On my way home from work, I decided to take a different route and head south on the infamous Don Trail, widely recommended by Toronto cyclists. I was enjoying my cruise from St. Clair through the Moore Park Ravine when, 10 minutes later (without any warning signs), my route home was abruptly stopped by the Lower Don Trail closure. I was stuck beside Bayview Ave. south of the Danforth with nowhere to turn except back north. There were no other trail options offered along the road either.
I had 30 minutes to pick up my daughter from daycare, so I decided to take my chances and brave Bayview Ave. This road contains all of the qualities of a dangerous cycling path, with cars traveling at high speeds, roads with sharp curves, and no bike paths to be seen. I cycled as quickly as I could. My heart beat in my ears the entire time. I nearly cried once I reached the River St. Bridge where the closure ends.
As a proud commuter cyclist, I am biking across the city daily and always on the lookout for natural trails that keep me off the roads (anything to avoid guzzling up exhaust while biking past vehicles at rush hour). The Lower Don Trail is one of the most integral north-south cycling arteries in the city. However, The Lower Don is under construction and is set to be closed to improve the trail until “Fall 2016” , much to the dismay of many commuter cyclists.
The master plan is a positive development for cyclists — there is no doubt about that. Any infrastructure that is creating stronger trails is always a win in the cycling community. My problem with the Lower Don Trail construction is the lack of signage and alternative route options in the area. Being stranded south of Pottery Rd. before the Riverdale Park Bridge forces cyclists to backtrack several kilometres or brave the dangers of Bayview Ave., Rosedale Valley Rd., or Pottery Rd.
Where are the alternative route options? Why does the official cycling map on the City of Toronto website not indicate that the path is closed for new cyclists? Where are the signs on the path itself? Lastly, it is disappointing to see that the path will be completed in Fall 2016, just when cycling season is slowing down. Nothing like winter’s snow to put fresh cracks in the path for the following year before anyone can enjoy the path.
When a road closure happens on a major roadway, signs are placed and an alternative route is provided for the gas guzzlers. It is considered big news, and updates and press releases are provided daily. When a major arterial cycling route is closed, little to no signage is provided and no alternative route is given, potentially placing cyclists in danger.
Toronto is a city of cyclists. More and more people are opting to ride their bikes to work, whether it be for the environment, a faster commute time, or to get fit. The city is trying to catch up to the rising trend by pushing cycling paths and creating infrastructure, but keeping current paths safe is integral as well. I hope to see signs on the Lower Don going north from Cherry St. as well. No one deserves to have their lives put in danger on Bayview Ave., especially when they are doing the right thing by cycling in the first place.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!