could allow for a more level platform-LRV alignment at the stops with a platform and thus potentially eliminate the need for a flip ramp except for emergency evacuation.

    ~Jordan Kerim


  5. One odd feature of this street as it stands now is the unusual height of the sidewalk in some locations where the main stretch of sidewalk adjoining the storefronts is stepped up another curb-height from the portion that extends to the road. I’d like to know if any consideration is being made to fixing this offset, made especially complex where it only occurs on one side of the street. Now would be the time to do this work. Is anyone aware of the history behind these strange features?

    Also, are there any more backroom rumblings about streetcar service returning to the Junction? I still find it highly amusing that the local area map at Dundas West Station erroneously identifies the 40 Junction Bus as a continuation of the 505 line. Was this a simple mistake or the result of mis-communication with the planning department?


  6. If you extend sidewalks out far enough to make a level, relatively gap-free entry to the LRT, then where will bicyclists ride? I presume the new LRTs will not be significantly wider than the existing cars. There would be almost no space between the extended curb and rail for a bicycle to use. Riding between the rails is really “taking the lane”; the problem is that yielding the lane is dangerous because it’s impossible for bicycles to cross streetcar tracks at a shallow angle. Either you bunny-hop (rad, dude!) or slow waaaaay down and make a couple of careful right-angle turns.

    There are bicycling alternatives to Roncesvalles (Sorauren, Sunnyside, Indian Road–although I think they’re infested with stop signs) so that’s not too bad. Trying the curb idea on Queen or King or Dundas will be problematic, as there are few or no reasonable alternatives.

    Hamish’s general observations are correct. The bicycle path on Lake Shore Blvd. west of Kipling was not usable after the big snowstorm because of cars parked way out onto the path. The bays were filled with snow, sometimes being used as a handy dumping spot from parking lots.

    Steve: I have some sympathy for cyclists who have to deal with all sorts of problems, but please remember that snow affects all users of the street including TTC and especially pedestrians.


  7. Let me add to my previous comment: most of the streets with bays that I know of are quite wide (College west of Grace, Lake Shore) so parked cars sticking out affect bicyclists and maybe a lane of traffic. On Roncesvalles, they’ll stick out over the tracks. It’s not like this is unknown on Queen or Dundas.

    What ever happened to snow emergencies, complete with “No Parking”? I don’t believe that one was called after the big December dump. And so streetcar service suffered for days afterwards, blocked by parked cars obstructing streetcars.


  8. Perhaps a temporary bay or two could be built on one side of Roncesvalles using concrete blocks to test the effect of the changes? It would only have to cover the “outline” of the bay and should be cheap to do.

    The important thing is how the layout would cope with snow. Michael Walker put indents into a road in his ward for traffic calming and when they were snow covered they couldn’t be distinguished. Needless to say a couple of accidents later and they were removed! Unfortunately a rash of speed humps has replaced them.


  9. As a business owner in the Ronces hood as well as having grown up in the area, I am pleased to see that new and exciting changes are on the horizon. Ronces is one of few neighbourhoods in the GTA that still retain a unique retail mix of old and new.


  10. Several people have pointed out that this layout will be unfriendly for bikes. The problem is, cycling on any major street is dangerous even when bike lanes are provided; cycling on side streets is much safer. I somehow don’t think that cycling would be any harder than it is now on Roncevalles.

    The solution, in my opinion, is to encourage cycling on side streets (which are plentiful in almost all of the old city except in the downtown core). To do this, the city should either allow bicycles to cycle the wrong way on one-way residential streets, or make those streets two-way to all traffic. I realize that many bikes ride the wrong way, but it would be best to legitimize them as is done in other countries. They should get rid of any obstacle designed to prevent/discourage cars from going the wrong way, or design the obstacle so that it does not slow down bicycles. As for all-way stop signs, they’re overused, and many drivers and bicyclists ignore them, so I would just get rid of most of them.

    Bicycle lanes would still be provided when there is no practical alternative to riding on major streets. However, in most cases, encouraging biking on side streets would eliminate the need for them.


