When cycling around Leaside you quickly realize that while we are blessed with some quiet residential streets, there is a definite lack of connected cycling infrastructure designed for safe travel. Laird in Focus, the City of Toronto’s planning framework for Laird Dr. and the lands to the east and south of Eglinton Ave., north of Vanderhoof Ave. and west of Aerodome Cres., proposes to change that. The study, which will provide planning guidelines for new development in the area, has been in the works since 2016. After several community consultations and revisions, the proposal is expected to be presented to City Council for approval before the summer break. Along with the City’s 10-year Cycling Network Plan and EGLINTONconnects, Laird in Focus includes safer cycling options for travelling in, around, and through the Leaside neighbourhood.
Separated bike lanes on Laird. Boulevard trails on Vanderhoof.
Families and recreational riders will enjoy a dedicated trail to connect them with the West Don River Trail system. Commuters will find connected cycling infrastructure linking them with East York and North Toronto. Those who want to build cycling into their transportation mix will have more options and greater convenience. As the map illustrates, Laird in Focus calls for separated cycle tracks on Laird and a multi-use boulevard trail on Vanderhoof combined with a new traffic signal at the intersection of Vanderhoof and Laird for safe and convenient access.
More connections and greater safety
What’s so great about this plan? Better connections for cyclists. Toronto cyclists are well acquainted with the “bike lane to nowhere” – we have one on Moore Avenue, west of Bayview. The proposed cycle tracks on Laird will provide the connection between planned bike lanes on Millwood Rd. and the Leaside Bridge from the 10-year Cycling Network Plan, and proposed cycle tracks on Eglinton as part of EGLINTONconnects. For Leasiders, this means being able to use our residential streets to access bike lanes for travel north and south on Laird, over to Mount Pleasant and Yonge to Eglinton, and to Thorncliffe Park and East York via Vanderhoof and Millwood.
Another bonus of the plan is enhanced safety. The Laird in Focus planning framework calls for both cycle tracks and an off-road trail. Multiple studies have shown that people will incorporate cycling into their transportation plans when they feel safe.
Holly Reid is a recreational road rider and cycling commuter who has lived and worked in Leaside for 30 years. An advocate for safe cycling, she writes the Ask a Cyclist column for Cycle Toronto (cycleto.ca).
*Cycle tracks are bike lanes with a physical barrier between the cyclist and motorized vehicle track. In Toronto, you can find them on Sherbourne, Bloor, Queen’s Park, Adelaide, and Richmond. These lanes separate you from tracks in a variety of ways, including raised concrete curbs, planters, on-street parking and flexible posts. Boulevard trails are located on the boulevard, providing two-way travel on foot, bike, roller blades, skate-boards or scooters.