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Toronto Yearns for Bicycle Superhighway 8

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Photo and video by James D. Schwartz / The Urban Country

On October 30 2009, the first section of the West Toronto Rail Path officially opened. A 2.1KM stretch from Cariboo Ave. in the north to Dundas St. West in the south, the rail path provides cyclists an automobile and traffic light-free route.

Although a positive step in the right direction, this $4 million path will be of little use for prospective cycling commuters until the full length of the proposed path is completed – or until it connects cyclists with a better network of cycling routes (Check out how they do it in the Netherlands).

The rail path was originally hailed as a possible future bicycle superhighway, but cyclists have criticized the trail for its lack of separation between pedestrians and cyclists.

When I first learned about this path a couple years back, I was excited about its potential. If implemented properly, cycling commuters could ride to work from the northwest side of the city without having to deal with traffic lights or automobiles. It’s a cycling commuter’s dream.

Unfortunately it will be several more years before the remaining portion of the path is completed – if it ever gets completed. The plan is to extend the trail further east to Strachan Ave., but the ideal state would see the trail extended all the way to Union Station.

The following video is a tour of the path based on footage I took this morning featuring Metric’s “Gold Guns Girls” (acoustic version).

All flaws aside, I still think this trail has a lot of potential, and there are several other railroad corridors that could be leveraged to create a network of useful bike paths.

If bicycles were given an unobstructed, safe, and efficient bicycle trail into the heart of the city, we would see a lot more people on bicycles. People will always flock to their cars if cars are the most convenient and efficient way to get to the city.

Satellite road tolling and a proper network of bicycle paths could change the status quo.

James D. Schwartz is the editor of The Urban Country. You can view all of James’ articles here.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04170152877824201743 boyan

    Awesome video production! :)

  • Anonymous

    James you really nailed it. Well Done! it looks like a great resource and will be a nicer ride when greenery grows as it seems to have room to do. and so send this to David Hembrow . Cheers, Mike

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09507726400631105540 David Latimer

    Hey! Right by the Navantis office. Great route for some fellow Navantisites. Nice video … liked the feel.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04454437680686627778 James D. Schwartz

    Thanks for the feedback guys. I’m looking forward to making more videos in the future – with inspiration and mentoring from Mike Rubbo.

    Dave, you’re right, it is right by the Navantis office. Maybe we’ll see more Navantis boys ride their bikes to hockey Wednesday mornings ;)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14543024940730663645 David Hembrow

    Excellent video. While overall it looks rather nice as you ride along, I can understand why the path is criticised.

    If it’s unique in the area then it’s likely to be too popular, leading to pedestrians and cyclists fighting over too little paved are.

    If it doesn’t link up, it’s not of much use to cyclists. And…

    I’ve not been there, but it looks to me as if it has an inadequate feeling of social safety due to fences at the side of the path, dereliction of some of the areas it goes through and the path almost entirely not being overlooked by anything. People may not feel safe riding along here at midnight.

  • Anonymous

    I’m with David Hembrow.

    As a short female who knows the city, there is zero way I would take that route home late at night.

    Many of the bike paths in Holland are visible from the car and pedestrian areas, if not part of them.

    G.

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