Despite some drama, and the relatively long construction time – Royal York Road now has a fantastic bike lane. It connects multiple neighborhoods, has some great shopping destinations, and it’s a very enjoyable and scenic ride.
Start: Lakeshore Boulevard
End: North of Eglinton Ave.
Length: ’round about 11km. Yup – that’s long. If you look at the official bike lane map, the city doesn’t recognize the stretch between Mimico Creek and Usher Avenue as an “Official Bike Lane”. That’s because it’s a ‘sub-standard’ 1.25 m wide. It’s still a bike lane though, ask any of the cyclists that use it. It’s big enough for me and my wide load – and that’s saying a lot. Check out a Google Street View of the sub-standard lane.
But where does it go? Check out the Wikipedia entry on Royal York Road for some of our local landmarks. It takes me from my house to the grocery store, the library, the nursery (where I spend a lot of time come May), the park, the lake, the bike shop, playgroup, I could go on. I can find everything I need up and down Royal York Road.
Speed: There are quite a few schools in my neighborhood, and so the posted speed limit is 40km/h in those areas. The rest of the way is 50km/h. There are just enough traffic lights and stop signs to keep traffic moving, but calmly. Emphasis on calmly. Islington – one street West, takes most of the traffic in this area because it connects to the QEW.
No on-street parking: not the whole length, but most of it. In Mimico Village there’s parking at the side of the road, but it’s a small stretch compared to the overall length.
Beauty: I dare someone to ride the length of this bike land and count the number of mature trees. Plus, you’ll cross two creeks, and end up at the lake. How many other bike lanes can say that?
The last, and most important important reason for me: CONFIDENCE. The fact that there is a bike lane practically at my door gave me the confidence to give up my car. Knowing that I have a safe, efficient way to get where I need to go by bike was a huge factor in my decision. Sure, there were other motivators, but without the bike lane, it might never have occurred to me to go by bike. Seriously.
So there you go – the Royal York Road bike lane is responsible for one less car – one more cyclist. A pretty good reason why it’s Toronto’s best bike lane.