News / Toronto

Bike route improvements coming to Bathurst and Adelaide intersection

The bike lane attracts more than 500 riders during morning rush hour but the intersection wasn’t designed with bike traffic in mind.

Cyclists at the Bathurst and Adelaide intersection.

Torstar News Service

Cyclists at the Bathurst and Adelaide intersection.

Every morning, they start arriving by the dozens from points south, north, and west — cyclists converging on the intersection of Bathurst and Adelaide Sts.

The t-shaped intersection, which is at the entrance of the popular separated bike lane on Adelaide, is a two-wheeled frenzy during the morning rush.

The bike lane attracts more than 500 riders during morning rush hour, according to city counts, and as many as 50 riders can pass through the intersection on a single green light.

But the intersection wasn’t designed with bike traffic in mind, which means riders improvise. Cyclists coming from the north cross diagonally through the middle of the intersection to access the eastbound bike lane, while those coming from the southwest negotiate the Adelaide dogleg west of Bathurst by crowding the sidewalk in front of St. Mary’s Church as they wait for the light to change.

“It can be a safety and operational concern because there’s conflict between cyclists and pedestrians, and…it’s not clear from a motorist perspective where cyclists are going to be coming from,” said Jacquelyn Hayward Gulati, the city’s acting director of transportation infrastructure management.

That’s why the city is about to embark on a project to bring order to junction, and turn it into what cycling advocates say could be the most bike-friendly intersection in the city.

The $550,000 project, which is scheduled to begin construction July 31, will include a short physically-separated bike lane on the west side of the intersection that will curve north from Adelaide. For cyclists coming from the north, the city will install a curb-separated lay-by on the western side of the intersection.

Both measures will provide a protected space for cyclists to wait to cross the intersection.

The intersection’s lights are also being reconfigured to include traffic signals specifically for riders, which will be activated by a push-button in the lay-by.

Pavement markings will also be applied to guide cyclists into the bike lane, and to better mark pedestrian space.

The Bathurst-Adelaide project is the first major revamp of an intersection to accommodate cyclists in Toronto, and Gulati said that over the next two years the city is hoping to replicate it in at least two other locations — Queen St. West and Peter St., and O’Connor Dr. and Woodbine Ave.

Jared Kolb, executive director of Cycle Toronto, said the high volume of riders at the Bathurst intersection shows that the eastbound Adelaide separated bike lane, as well as its westbound partner on Richmond St., has been a “booming” success. One year after the lanes’ installation in 2014, cycling volumes on the two streets tripled. As many as 7,000 riders now use the routes on weekdays.

“When this city is building high-quality protected infrastructure, people are flocking to use it. And I think that really speaks to the latent demand,” Kolb said.

He applauded the city for responding to the increased cycling traffic at the intersection with improved infrastructure.

Councillor Joe Cressy (Ward 20 Trinity-Spadina), whose ward includes the Richmond and Adelaide bike lanes, said the fact that the city is starting to remake intersections to connect popular cycling routes marks a significant policy “evolution.”

“Step one in our city has been creating a bike grid. Step two is making the links work,” he said.

“It’s not as easy as putting down paint and dropping in a few bollards.”

Cressy predicted that the reconfiguration of the Bathurst intersection bodes well for the future of the Richmond and Adelaide bike lanes, which were installed on a pilot project basis and are still technically temporary.

A report on whether to make them permanent is expected from city transportation staff this fall.

“Every project’s technically a pilot project” in Toronto, Cressy said with a laugh.

“Richmond and Adelaide have been an overwhelming success. Frankly, they are permanent.”

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