  11. There were 3 options for the bumpouts:

    1) Passengers board directly from the sidewalk, like a bus, but onto the streetcar. The traffic lane would have been 3.5 m wide.

    2) A shared wide lane for bicycles and traffic. Passengers would have to step off the curb, crossing a narrow bicycle path before boarding the streetcar. The shared traffic lane would be 3.9 m wide.

    3) Similar to option 1, but with a depression, which would serve as a bicycle lane through the bumpout itself. The traffic lane would have been 3.9 m wide, a 1.5 m streetcar platform, and a 1.5 m bicycle depression.

    The drawing shows the traffic lane as 3.9 m, meaning that option 2 has been selected. This allows for bicycles, but is less accessible for the elderly and handicapped with the new streetcars. I hope the new streetcars/LRV will be have a ramp to bridge the gap.


  12. I hope there will be police cameras at all intersections to monitor cars cutting off LRVs, left turns should also be illegal on this stretch for the benefit of the LRV, and a Cyclists By Pass 75 Centimetres wide on the adjacent side streets for the cyclists, i.e. Northbound traffic on the adjacent sidestreet to the east, southbound traffic on the street to the west. That would be perfect for all parties involved.


  13. Hopefully they will study European models of roll on-roll off loading (or floor-level loading if you prefer) and make these bump-outs at a suitable height so that there is no step – at least as far as the new low floor cars go. This needs to be designed in from the get-go – if you merely extend the sidewalk on the same level the opportunity for proper boarding on low floor cars will be lost. Many if not most European systems ramp up from the ends, sometimes middle as well. Lightly slanted toward the original sidewalk MIGHT work but would look rather silly.

    Can’t see where the bike lanes go at car stops – maybe they’ll do a super-slope end design on the new low floor cars (much like high speed trains) and bikers can just ride up and over the stopped cars and down the front. No, I’m not serious, but where the heck do the bike lanes go – it wasn’t obvious to me unless I’m missing something.


  14. I appreciate the nod of empathy – and it’s not my area, and nobody harangued cyclists for being passholes to those exiting stopped streetcars, which is too Canadian folks – there are problems with cyclists not stopping.

    But to pick up on Ed’s suggestion of other streets – it’s not as if we tell peds that you can take another sidewalk two blocks away for their passage, and it’s not as if there are demands for bike lanes on Roncesvalles, which is a bit wider I think than King or Queen – because it’s not quite so nasty a feel to it.

    Sorauren is disintegrating in the northbound curb lane.

    Sometimes cycling is the better way – if there was a proper bike lane somewhere near King and Queen in the west end, if there was a civic priority to begin! a grid for cycling in the high-demand of east-west travel, would that remove a streetcar’s worth of pressure? Maybe bikes can also help out transit pressures as a thought.


  15. I also cycle throughout the year and Hamish Wilson makes some good points. It’s bad enough even in places with clear sight lines, such as the Viaduct where snow piles up in the bike lanes which the city inadequately plows. Despite this one reservation, I do support measures which widen sidewalks, reduce parking, and improve access to streetcars. Roncesvalles is already a nice street to stroll along and I look forward to the changes.


  16. The Roncesvalles Village BIA has posted a follow-up, concerning the cycling issue.

    Steve: The preferred option shown (which you have to look in a separate link to see) involves provision of a depressed part of the sidewalk to be used by cyclists.

    However, this does not address the problem of full accessibility because there is still a significant change of level that could not be negotiated by, for example, a wheelchair.


  17. I hope that Steve isn’t losing patience with bicycle posts, because this is a real issue for streetcars and route design in the inner city.

    Bicycles and streetcars already interact, and not for the best. Queen West may be the hotspot, and perhaps it’s not conicidence that I’ve experienced this from both cycling and riding the streetcar.

    For streetcars, bicycles are relatively slow-moving objects, which may be difficult to pass safely in the narrow confines of Queen and its door zone that takes up most of the available space to the right of the streetcar. As a result, streetcars will sometimes hang back and follow a bicyclist, which is certainly safer for all involved, but slows service because most bicyclists on Queen move at between 20 and 30 km/h, with quite a few at the slower end.

