Streetcar Track and Cyclists

The matter of streetcar track and cycling will be considered by the Public Works Committee on November 14, 2012.  How much coverage this will receive, considering that the first item on the agenda is the proposed ban of plastic bags, remains to be seen.

The report, in brief, says that streetcar tracks have been around for a century and the problem is how to improve cyclist safety.  Removal or covering over of tracks would be done only for inactive parts of the system.

Most of the inactive track is listed for removal as part of planned road paving jobs in the next decade.  The City’s report includes:

  • 2013:
    • Neville Loop tail track: A fragment of this long-disconnected track is still visible south of Queen.  On an historic note, this street was the last place to have track set in wooden block paving, but that’s long gone.
    • Richmond Street eastbound track from east of Yonge to York (*)
    • York Street southbound track from Queen to Wellington (*)
  • 2014:
    • Wellington Street eastbound track from York to Church (*)
  • 2019:
    • Adelaide Street both ways from Charlotte to Victoria
  • Not yet in capital program:
    • Wychwood from St. Clair to south end of Wychwood Yard
    • Kipling Loop tail track
  • (*) The TTC capital program includes reconstruction of the track in these streets’ one-way direction

This list is incomplete because it does not mention:

  • Church northbound from Wellington to south of King (obsolete due to no access from Wellington)
  • Victoria northbound from Adelaide to Richmond (obsolete due to no access from Adelaide)
  • Bingham Loop tail track (Kingston Road at Victoria Park): This may be removed as part of the TTC’s Kingston Road project in 2013, but it is not clear from the TTC capital budget exactly which special work at Bingham Loop is to be removed.

It is now clear that the TTC does not intend to retain the eastbound track on Adelaide Street which has been unusable due to various construction projects for years, and which is in very bad repair thanks to many pavement heaves, asphalt patches and utility cuts.  I cannot help wondering why the TTC has included replacement of the overhead poles for this street in its ongoing program.  Possibly they never got around to deciding until the cycling issue came up, or the electrical planners didn’t know what the track folks had in mind.

Adelaide has been out of service for so long that one could hardly claim that the TTC is losing flexibility because they have done without it for over a decade.  In any event, there are many years before the scheduled removal, and if a case can be made for reactivating the track, it will still be around, albeit in appalling condition, for a while.

As for the cyclists, the report is basically saying “be careful”, and the issue is now one of finding ways to make the roads safer for cycling without removing active streetcar lines.