For cyclists crossing the Beach Triangle, there are no two ways about it.
Going to and from the long bike lane on Dundas Street East means riding to busy Kingston Road or Queen Street East, or else going the wrong way on Dixon Avenue, a quiet residential street.
That’s why local cycling advocates are asking the city to paint a “contra-flow” bike lane on Dixon. It would make Dixon two-way for cyclists, but leave it one-way for other vehicles.
“It actually makes the street safer for all road users,” says David Oppenheim of Ward 32 Spokes, the local chapter of Cycle Toronto.
“If you stand at Dixon and Dundas, you’ll see plenty of cyclists going what is currently the wrong way on Dixon.”
Christina Bouchard is a cycling planner at the City of Toronto who recently did a walk-through on Dixon Avenue with Ward 32 Spokes and City Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon.
Bouchard said Dixon is an obvious link to get cyclists past the barrier of Kingston Road and into the Beach Triangle neighbourhood.
From there, she said cyclists could use existing traffic signals to cross Queen, thus linking up with the Beach.
“It’s an easy one,” Bouchard said, noting that Dixon is wide enough to add the lane. All street parking on Dixon is also on one side of the street.
Oppenheim said Ward 32 Spokes has also proposed a contra-flow lane on Norway Avenue, which would extend the Dundas-Dixon route into the Beach without having to cross Queen Street, or its streetcar tracks.
Asked if he’d ever fallen on streetcar tracks, Oppenheim said he crashed on the Queen tracks while training to make left onto Rainsford Road.
“I think if you talk to anyone who cycles fairly often, they’ve had a fall, and often streetcar tracks are the worst culprit,” he said.
Bouchard said the city will look at Norway after Dixon, but added that it may be difficult to link the two.
According to the current proposal, cyclists could continue from Dixon up Columbine Avenue to Norway. The trouble is how to safely cross Woodbine Avenue.
The answer may be the new pedestrian-controlled traffic signal that city council approved for Woodbine last fall, but Bouchard said right now it is designed to go 40 metres north of Norway.
“We need to discuss that further, to see how cyclists would use it,” she said.
East Toronto has several contra-flow lanes already, including one on Knox Avenue, between Queen and Eastern Avenue, and on Logan and Strathcona Avenues in Riverdale.
Painted with a solid yellow line, the lanes are restricted to cyclists going in a single direction. If a lane is added, the one-way signs on Dixon would stay up, but with a “Bicycles Excepted” tab below.
As for cost, Bouchard said a bike lane like the one proposed for Dixon typically averages $10 per metre.
“It’s a real bargain,” she said.
“Putting a bit of paint on the road for bikes in residential neighbourhoods is quite cheap.”
A public meeting about the bike lane proposal is scheduled for Feb. 18 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Beaches Recreation Centre. It will be held in Room 4, which is on the second floor.