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Photos and Review of the New Bloor Viaduct Bikelanes

I was up early this morning, so went out for a ride to the new re-painted Bloor-Danforth bikelanes to see what they were like (and take photos for you).  They are, on the whole, great!  I say this from someone who crosses the Viaduct twice a day to and from work.

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Looking east past the westbound entrance to the DVP/Bayview on-ramp.  You can see  the old bikelane line on the left side, mid-range… they widened the bikelane significantly and “doubled” for more visual presence (it’ll help drivers see it easier)… and added sharrows at the part where cars cross the bikelane.

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The lane approaching Bloor and Castle Frank.  Nice and wide, and easy to see. :)

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I was disappointed to see, though, that it is *only* the Viaduct portion of the Bloor bikelanes that have been upgraded.  From Sherbourne to just west of the bridge the bikelanes are still in pretty bad shape, line-wise.  You can hardly see them in spots.  This photo is from just east of Sherbourne.

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More un-updated bikelane… this is just getting very close to the Viaduct… you can see the western end of it in the distance.

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Here’s where the “new and improved” bikelane starts, on the east side of the Bloor and Castle Frank intersection.

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Look at these!  Beautiful!  Not only are they wider and have a larger visual presence, but cars seem to brake more approaching the curve to the right as the Viaduct starts…

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Look at the extra width on the corner!  Great.. and the car lanes are narrowed a little bit, so cars seemed to be going slower.  I knew the old bikelane was too narrow to feel completely safe, but it looks like it was especially narrow compared to the new lines.

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On the Viaduct itself, there isn’t a whole lot of extra room, but it feels safer due to the extra line.  All superficial of course, but if cars go a bit slower, and cyclists feel a bit safer, then the end result is more people on bikes!

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Approaching the eastbound on-ramp to the Don Valley Parkway…

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There are some chevrons painted on the road showing where cyclists cross, and sharrows over where the bikelane continues…. but I was cycling and missed the chevrons completely (I had to walk back on the sidewalk and take this photo and the next one)…

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There are 3 sets of chevrons going diagonally across the on-ramp entrance… and they are not very visible at all.  I actually did not see them and crossed over to the other side before I got to the chevrons.  Perhaps there are bike-stencils planned to go along with the chevrons (making them sharrows), or some kind of signage… but as it stands now, it needs work.

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Once you cross over though… it’s *very* evident where bikes should be. :)

What do YOU think?  Have you ridden the new improved Viaduct bikelanes?  If you have or haven’t, what are your impressions?

  • I rode this last week for the first time. I wasn’t aware that there were improvements planned, so I wasn’t looking for the changes. I didn’t notice the widened bike lane over the bridge; in fact, the first thing I noticed was the lane change approaching Broadview. Joe, I think you’re right about the chevrons not being clear enough; I saw the lane markers I was supposed to be in long before I saw the chevrons.

    My feedback for how to best improve this and other bike lanes, sharrows, etc. — short of protected/removed from traffic lanes — is that we should adopt something like I’ve seen in pics from other cities, where the lanes are painted blue with the markings on top in white.

    Regards,
    Paul

  • Great post Joe.

    The lane change you have to make to get out of he on-ramp lane for the DVP north-bound has always been a challenge. The improvents are good, but not good enough, imho.

    Once I’m past the bridge’s balustrade I’m looking behind me for an opportunity to take the left side of that lane as soon as I can. The closer I am to the on-ramp the more dangerous I think it becomes. Cars are thinking about their speed for that tricky ramp and throwing in speed change decisions relating to cyclists merging, makes a difficult situation dangerous.

    In your 4th from last photograph, where the bike lane seems to change vectors slightly, near the yellow traffic sign – before there, there, and past there – is where I think all the merging needs to happen, and where all the paint and signage needs to be as well. The bike lane inbetween the two car lanes should probably come a lot further west than that – almost to the bridge.

    That way cars will be aware what cyclists are up as soon as there on that ‘after the bridge’ section of the road. I think it’s key that planners understand that a new ‘story’ in everyone’s ‘commute narrative‘ starts just past the bridge.

    (Perhaps student of urban planning Bikeroo can chime in here – is something like this part of planning-think?)

    For cyclists it is a very dangerous part of their commute narrative, full of tension and potential. An Action Adventure! :)

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  • Great news everyone! The city has re-painted the bikelane markings between Sherbourne and Castle Frank!

    Thanks to BikingToronto members and followers on Twitter who let the city know (repeatedly) that this had to be done!

  • Sage Tyrtle

    I really appreciate this post – I’m fairly new to biking around Toronto, and a review from an experienced biker is extremely helpful.

  • Glad you liked the review Sage. I’m east end experienced… but west-end I’m a novice. You and Todd can help me with that some day.

  • Wow – Sage and I just took the tandem across town and rode these today. VAST improvement. I had no idea how narrow the old ones were until I saw these. Very nice! And I also noticed that drivers seemed to be going slower across the viaduct as a result.

  • I know what you mean Todd… I ride these everyday, but when the new ones went in I was amazed at the new width… it makes it much easier/safer to pass other cyclists (and have other cyclists pass you). According to the city, the new width varies from 1.5-1.8 metres.

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