    For bicycles, streetcars are objects that can move faster than them when in motion, but cause delays because then they stop to take up passengers. My average cycling speed is definitely faster than the average streetcar speed, but sometimes it takes considerable effort or multiple efforts to get ahead of the streetcar safely (after I pass and the streetcar stops to pick up passengers, it won’t catch up). And there are always the tracks to worry about–they’re excellent for throwing bicyclists, hopefully not under a passing streetcar!

    To respond to Andrew MacKinnon, the side-street option is not desirable for anyone looking to cover any significant distance. For one thing, as soon as you have to cross several major grid streets, it turns into a big pain and the side streets may require connecting jogs along the grid streets anyway. It’s a lot simpler and actually safer to stay on a major grid street which will have signalized intersections at all the other grid streets. In *some* parts of the city, such as Long Branch and Alderwood, the side streets do make useful routes and the main streets are only minimally faster and more convenient, so I will use either, depending.

    I don’t find this the case with the older city, where any local street that actually goes somewhere has been turned into a maze of one-ways with stop signs to keep out the motor vehicles that would also find them useful.

    Unfortunately the old city is also the part of the city where the streetcars are on a lot of the narrow grid streets. And like I said, it’s no conicidence that there are a lot of bicyclists on these streets as well. It would take a *major* rethink of design to make a street like Queen friendly to both streetcars and their passengers, and bicyclists. Motor vehicles would take a major hit, up to total exclusion.

    To respond to Hamish, I’m not suggesting that cyclists should “go out of their way” — although I must point out that transit riders do often have to go out of their way to board a streetcar as well! And I do scratch my head over many of the “suggested on-street connector routes” on the City’s 2007 Bicycling map.

    But if you are basically looking to get from somewhere on Bloor to somewhere on Queen in the west end, it may not make much of a difference in distance whether you are using Roncesvalles or some alternative (without a lot of stop signs please). To get back to Queen West, there is no alternative other than the Martin Goodman Trail, which is much further south, has few connections to the street grid, is not cleared in winter, and is infested with bollards for cyclists’ “safety”.

    Steve: One thing that needs to be pointed out is that, by analogy to the way we talk about equivalent road space for car-borne and transit-borne loads, a transit vehicle holds substantially more people than the cycles likely to occupy a lane adjacent to the bus or streetcar. Like motorists, cyclists are going to have to yield to transit vehicles.


  18. Re a depressed area in the sidewalk bumpout to be used by cyclists — why not raise this to the same level as the sidewalk but give it a different surface treatment (via paving material or paint) to mark it as a sort of sidewalk-level bike lane, just for the length of the bumpout?

    It seems like all you’d need would be curb cuts at each end of the bumpout to ramp bikes up and down to sidewalk level. In this zone, bikes would need to keep an eye out for pedestrians, but that’s going to be a problem at streetcar stops under any design. I’d say the location shown for the depression (a few feet back from the streetcar loading area) is probably safest. Avoiding the depression means it’s no barrier to wheelchairs, and might help it get cleared of snow along with the rest of the sidewalk.

    And a general comment: a neighbourhood with the attitudes shown by this BIA is a golden opportunity for the TTC. If the TTC can provide VIP treatment for track reconstruction, these folks deserve it.


  19. Steve,

    The option with the depressed trough through the curb was not preferred by the community, which thought it too confusing for users. The community preferred the second option (shown in the posting http://www.roncesvallesvillage.ca/?p=61), which would simply extend the “sharrow” zone, leaving a 1.6 metre space between the curb and the rail. Not perfect for everyone, but at least this achieves the goal of not forcing passengers to cross a lane of car traffic, while still allowing cyclists to travel without getting caught in the rails.

    Steve: Apologies … I got that wrong in my haste to get your earlier comment up. The problem remains of providing accessibility from pavement level (a problem that also exists for stops without bumpouts). There is an inherent problem that the geometry of bike lanes and direct loading from sidewalks into cars are mutually exclusive.

