Over some drinks at the Pilot last week a challenge was issued at the table of Biking Toronto Bloggers (Bloggees? Blogsters? Bloggites? Bloggonauts?): find the best bike lane in Toronto (Sure the answer can be pretty subjective but I think that’s sort of the point). I’ll be writing about my nomination: the St. George St/Beverley St bike lane. This bike lane, marked as route 35 in Toronto’s bike lane network, is the best bike lane for cyclists downtown and here’s why.
Source: Transport Canada
Running north/south in downtown Toronto, the St. George/Beverley bike lane is an important connection for those coming from midtown to downtown. A great bike lane is a bike lane that connects to other bike infrastructure making travel safe and efficient for cyclists. From the north, the bike lane connects to a series of sharrowed lanes including Balmoral rd/Tichester st (route 20), Russell Hill rd (route 35), Old Forest Hill rd/Dunvegan rd (route 33), and Barton/Lowther (route 16).
There are also several bike lanes which either connect to or are within easy access of reaching the St. George/Beverley lane such as Davenport rd (route 18), Harbord st/Hoskin rd (route 14), and College st (route 12). All of these connections easily make St. George/Beverley one of the best connected and important bike lane in the bike network.
St. George Street was originally a busy thoroughfare for drivers adding danger for cyclists and pedestrians a like. In 1997, St. George underwent a “road diet”, narrowing the lane width for cars, increasing sidewalk widths, adding a bike lane as well as speed controlling infrastructure. These changes came in response to an increasing amount of drivers using a road with a really high flow of cyclists and pedestrians. Not only does the uplift look great but it has also increased safety for all users. This route may also be one of the faster alternatives; using St. George/Beverley from Dupont St down to Queen St W there are only six controlled intersections (some are semi-actuated and most of the time you will encounter them as green lights) and a handful of stop signs.
Heading downtown during rush hour can be daunting for some since an increased volume of all types of traffic funnel into what little road space we have. Without the St. George/Beverley, cyclists would have little choice in terms of north/south connections into the downtown core: Spadina Ave, McCaul St, University Ave and Bay St are all examples of less than desirable routes for cyclists and the use of side roads which twist and wind all are not practical.
The road itself is in fantastic shape. Unlike roads such as Harbord it’s rare to encounter any potholes that can lead to a bumpy commute and the speed bumps on St. George between Harbord and College and cyclist friendly while slowing down traffic to a safe speed for everyone.
One of the best things about St. George/Beverley is that it connects cyclists to where they want to go; it isn’t a road to nowhere. Neighbourhoods like the Annex, Queen West, University of Toronto, Chinatown, Kensington Market, and Hospital Row are either adjacent to or are a stone’s throw away from the bike lane. In addition, there are a lot of attractions within proximity from the Bata Shoe Museum to the Art Gallery of Ontario. And if you run into any bike problems there are a few bike shops nearby such as Urbane Cyclist, Bikes on Wheels, La Carrera Cycles and Curbside Cycle.
Posted: April 12th, 2010
Filed under: Transportation Issues
Tags: bike lane, Toronto bike network | 5 Comments »