Walking and Biking in Scarborough

February 2019 / Scarborough, Ontario, Canada

Walking and Biking in Scarborough

By Sarah Bradley / Cycle Toronto

We’re well into the new term of council, and things aren’t looking good for people walking and biking in Scarborough. More than two years into the City’s 10 Year Cycling Network Plan, we’ve witnessed just over 30km out of the promised 525km of bike lanes built – and no new infrastructure in Scarborough. What makes this more stark is that in 2018, more than 40 per cent of pedestrian and cyclist deaths happened in Scarborough’s neighbourhoods. What will it take get much-needed infrastructure in place to accommodate those already riding, and to encourage people who want to ride, but lack confidence or resources?

The City has a Vision Zero Plan in place – but so far it’s being implemented on a case-by-case basis, which hasn’t led to any reductions in the number of people killed or seriously injured on our streets.

Looking to 2019 and beyond, we need city-wide changes. We need to reduce speed limits to 40km/h on arterials and 30km/h on residential streets. We need to make streets safer for people walking, wheeling, and taking transit by reducing crossing distances and adding more crosswalks. We need to build protected bike lanes on main streets so that people biking have their own space, instead of being forced to ride alongside motor vehicle traffic travelling at high speeds.

There’s a nascent cycling culture in Scarborough. Community organizations like Access Alliance through their Scarborough Cycles project have been steadily building cycling culture through programming at their four hubs, from youth Earn-a-bike programs to DIY repair nights to relaxed group rides. But they desperately need infrastructure to increase ridership.

Join Cycle Toronto for their annual Coldest Day of the Year Ride on Saturday, February 2. Meet at 11:30AM at Alexander the Great Parkette (Danforth Ave. and Logan Ave.) Speeches and departure at 11:45AM.

One project which would have helped catalyze change in Scarborough was the Port Union Road widening. Despite being already delayed for fifteen years, it’s now pushed back again to 2019 per this article back in August.

A recent Toronto Star article noted that a disproportionate number of vulnerable road user deaths in 2018 happened in Scarborough. With high volumes of traffic and high speeds on arterials like Bellamy Rd. (where two people were struck and killed last year), Birchmount Rd., and Pharmacy Ave. in southwest Scarborough (where bike lanes were installed, and then removed in 2011 during the Rob Ford years), we simply won’t move the needle on getting more people to ride without a bold investment in physically separated bike lanes away from motor vehicle traffic.

Scarborough is a prime example of what we call latent demand for cycling. Building protected bike lanes on key connector roads like Brimley Road and Kingston Road is crucial to city-wide efforts to get a true cycling network in place. We have bold goals: the Cycling Network Plan, approved in June 2016, set out to build 525 kilometres of cycling infrastructure by 2026. There are big opportunities in Scarborough. But we need to start building.