Bike lanes and more safety measures coming to one of Toronto’s most dangerous roads

In the next week or so, the city of Toronto will begin construction of cycle tracks along both sides of Avenue Road from Bloor to Dupont.

It’s part of an approved cycling network expansion and comes to one of the city’s most dangerous stretches of roadway where two cyclists have been killed by drivers of vehicles in recent memory. 

Michael Longfield, executive director of Cycle Toronto, is pleased with the move but thinks the city needs to push further with its bicycle plan. 

“This stretch of Avenue Road is one of the most dangerous roads in Toronto for people on bikes, with three fatalities in recent years,” he said. “The pedestrian improvements being considered north of Davenport are a good first step to eventually making Avenue Road a Complete Street — that’s safer for all road users.” 

After years of waiting, the initial steps to create a safer Avenue Road for the residents of the Annex neighbourhood and other areas that line the arterial road are finally underway with additional safety improvements approved by council slated for the section of Avenue north of Davenport. But not everyone is thrilled with the results.

Toronto’s Transportation Services unveiled an interim update on the Avenue Road Study at a recent meeting. Initiated in 2019, the study aims to enhance safety along Avenue Road from Bloor Street to St. Clair Avenue West.

The study was forwarded to Toronto City Council where it was approved on June 26.

Key recommendations in the plan include installing a median between the northbound left-turn and centre through lanes, banning U-turns between Dupont and Macpherson Avenue, and creating a southbound right-turn-only lane for buses and bicycles near Dupont. A pedestrian signal will also be added near 215 Avenue Rd. to improve crossing safety.

“The Avenue Road Safety Coalition (ARSC) has reviewed the proposed road safety  improvements, however it’s concerned that the city is not adequately addressing the serious pedestrian safety issues in this area, which were identified in the city’s Avenue Road Study findings,” said Arlene Desjardins, on behalf of ARSC. 

“The safety of pedestrians using Avenue Road, particularly seniors and children and those using mobility devices and pushing strollers, is as urgent and vital as the safety of drivers and cyclists.”

The group suggested the slated improvements as proposed would “not provide adequate infrastructure for the vulnerable road users,” in addition to not meeting “minimum provincial requirements specified in the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and City’s guidelines.” ARSC also claimed the plan will encourage speeding. 

Amongst the many initiatives ARSC would like to see is the reduction of vehicle lanes between Davenport and Dupont from six to four and providing turning lanes at Davenport and Dupont as well as installing a new signalized crosswalk midblock between Davenport and Dupont at the entrance to Ramsden Park.

A comprehensive report on the long-term vision for Avenue Road will be presented at a future infrastructure and environment committee meeting. Councillor Dianne Saxe has clarified that pedestrian and cyclist improvements along Avenue between Davenport and Bloor have already received approval. 

Further pedestrian improvements for the stretch between Davenport and Dupont could be presented at a future community council meeting.