    In another comment was the suggestion that the bike lane ramp up and down from the bump-out. My big concern whether it does so or not is that people will be waiting for the streetcar only to find a cyclist trying to come through the middle of the crowd. Cyclists are not known for their manners where conflicts with pedestrians exist. I’m not saying they’re all “bad riders”, but enough of them are that serious pedestrian-cyclist tangles are inevitable.

    I have nearly been run down on several occasions by cyclists for whom traffic lights seemed to be little more than street decorations. If we create a cycle/pedestrian conflict somewhere that there isn’t even a traffic light, the cyclists will breeze through assuming that they have right-of-way.


  20. This image shows how the bumpout could appear as. It would allow the bicycle to use the traffic lane without slipping its tires into the flange, but would not be able to pass a streetcar/LRV when it is at the bumpout.

    To board, a passenger may have to step onto the roadway, jump the gap, or use a ramp from the LRV. The Peter Witt streetcars had a folding step which folded down to allow boarding, something like that maybe used to bridge the gap for the elderly/handicapped.

    Steve: That gap is over one metre wide. Deploying a ramp or bridge is more of a challenge than the fold-down steps on a Witt car, charming though they were.


  21. Allow me to throw a monkeywrench in the plans for Roncesvalles.

    I spoke to my friend who works with the Roads Department. Neither of us know the exact nature of this particular street, but there is one thing of concern: if on-street parking is prohibited during the peak hours, then you are going to have serious problems with regards to traffic approaching these proposed stops. Essentially at these stops, you are reducing two potential lanes to one. That is like putting in a series of blood clots in your leg, it is not good for the circulation of traffic. And not good for the reliability of the King Car.

    If On street parking is allowed during the peak hours, then that mitigates things as you are still dealing with traffic in one lane in each direction.

    I prefer the transit islands that are now standard across the city. This way, you isolate passengers from the car traffic, and car traffic would not choke with these stops. But again, if onstreet parking is always allowed at all times, then there is really no problem.

    Steve: Transit islands don’t work because Ronces is only 4 lanes wide.


  22. Re: bike lanes and loading from the sidewalk. How about this solution:
    – The boarding bay / waiting area for pedestrians reaches right up to the tracks, so wheelchairs can roll smoothly into low-floor LRVs;
    – 5-7 metres before the waiting area, the bike lane climbs up a ramp, and then smoothly tilts right to run between the waiting area and the regular sidewalk;
    – A barrier protects the pedestrian from cyclists who would want to ignore the turn and keep going straight;
    – Past the waiting area, the bike line tilts back towards the road and down a ramp.

    Since the cyclists would be forced to slow down for the turn, they will pose less risk for transit riders. At the same time, cyclists would be able to safely bypass a stopped LRV.

    Steve: I suspect the problems would arise from cyclists using the road lane when there is no streetcar present, but swinging up onto the sidewalk otherwise where conflicts with pedestrians getting on and off of the streetcar would be possible. One way or another, the cyclists are going to have to stop when a streetcar is there, just like the cars do (in theory) today.


  23. Don’t use the distance between the track and the curb, use the side of the streetcar/LRV to the curb.
    Option 1 had a traffic lane width of 3.5 m, option 2 has a 3.9 m width, a difference of 40 cm (1 foot 3 ¾ inches for the metric-challenged). If one could board a streetcar/LRV from option 1, and a standard step is about 27 to 28 cm (11 inches), then the designers could work out a way to extend a ramp out to the curb of a bumpout if we are going with option 2.


  24. I agree with Steve that trying to run a bicycle lane across a curb extension is a horrible idea, no matter how you do it. Some will think it’s part of the regular sidewalk, while others will think it’s part of the bike lane. Unless we go to the Dutch “no rules apply” mode, trying something oddball like this will only lead to massive problems. (For example, Parks tried to be “innovative” with the Humber River multi-use path, and it was just awful.) No amount of clever striping or gating will make this scheme workable.

