Commuter bicyclists get to keep Trinity Bellwoods as thoroughfare

By Dennis Hanagan –

Commuter cyclists can continue to use bike paths in Trinity Bellwoods Park to get to and from their Downtown workplaces, but the city is going to use a few tricks to try to slow them down.

While the Friends of Trinity Bellwoods Park (FTBP) support recreational cycling in the park, speedy commuter bikers are less welcome. The group has gathered a 128-name petition urging they find an alternate route to work, preferably outside of the park.

FTBP has met in the past with cyclist representatives, city staff and Ward 19 Councillor Mike Layton to discuss the issue.

The park provides a section of the city-sanctioned West End Bikeway. “I guess it’s the most contentious section of the route because it’s going through a high pedestrian area,” says FTBP member Anna Hill.

To slow down cyclists, the city will use pressed concrete along some bike path sections to serve as rumble strips, and also signage telling cyclists they’re approaching a pedestrian crossing.

Also, the fence dividing the bike path and the children’s wading pool will be lengthened to prevent children darting onto the bike path.

“Close calls happen all the time with little kids running in front of bikes,” she says. FTBP has suggested using decomposed granite on the paths. “It would really slow people down. You couldn’t go fast on that kind of a path,” says Hill.

FTBP member Michaelle McClean says some cyclists aren’t considerate of pedestrians. “There are some that ring their bell and terrify pedestrians. They’re saying it’s my road as opposed to slowing down.”

She’d like to see commuter cyclists use nearby roads and laneways to circumvent the park. “Given an alternative (route) commuter cyclists will use it,” she believes.

But Ward 19 Councillor Mike Layton isn’t so sure.

“I understand from the community’s perspective … there’s a danger there when we have cyclists and pedestrians,” says Layton.

“The problem is we’re never going to be able to stop cyclists from going through the park. It’s the most direct route (from Dundas to Queen). The question is how do we make it safer,” says Layton.

Creating a southbound bike lane on Crawford St.—which hugs the park’s west end—wouldn’t work because Crawford is a northbound street, and just as cars must obey one-way streets under the Highway Traffic Act so must bikes, Layton points out.

A spokesperson from the Toronto Cyclists Union was unavailable for comment by deadline.

McClean thinks the city and cyclists aren’t keeping up with the times.

From just five years ago she’s seen “an explosion” in the number of pedestrians using the park, probably due to recent nearby condo development, so she further questions why fast-traveling bikes should be in the park.

“I think the bike union and the city’s thoughts are outdated. They’re ignoring the complete sea change in the number of users. The union and the city should acknowledge that,” she says.

Hill has another question she wants discussed. “I think the overall question of whether or not commuter cyclists should be routed through public parks hasn’t really been addressed.”

In the end she seems to think the battle against the West End Bikeway barreling through Trinity Bellwoods Park was futile. “The cycling union really wanted the bike path to go through the park, and I feel like the city does, too,” says Hill.