‘We need the debate’: Professor says Scarborough needs a long-term plan for cycle paths

A report released last month says the city of Toronto has been spinning its wheels for years, “with almost no progress,” in building a bike network across Scarborough.

Its writers, and people like Troy Rennie, who want to cycle the former city’s highways without fear, say the city needs a push – and a long-term plan.

Scarborough lacks “terribly” in safe areas for bikes, said Rennie, who regularly travels a small stretch of a Kingston Road bike path west of Birch Cliff.

The track, like almost every other bike space in Scarborough, does not connect with anyone else. Drivers, inattentive when speeding past, seem confused about the bike infrastructure they see, Rennie said.

“If it exists at all, it will not be taken care of,” he added.

The popularity of cycling increased during the pandemic, but cyclists on Scarborough’s main roads remain alienated and endangered, while Toronto continues to add cycling infrastructure elsewhere.

On 26 November, Prof. Andre Sørensen will tell the Scarborough councilors that this must be changed, and it can.

Sorensen, who co-authored “The Scarborough Opportunity” with University of Toronto Scarborough students, claims that Scarborough “has a chicken and egg problem” with cycling.

Few cyclists defy its fast arterial roads. Motorists and city officials see few cyclists, so they are not in a hurry to see bike paths being built.

Once built, setbacks occur. Drivers complained about temporary Brimley Road bike paths last year and deleted them after five months.

Praised by cyclists, new dedicated cycle paths on Brimley Road in Scarborough were removed in 2020 following complaints from motorists. – Metroland file image

But the planet is warming. Sorensen is convinced that continued car addiction hurts in Scarborough, and many more residents would cycle if a local cycling network existed.

“I think we should have a debate,” he said.

“If there’s a fight forever every few miles, Scarborough will never have a good network.”

Sorensen proposes a “temporary” network that he believes can be built in a few years, including some arteries going east-west and others north-south.

Yes, cycling space must move past squares, bus shelters and ramps to and from Highway 401. But for Sorensen, Scarborough’s “option” is in generous rights – which means you can cycle over what are now strips of grass next to it. Curbs – – and car lanes that can be narrowed without removing any.

“At a crossroads, you can do a lot with paint. You are not talking about rebuilding all the way, ”he said.

Many off-road trails in Scarborough are four feet wide and designed to walk, Sorensen said, so it is “sincere” to call them bike paths, as the city does, until they are wider or separated for walking and cycling.

Jacquelyn Hayward, its design director for transport projects, says the city “remains committed” to expanding Scarborough’s cycle network with off-street paths and on-street cycle paths, but added expansion where possible is included in road reconstruction and reconstruction projects. ” typically planned up to five years out. “

Sorensen said this approach is logical, but it will take decades to show results. Out of 15 advertised cycle path projects, across the city, for 2021, none were in Scarborough.

On October 26. Kevin Rupasinghe, a Cycle Toronto advocate, told a Toronto Council committee that the city missed out on several opportunities to add cycling infrastructure in Scarborough when the roads were remodeled, a gap between policy and implementation.

Hafeez Alavi, 16, said cycling on Scarborough sidewalks (illegal over 14 years old) is “normalized”, an excuse not to create bike paths.

Behavior is driven by available opportunities, and what is happening with cycling in Scarborough is simply unfair, he said.

Paul Ainslie, Scarborough-Guildwood’s councilor, prompted the committee to request a short-term bicycle project update on 2 December, as well as a presentation to Scarborough councilors in early 2022 on a long-term plan with Sorensen’s proposals in mind for a Scarborough bicycle network. .

Galloway Road between Guildwood Parkway and Coronation Drive is a marked bike route but could get a formal bike path after consultation with residents. Scarborough, professor at the University of Toronto, Andre Sorenson, says he has some cycling infrastructure but has the chance to add more. – Dan Pearce / Metroland

Anslie also requested that a signed Galloway Road cycle route between Guildwood Parkway and Coronation Drive be upgraded to a cycle path.

“Galloway Road, like many roads in Scarborough, is wide enough to add designated cycle paths and preserve existing traffic flow,” he explained last month.


Reporter Mike Adler wondered what was behind Scarborough’s lack of progress in getting new cycling infrastructure and sought opinions from cyclists.