    But I think this statement by Steve is very debatable:

    “One thing that needs to be pointed out is that, by analogy to the way we talk about equivalent road space for car-borne and transit-borne loads, a transit vehicle holds substantially more people than the cycles likely to occupy a lane adjacent to the bus or streetcar. Like motorists, cyclists are going to have to yield to transit vehicles.”

    You can put cars and bicycles in the same basket (I will freely admit that a packed ALRV with 210 passengers takes up less space than 210 bicycles), but it’s obvious that a bicycle carrying one person takes up vastly less room than a car with one person in it. If you’re not running your transit vehicles at crush loads, then the bicycles may in fact take up similar or less space than the transit vehicle, depending.

    But what really calls for debate is that a simple “space efficiency at crush load” argument completely misses resource usage and environmental impact. ALRV has a mass of 36,745kg and can carry 210 passengers, for 175 kg of vehicle per passenger. Bicycle is 10-20 kg per passenger. Bicycles are more energy-efficient and can provide excercise. I’m not sure if a road network for bicycles is more or less resource and energy-intensive than LRT trackage, so I await opinions.

    Bicycles are also on the road only when a passenger (rider) actually is using it to go somewhere. We must run streetcars regularly, whether they are packed like sardines or not (although the TTC definitely leans to the former).

    Bicycles can in fact work nicely with an LRT grid like Transit City, because the issues of connecting local routes can be ameliorated by bicycle usage.

    So I think a blanket statement like “cyclists are going to have to yield to transit vehicles” is not going to fly, unless it means something different from what I think it means.

    Steve: I expected that remark to draw a comment and am glad to see such an extensive one. There are two points here. First, cycling is one of a range of travel options. It is more or less suitable for various types of trips depending on many factors of which one, the “friendliness” of the road infrastructure, is an influence. Second, cycling is emphatically not an option for many types of trips and riders, not to mention weather-related issues.

    In the hierarchy of road space users, my position is that transit comes first and everything else has to make way. That has different implications for busy 4-lane arterials with frequent streetcar service than for wider roads and locations with less service.

    The goal is to move large numbers of people by transit, and for this we must provide service. Having vehicles running around half-empty “wastes” energy for some, but since we all know that the average occupancy of a car is barely over 1 person, the auto sector has a vast amount of underutilized capacity and “wasted” energy.

    Think of the amount of energy “wasted” by cabs trolling for fares. We could cut the number of cabs, and then endure problems of capacity and convenience. We pay for the cost of having a large fleet of cabs on the street through taxi fares.

    Providing reasonably frequent transit services gives people the option of not owning a car, or of owning fewer cars. That has a direct benefit to the rider/owner as well as an indirect benefit from elimination of the road and parking space needed to service trips taken by transit. Everything is a trade-off, and whether something is a “waste” depends on what we are trying to measure.


  25. Steve writes:

    “The goal is to move large numbers of people by transit, and for this we must provide service.”

    The goal of *transit* is certainly to do this, but that’s transit for transit’s sake.

    I think that the overarching goal is to move large numbers of people in an efficient way with minimum impact.

    Transit is much better at this in the city than motor vehicles (even this point is often disputed!), so of course we want to give more priority to transit over motor vehicles. However, bicycles compare pretty favourably here, and there are certainly situations where bicycles are a more effective solution than transit.

    For example, for me it’s definitely quicker and almost certainly cheaper to commute from Brown’s Line/Lake Shore to Queen/Spadina by bicycle, presuming the weather is not too bad. Over the entire year, the modes must split around 50/50, although I’m not anal enough to keep track. Is it unfair of me to expect a Queen car at the stop on those days that I don’t want to ride? I dunno; maybe. (It’s way too far to walk, and I really don’t care to drive to work, although I have owned one or more cars since 1986.)

    Given the layout of the central city, the only way to really accomodate both modes is to squeeze out motor vehicles, really. Without a drastic reconfiguration of a street like Queen West, bicycles and transit will have to coexist with whatever motor vehicles we permit. Trying to ban bicycles on, say, Queen in order to facilitate transit will inevitably raise the question, “so where do the bicycle riders go? King??”

