How to Improve the Yonge St Climb
If you cycle through Ward 22 you probably already know the challenge of climbing the escarpment at the south end of our ward. Our member Ken Brown has put together a report looking at improving the Yonge St climb at Summerhill, either by building a dedicated climbing lane at the steepest section of Yonge between Woodlawn and Jackes Ave, or by properly maintaining the sheltered off-street climb up to the Rosehill Reservoir.
The geography of Ward 22 presents a barrier to cyclists, particularly the Canadian Pacific rail line at the ward's southern border. Avenue Road and Mt Pleasant Rd are steep climbs, with high traffic volumes and cars passing by at high speeds. The nearest designated cycling routes up Poplar Plains Road to the west of Avenue and through Rosedale and Moore Park to the east of Mount Pleasant. These routes are a fair distance away from Yonge St and, in the case of the Moore Park route, do not receive adequate winter maintenance.
Yonge St is the most direct route to downtown. Riding downhill (southbound) on Yonge is not a problem because cyclists travel as quickly as motor vehicles, but climbing Yonge is a different matter.
Yonge is not bike-friendly as the lanes are narrow. However, the steepest part of the climb, between Woodlawn Ave and Jackes Ave, has a very wide sidewalk. To improve the safety of cyclists climbing slowly up this section we recommend installing a bike lane on the wide eastern sidewalk between Woodlawn and Jackes.
This approach is used in other cities, such as Vancouver. Here in Toronto we have a similar shared space on Roncesvalles Ave, with the new recently-installed streetcar bumpouts.
Fortunately we have an alternative most of the year. The Rosehill Reservoir has paths that allow cyclists and pedestrians to safely travel between Summerhill Avenue and Rosehill Avenue. Residential streets extend this route safely to St. Clair in the north and Shaftesbury in the south. Unfortunately the paths in Rosehill Reservoir are not cleared of ice and snow in winter. Providing adequate winter maintenance, as well as clear signage to the route, would provide a safe climb into Ward 22 away from the high traffic on Yonge St.
There is precedent for winter maintenance of park trails. The Martin Goodman trail along Toronto's waterfront receives winter maintenance from the City's transportation department, making it a year-round cycling corridor. It would cost very little for the winter sidewalk plows that already maintain the sidewalks next to the Rosehill Reservoir to also plow the interior park trail.