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More West Toronto Railpath News

Less than an hour after I posted about the progress on the West Toronto Railpath this morning, Tammy Thorne posted onto the Spacing Wire a re-cap of the “unveiling” meeting that took place on Monday night. It doesn’t look good, but I’m going to stay optimistic:



The WTR park itself is between 10 and 15 metres wide. The strip of asphalt (the “multi-use” path) will be 3.5 metres wide (1.75 in each direction) with a granulated shoulder. The length of the path is 2.1 kms…. A multi-use trail is designed to permit more than one user group at a time, creating a two-way shared use area. The paved portion of the WTR is simply too narrow to accommodate multiple users safely. There was some discussion about the City’s new way-finding signage (to be used in the Don Valley trails first) that could be used in the Railpath to help direct user etiquette. It was also mentioned that the path will only be plowed in winter if the City deems there is “need.”


The general impression I’m getting from the Spacing post is that it will be useless – due to the first (northern) part of the railpath being for more than cyclists, as well as unconnected to other cycling infrastructure.

As I said above, I’m going to stay optimistic. This is just the first railroad right-of-way in Toronto being converted to a place for “human-powered transportation”… we can all hope it won’t be the last. Anything that encourage the use of bikes, rollerblades, walking is okay by me. I’m no bike snob. Okay… maybe a little.

The fact is that this is the first drop in the bucket of potential that exists in this city for a network of seperate-from-auto-traffic pathways for people to use their bikes to get to different parts of the city.

Go check out the Railpath & Hydro Corridor Map I put together a couple months ago, and you’ll see what I mean.

  • DJW

    I agree that staying optimistic is a good idea. It has taken such a long time that to dump on it now because it’s not a “bike highway” takes away from the fact that it’ll be good for the neighbourhood. I don’t live in the neighbourhood anymore (and I was waiting for that darn thing for years while I did) but I’ll make a point of riding out there once in a while to use it.

  • John Spragge

    Um… if the city doesn’t plow it, it won’t do us a bit of good for utility biking. We will only see people in Toronto use bicycles in appreciable numbers when and if they can cycle for transportation year around.

    Cycle parks open (in effect) only in summer merely perpetuate the Rob Ford paradigm: cyclists ride for fun, not to get anywhere, so we should stay of the roads and stop inconveniencing drivers, people with “real” business.

    If we want to resist this, I honestly have reached the point where I think we have to tell the city: if you don’t plan to plow it, don’t bother to build it.

    I looked forward to a trail as well, but let’s face it. Every “no winter maintenance” sign on a bike trail tells those who see it that the city of Toronto doesn’t consider cycling a serious form of transportation. If we want to promote cycling as a form of transportation, we have to hold the feet of our allies to the fire sometimes.

  • DJW

    Maybe this is a situation where community action and involvement would be in order. If the city isn’t going to plow the trail, maybe a “Friends of the Railpath” group could organize to clear the trail and make sure it’s usable year-round.

  • John Spragge

    As a believer in community self-reliance, I agree with you, but unfortunately this still ends up sending the wrong message about cycling and city priorities. We should have a “friends of the rail path”, but they should no more have to provide basic maintenance than business improvement area members have to shovel the snow and fill the potholes on Bloor. The city provides these services for automobile traffic, and when we let them get away with providing services to cars and not to bikes that sends a message about the value and nature of cycling.

    Worse, when we let them get away with providing services to cyclists in summer but not in winter, we allow a very specific message, equating cycling with recreation and bicycles with toys. Nobody commutes in summer but not in winter. And that message fits far too well with what politicians who oppose services and accommodations for cycling say. If cycling means playing, then Rob Ford has a point: people should not play on the street.

    If we want a safe place to cycle, then a trail maintained by volunteers may suffice. But if we want to change to social contract which prevails on our streets, we need to pay close attention to what the policies our city adopts actually say.

  • geoffrey

    Maybe its petition time again. Would you be interested in putting up pointers Joe? A cyclists bill of rights perhaps?

  • Joe (BikingToronto)

    Tuco would have pointers, as he is just finishing up the Tax Credit for Cyclists Petition that will be read in the House of COmmons by Olivia Chow…


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