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In response to the pandemic cycling boom, Toronto’s City
Council approved the installation of
25km of temporary bike lanes. A recent
Toronto Metropolitan University study revealed that the
installation of bike lanes in various neighbourhoods in Toronto has
doubled the number of cyclists. With more cycling comes an
increased risk of collisions. As described in our previous blog,
Are Cyclists Safe in Toronto?”, cycling collisions are
most commonly caused by driver inattention, excessive speed,
illegal and unsafe turns, doorings, a lack of safe cycling
infrastructure, debris, and general disrepair of roads. According
Toronto Police Service data, there were 218 cycling collisions
between 2016 and 2020 that resulted in serious injury or fatality.
One way that cyclists can take their safety into their own hands is
to avoid the roads that are known to be especially dangerous for
cycling. It’s important to know the roads and areas to avoid in
our city as well as the red and green flags to look out for when
planning your next cycling route.
Cycling in Toronto
Cycle TO has broken down Toronto’s cycling network into
four categories of infrastructure ordered from most to least
1. Protected Bike Lanes
Protected bike lanes are lanes that are separated by either a
curb, post, or combination of the two that are dedicated to
cyclists and run parallel to motorized vehicle traffic.
2. Painted Bike Lanes
Painted bike lanes are likely what you associate with cycling
infrastructure as they are the most common type in Toronto. As the
name suggests, painted bike lanes are lanes that run parallel to
motor vehicle traffic indicated by a solid white line and a white
bike symbol painted on the road. A dashed white line indicates
where a vehicle can enter the bike lane to turn at an
3. Multi-Use Paths are off-road paths and
Photo from the
Toronto Transportation Services Parks, Forestry &
4. Sharrows are not technically cycling
infrastructure. Rather, a sharrow is a bike symbol painted on the
road within the motor vehicle traffic lane with two
forward-pointing chevrons to indicate direction of travel. The
intent is to legitimize the presence of bicycles on the road;
however, they offer no distinct lane or protection.
Most Dangerous Roads for Cyclists
Toronto Police Service data, between 2006 and 2020, the areas
in which the most cycling collisions occurred were the following
The Waterfront Communities-Island:
- 40 cycling collisions
- Be cautious at the intersection of Lakeshore Boulevard East and
Carlaw Avenue as this intersection was found to be the
most dangerous in Toronto.
- Be aware that there are no bike lanes at Bathurst St. and Lake
Shore Blvd. W.
- 23 cycling collisions
- Avoid Dundas St. W between Bathurst and Spadina which lack any
- 21 cycling collisions.
- Be cautious on Bloor St W. between Dovercourt Rd and Symington
Ave, where the bike lane abruptly stops and starts again.
- Avoid the intersection of College St. and Lansdowne Ave. where
Lansdowne Ave. lacks any cycling infrastructure, and the bike lane
abruptly stops at College St.
What these areas have in common is that they are all
high-traffic commuter areas with several busy roads lacking cycling
In response to these dangers, Toronto City Council approved
the 2022-2024 Near-Term Implementation Program proposing 100km
worth of Bikeway Installations to be completed by 2024. In addition
to government action, Uber has also taken steps to protect
cyclists. In 2019, Uber
installed a feature to alert passengers to the presence of bike
lanes at their drop-off points with a notification that reads:
“A helpful reminder: Look over your shoulder for people on
bikes before opening the door.”. The intention behind this
feature, and a similar one implemented by Lyft in April 2019, is to
prevent dooring incidents.
While new cycling infrastructure is urgently needed, the
depreciation of our existing cycling infrastructure remains a
concern. In Now
Toronto, principal partner at McLeish Orlando, Patrick
Brown said that “the state of disrepair in a bike lane is
different than a car lane”, a pothole or damaged roadway can
mean life-altering injuries for a cyclist. The article, published
in 2019, listed Toronto’s 10 worst bike lanes due to continual
construction or disrepair:
- Shaw St. between Bloor and Dupont
- Bloor St. between Bathurst and Spadina
- Adelaide between York and Victoria and at Duncan Street
- Richmond between Spadina and Bathurst
- Shuter Street
- The Martin Goodman Trail between Bathurst and Lower
- The north side of College, east of Bathurst
- Greenwood just past the TTC yard
- Davenport between Dupont and Bay
- Gerrard between Sherbourne and Parliament
Planning your next route
Until Toronto builds many more kilometers of bike
infrastructure, cyclists will need to share the road with
automobiles. When planning your next cycling route be proactive and
consider these red and green flags.
|RED FLAG||GREEN FLAG|
|Sharrows: any major roads without bike lanes
are potentially very dangerous as you are required to share the
road with motor vehicles without any form of barrier or
|Cycle Tracks: these are “protected bike
lanes”. These lanes with a physical separation between
cyclists are considered the safest infrastructure for cyclists at
this time. These barriers have even been able to stop out of
|Roads with bikeways inside of the parking
lane: these present the potential for dooring
|Multi-use trails: these are scenic, quiet,
safe, and easy for beginner cyclists.
|Inconsistent bike infrastructure: it can be
extremely dangerous if the road on which you are planning to travel
has portions where bike lanes start and stop. Take a look at the
Toronto Cycling Map to make sure you will have a consistently
|Newly completed bike paths: a newly completed
path is likely to be in better shape than those that were installed
decades ago. Check
this report of newly completed bikeways as of 2021 to see if
you can prioritize any of the newly installed paths.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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