The City of Toronto is set to undertake a major reconstruction project on Bloor Street West, spanning the stretch between Avenue Road and Spadina Avenue. The aim of this project is to implement various improvements that will enhance accessibility and safety for all road users.
Construction is planned to start in July 2023 and is anticipated to take approximately a year to complete. There will be a break in construction over the winter months, due to weather and temperature restrictions.
“Before the temporary protected bike lane was installed, Bloor Street was one of the most heavily used cycling routes in the city due to its location and east-west connectivity. After installation, cycling along this route increased by 49 per cent making Bloor Street the second most used bike lane in the entire city,” stated a spokesperson from the city’s transportation services department. “The temporary protected lane significantly increased levels of comfort and safety for both cyclists and drivers. Pedestrians also indicated that their experience of Bloor Street was the same or better than before the temporary bike lanes were installed.
According to Alison Stewart of Cycle Toronto only four per cent of city roadways have some form of cycling infrastructure. And, no, protected bike lanes and cycle tracks such as on Bloor Street do not cause traffic congestion. Instead, more bike lanes is one way to reduce congestion on city roads.
“Reducing the number of single car occupancy trips is integral to reducing vehicular traffic, which will free up roadways for public transit, emergency services, and business activities,” Stewart explained. “The City of Toronto’s climate plan, TransformTO Net Zero, aims for 75% of all trips five km or fewer to be made by active modes of transportation such as transit, walking, or biking. The lack of safe infrastructure is the biggest barrier for people to change their commute mode to biking.”
According to Toronto engineering and construction services, the scope of the project includes a full reconstruction of the road base and replacement of the asphalt surface; sidewalk replacement with accessibility upgrades; permanently raised cycle tracks from Spadina Avenue to Avenue Road on Bloor Street West, along with a protected intersection (designed to keep bicycles physically separated from motor vehicles up until the intersection) at Bloor Street West and St. George Street; and improvements to existing tree planters and other green infrastructure features
One significant enhancement to the cycling infrastructure will be the installation of permanent raised cycle tracks. The existing cycle tracks on Bloor Street were initially implemented as part of the Bloor Street Bike Lane Pilot Project in 2016 and were subsequently made permanent in 2017. The new permanent cycle tracks will be raised on both sides, similar to the section just east of Lippincott Street that was successfully implemented in 2019. These raised cycle tracks will feature a barrier curb between the vehicle curb lane or parking lane and the cycle track, where feasible, on the north side of Bloor Street. Additionally, a bevelled (rolled) curb will separate the cycle track from the sidewalk, allowing access across the cycle track for people using mobility devices. Precast concrete medians will be installed at the ends of parking sections.
The reconstruction project will also introduce a protected intersection at Bloor Street West and St. George Street. Protected intersections offer a high level of comfort and safety by keeping cyclists separated from motor vehicle traffic. They also benefit pedestrians by shortening the crossing distance and slowing down motor vehicle traffic with tighter curb radii. These protected intersections reduce the likelihood of high-speed vehicle turns, improve sightlines for all road users, and minimize the exposure of cyclists and pedestrians to conflicts with vehicles.
Furthermore, the project includes green infrastructure enhancements to promote sustainability and improve the overall environment. Existing tree pits will be enlarged to enhance the health of the trees by increasing oxygen supply, water filtration, and biological activity. Non-porous paving between trees will be replaced with permeable pavers, allowing rain runoff to passively irrigate the tree root zones, amongst other measures.
While the planned improvements on Bloor Street West will undoubtedly enhance accessibility and safety, they will require some changes to street parking arrangements. Parking spots will be reduced to accommodate longer bus stop platforms, and on-street parking will be shifted to the south side east of Spadina Avenue and east of St. George Street.