When the Wrong Way is the Right Way – Montrose Avenue Bike Lane

Currently, amid the abundance of one-way streets in Toronto there are just two contra-flow bike lanes. Contra-flow bike lanes allow cyclists to go against the grain of car traffic, something I’m certain many people including myself would like to see more of in the downtown core.

One of these lanes is in Riverdale and runs along Strathcona Avenue helping to lead cyclists eastbound from Withrow Park before ending at Jones Avenue. The second lane, one I took a quick ride along on a quiet afternoon, runs north from Harbord Street up to Bloor Street West along Montrose Avenue just east of Bickford Park.

When you reach Harbord on Montrose, ready to head north, you’re greeted with the signs pictured below:

Looking North up Montrose Avenue from Harbord
Visible ahead of you are the bike lane, a sign alerting you to the bike lane (with handy arrow pointing it out), and the “Bicycles Excepted” notice below the “Do Not Enter” symbol.

After cycling north from College Street on either Crawford or Beatrice (or the wrong way along that stretch of Montrose) a bike lane here allows the converging traffic on Montrose to continue heading north towards Christie Pits Park. Without this bike lane you could turn left to get to Crawford or turn right where you’re faced with another southbound one-way at Grace Street.

The one-way streets here are to keep motorists from taking short cuts north through residential streets. Yet, as we all know, cyclists don’t pose near as many threats as rushing drivers and we don’t take up quite as much space. I’m not sure if Montrose once allowed north and southbound traffic although with Grace also running one-way southbound it’s easy to believe it did as one-way streets typically alternate off of major streets. And now motorists get to park and cyclists get to ride, that’s compromise in action.

However, should you be cycling west along Harbord (something that many, many cyclists do) then you encounter this group of signs at Montrose:

Do what now? No Left Turn signs on Harbord
Those two large “No Right Turn” symbols are certainly not welcoming. Now, you’d probably ride right on past Montrose unless you either already know that this bike lane exists or you’re following The Bikeway Network Route System signs (that’s the itty bitty blue 29 with an even smaller arrow pointing the way).

So, now that we know that we can legally act like “bike salmon” let’s take a spin up Montrose.

The street is rather quaint and tree-lined. Our bike lane has a good, thick, yellow line to keep cars out. In my experience there’s almost nothing better at keeping cars out than a yellow line. White lines, they seem to beg to be crossed over, but yellow, you don’t mess with yellow.

But wait, there’s more signs:

Who is this sign for? Bike lane sign faces cyclists, not motorists.
Isn’t this nice? Thank you, sign, for reminding me that I am in fact in a dedicated bike lane. Of course, I wouldn’t have forgotten so soon, but someone else might.

Looking over my shoulder I notice something missing from the west side of the street. Plenty of cars are over there, as to be expected. There’s a few signs displaying the parking rules but there isn’t a single sign saying, “Hey, if you see a cyclist coming towards you on the left, it’s OK, they are in a bike lane, carry on.” It is this problem that I notice more each day as I ride through Toronto. It seems as though there are signs for cyclists and there are signs for motorists. As a bike rider, I’m expected to obey both of these signs. Motorists, it seems, simply aren’t included in the full conversation.

All this worrying about signs and I’m already at the end of the road. I look down, and there’s this:

These faded dots will stop traffic for you.
Bicycle actuated signals are popping up left and right in Toronto, so I was pleasantly surprised to find one here. I come to a rest over the dots (or what is left of them) and within about 30 seconds the traffic light ahead changed to green and off I went, turning left on Bloor Street:

The end of the Montrose Avenue Bike Lane.
As Toronto continues to add bicycle lanes and other infrastructure, more contra-flow lanes can create a safe routes allowing cyclists to avoid the many hazards you will find on much busier arteries. Something I’d also like to see is that the added signs and lanes also work to get motorists in on the conversation. A few “Share the Road” signs here and there could help improve the safety of cyclists giving motorists constant reminders that we’re there, even if we’re not making near as much noise or taking up so much space.


  1. I simply want to tell you that I’m newbie to blogs and definitely loved you’re website. Very likely I’m likely to bookmark your blog . You surely come with amazing article content. Thanks a bunch for revealing your webpage.

  2. I simply want to tell you that I am just beginner to blogging and site-building and actually enjoyed you’re website. Likely I’m want to bookmark your blog post . You definitely have remarkable articles and reviews. Thanks for sharing your webpage.

  3. I just want to mention I’m very new to blogs and actually loved this blog site. Likely I’m going to bookmark your website . You amazingly come with tremendous stories. Bless you for sharing with us your blog site.

  4. I just want to mention I’m new to blogging and site-building and seriously savored this web page. Probably I’m want to bookmark your website . You actually have great posts. Cheers for sharing with us your website page.

  5. I simply want to tell you that I am just new to blogging and seriously loved your blog. Almost certainly I’m likely to bookmark your blog post . You definitely have tremendous well written articles. Thank you for sharing with us your web page.

  6. Simply want to say your article is as amazing. The clarity in your post is simply nice and i could assume you are an expert on this subject. Fine with your permission let me to grab your RSS feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please continue the enjoyable work.

  7. This actually answered my problem, thanks!

  8. you’ve got an important weblog right here! would you wish to make some invite posts on my blog?

  9. It’s actually a great and helpful piece of information. I am glad that you shared this useful information with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Generally I don’t read article on blogs, however I wish to say that this write-up very compelled me to take a look at and do it! Your writing taste has been amazed me. Thanks, very nice post.

  11. I not to mention my guys were checking the great advice found on the blog then all of the sudden developed a horrible suspicion I never thanked the web blog owner for those techniques. Most of the boys became for that reason very interested to learn all of them and already have very much been enjoying these things. I appreciate you for actually being simply considerate and for selecting these kinds of extraordinary things most people are really wanting to learn about. My very own honest regret for not saying thanks to sooner.

  12. Excellent post. I was checking continuously this weblog and I am impressed! Very helpful info particularly the last part :) I handle such info much. I used to be seeking this certain information for a very lengthy time. Thanks and good luck.

  13. hello!,I like your writing so much! share we communicate more about your post on AOL? I require an expert on this area to solve my problem. May be that’s you! Looking forward to see you.

  14. Definitely, what a great website and informative posts, I will bookmark your blog.All the Best!

  15. Good day! This post could not be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my old room mate! He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this post to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Many thanks for sharing!

  16. Every day I check the new information

  17. Real wonderful info can be found on site . “We should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe.” by Oliver Wendell Holmes.

  18. I gotta favorite this website it seems extremely helpful handy

  19. Appreciate it for helping out, excellent information.

  20. Perfectly written articles, appreciate it for information. “Life is God’s novel. Let him write it.” by Isaac Bashevis Singer.

  21. Home Lawyers… […]just below, are some completely unrelated internet sites to ours, even so, they’re surely worth checking out[…]…


  1. […] those of you who have been visiting BikingToronto for a while, you’ll know that Duncan started the first of many member blogs on the site last summer.  His City Rides blog has been a great […]

  2. […] of the above photo, that’s where Crawford continues. Head right, and you’ll end up on Montrose. There’s a blue circle bicycle sign hidden, […]

Speak Your Mind