    The last three paragraphs in your comment all point to the inefficiencies of motor vehicles, so they support giving transit priority over motor vehicles. Since a bicycle is not a one-occupant car or taxi trolling for fares, I don’t see any support for the argument that transit must automatically have priority over bicycles as well.

    Note that I’m not saying that transit should *never* have priority over bicycles; sure I can think of situations where it’s completely fitting that this happens. But not everywhere, automatically, without question or debate.

    Steve: I think a point I was trying to make has been mis-interpreted. When I talked about providing service, I was addressing the concept that “efficiency” is synonymous with “there’s still room on the roof” service design. There are many ways to measure “efficiency”, and depending on your goal, you get different results.

    If your goal is absolute minimization of costs directly attributed to transit (e.g. subsidies), then you run as little service as you can get away with. If your goal is to make transit attractive enough that people will make some non-commuting trips by transit, then providing service that is not full, but is frequent enough to be attractive supports the goal. The saving overall comes in making it possible for people to use transit outside of the rush hour and hence reduce their need for an auto.

    As for transit, autos and bikes, my point was that transit comes first. That doesn’t mean we squeeze out cyclists, but we don’t give them carte blanche either.


  26. What a fascinating discussion, and thanks to the Ronces BIA for kicking it off and for their genuine concerns for biking. I hope the Ronces cyclists will be as considerate to transit users – but we can be passholes.

    Bikes work pretty well in many circumstances, and while it may seem extreme to do winter biking or longer haul biking, it actually can be done and has its advantages – including better leverage of time when one would have a transfer.

    I like the idea of converting Queen to transit and bikes – goinggrreenonqueen@hotmail.com – though it’s primarily intended to push for something better east-west as there’s a black hole for east-west cycling south of Dundas and west of Bathurst into Parkdale in the Bike Plan – and the City has known about it for about six years and local councillors just failed to do something about it ie. start a study, though they will look at something east-west in the central city core.
    Figuring out a way of doing east-west safe biking in the core is very difficult because of the streetcar tracks – and we don’t really want to rip those up to repaint the street now do we! They dictate lane positions.

    But transit geeks should be aware and sensitive of the energy and resource demands of their favourite mode – when and if I take the subway – and I greatly appreciate being able to sometimes take my bike with a flat or lousy weather/unsafe riding – I try not to think of the radwaste.

    Oh. flange fillers – there’s a systemic liability for the extra dangers and harms from the streetcar tracks to cyclists – and there’s a huge disparity between the standards of liability set for the paying customers and cyclists ie. tough shit. There are LOTS of cyclists who have been injured, and the City collects absolutely no data on the injuries whatsover. Ignorance is bliss, just like the WWLRT is the transit option to the FSE – so what if it’s another few hundred million.

    thanks for the time/space/content steve.


  27. This design is bicycle hostile to an extreme. The present proposed design will force bicyclists to cross the currbside track at every bulbout. Crossing tracks is one of the riskiest maneuvers required of cyclists as they have to do so at as close to 90′ as possible to avoid being caught in the track. This also requires slowing down. The latter no doubt will inspire motorists to fits of aggressive driving further compounding matters.

    The most practical solution in my mind is requiring a 2 m lane between the curb and the streetcar bed so bicyclists can pass the bulbouts without having to negotiate the tracks. Two meters is the federal minimum standard for bike lanes and seems a reasonable compromise.


  28. The bicycle lane minimum is 1.5 m, not 2.0m. The standard width is between 1.8m and 2.0m. The shared bicycle lane would be 1.6m and is the distance between the bumpout and the first track. Automobiles and streetcars will not be able to pass bicycles while using the bicycle lane as they pass the bumpout. Whoever is passing the bumpout has the right-of-way at that moment, whether it is bicycle, streetcar, or automobile.


  29. Walter Lis said: “Automobiles and streetcars will not be able to pass bicycles while using the bicycle lane as they pass the bumpout. Whoever is passing the bumpout has the right-of-way at that moment, whether it is bicycle, streetcar, or automobile.”

    This is going to prove deadly to cyclists and potentially lead to cars sideswiping other cars at the centre line of the road. It will be compounded by the fact that vast numbers of cyclists flout all the rules of the road and also common courtesy. If this plan really does turn out this way then I’ll never ride my bike on Roncesvalles ever again for my own safety!

    One likely outcome of this will be more people illegally riding on the sidewalk. This is what happens all the time at the Keele Street/CP Rail underpass north of Dundas. The four-lane roadway is so narrow through the underpass that it is actually dangerous for trucks and buses to be in neighbouring lanes. Recently a car was forced onto the curb northbound and rolled onto its roof when it hit the pedestrian safety fence. Numerous cyclists have been seriously injured or killed in the past. Cyclists routinely ride at full road speed on the sidewalks rather than risk getting crushed against the raised curb. This has made it extremely dangerous to walk on the sidewalks because the cyclists behave like you can see them coming as if you have eyes in the back of your head!

    I have to think that forcing cyclists to make dangerous manouvers that are borderline illegal by design of the roadway should be considered a non-starter. If the curb cannot be practically extended all the way to the streetcar door edge like with the private right-of-way platforms then it should be set back far enough to allow for a safe bike lane width. Any cyclist who insists on trying to plow through boarding/alighting streetcar passengers at stops should have their drivers’ licence suspended and/or be very heavily fined. I witness this behaviour frequently on all the streetcar lines, but especially on the 501 downtown. I suspect an umbrella through the spokes just once would be enough to terminate that sort of ignorance!


  30. Clearly the argument over which form of transportation gets priority will continue to rage for years to come. All that I can think of saying is that in order to give the LRVs 100% right of way and leave room for bicyclists to freely go about is to run the streetcar lines underground and then say reconfigure a typical downtown four lane street to a layout similar to St. George St. at U of T.

    Having witnessed the construction of the Spadina LRT I was well aware that in order to make way for the ROW the sidewalks had to be narrowed and no bike lanes were provided, as is also the case with St. Clair. Had the Spadina LRT been run underground then I am sure that would have allowed for a full boulevard, reducing the hazard of crossing the street.

    While I am happy to see more being done to improve Toronto’s streetcar system, I still cannot forget how when I used to live downtown how many many streets there were that I *never* dared to bicycle on.

    Steve: One of the big issues with the original Spadina LRT design was that it didn’t have enough stops and was designed as an express link from the Bloor subway down to the railway lands. If it had been underground, none of those extra stations would have been added, and we would probably have lost one or two of those in the original proposal. In particular, the line would likely have done a lousy job of serving the U of T campus.

    This is one of those tradeoffs we pedestrians talk about. You can put the stops a long way apart (to save money on construction costs underground), but then we have to get to them. If, in the name of making space for cyclists, we put transit underground, not only do we make transit much less attractive for many pedestrians, we make the effective cost building bike lanes astronomical.


  31. I am assuming that the tracks will be embedded in concrete. Don’t want to create an uprising with the pneumatic crowd if they decide to go with cobblestones. Maybe there will be cobblestones at the crosswalks?

    Steve: No, not even at the crosswalks. The problem with mixed pavements is that they are hard to maintain, as we have already seen on St. Clair, and the City roads folks are not too pleased with them.


  32. I’m not sure that there logically should be an argument between overall transit and cyclists over priority given a 1.6m gap between the curb and the outside rail at a bump out. No matter how wide the distance between the curb and the edge of the streetcar a bike would still have to stop when a streetcar is at a stop just as it does now.

    The only actual argument over priority in this design is between cyclists and transit accessibility. This argument would be difficult to have without knowing the final configuration of the replacement streetcars.


  33. Maybe we have to toss this back to the BIA and the residents of the area:

    You seem to want two contradictory features: wider sidewalks and on-street parking. Your solution to narrow the parking lane will inevitably force the cars a little further out into the street creating more conflict between cyclists and auto traffic.

    We have come up with some ideas in the past such as St. George St. through the U of T campus and more recently Cherry St. So maybe if we take the comments back to the people of the area they might be able to come up with some modifications that all can live with.


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