Toronto road diet

Christie Street in Toronto is painted in different configurations. The southern section is a typical urban arterial, like Bronson: four lanes squeezed into a tight right of way, traffic jostling for position and obviously unattractive to adjacent businesses and residents.

The more northerly section has been repainted into a different configuration. There is a painted bike lane between the parking and the travelled road surface. The bike lane is tight up to cars, raising concerns about “the door prize”. Traffic flowed much more smoothly too, with no passing and less stress driving the street.

Above: north of Davenport,  Christie is painted with two traffic lanes, two bike lanes, two parking lanes. Evidence of prior painting schemes is visible as dark lines.

above: Christie Street south of Davenport, painted with two traffic lanes, two bike lanes, one parking lane. Prior paint lines faintly visible, looks like it was four traffic lanes, not dissimilar to Bronson today.

Above: Three lane configuration at an intersection. No bike lanes.

Above: a short portion of four traffic lanes, no parking nor bike lanes, although both resume just beyond the intersection.

Above: three lane configuration for car traffic, two bike lanes, no parking lanes.

Above: the prior line painting is again evident. A tight four lane configuration appears to have been replaced with two traffic lanes, two bike lanes, one parking lane.

Above: two mixed-traffic lanes, one side parking. No bike lanes.

All above pictures and streetviews are along Christie Street in Toronto, demonstrating a variety of lane painting options that varies every few blocks, presumably due to total right of way width, traffic volumes, etc. Bronson also has vastly different traffic volumes north of Somerset (14-20,000 vehicles/day) and south of Gladstone (20-30,000 /day).

As part of the Rescue Bronson movement, we have proposed to the City that they simply repaint the lines on Bronson as an experiment, a trial, to see if a road diet would work like they do in other cities. No major construction required. And since the road is about to be chopped up anyway, the repainting is just temporary. Bronson certainly won’t be four lanes during the construction period! Repainting lines is an easy, cheap means to try out a road diet — what’s to lose??

17 thoughts on “Toronto road diet

  1. As a cyclist, my concern with bike lanes on roads is always the same thing: I don’t trust drivers making right hand turns from my lane, or left hand turns across the bike lane.

    That’s not to say that we shouldn’t have bike lanes, but that the bike lane isn’t enough. We need traffic enforcement to remind drivers (and cyclists) to obey laws and road users must be respectful of each other.

    1. Julia: A coalition of community groups is teaming up with the councillor to launch a grassroots campaign on this. Look for news on this as early as this weekend.

  2. Has anyone suggested that since the number of cyclists declines to almost zero in the Winter, if the bike lanes could be used for snow banks it is removed?…

  3. The city of Ottawa has just changed the road markings on Sherwood Drive into a similar configuration.

  4. I love bike lanes, but bike lanes between parked cars and traffic is a terrible idea. Why not move the bike lane to the other side of the parked cars??

  5. This campaign is a great idea. You should be reaching out to the entire area.

    Just make sure not to forget to include the stretch of Bronson south of the Queensway. Despite being somewhat busier, with all of the buses stopping and left turns blocking lanes in any event, I have little doubt that it would benefit from this treatment as well. As it stands now, the street is a virtual no-go zone for pedestrians.

  6. That’s my old Toronto neighbourhood in your pictures. I used to live on Christie Street just south of Davenport in an apartment in one of those semi-detached duplexes seen in your 3rd picture (about 10 years ago). I think the whole street had 4 lanes in those days. But as far as traffic volume is concerned, it was nothing compared with Bronson – definitely lower volume than the worst (i.e. Glebe) part of Bronson at least – and at least there were trees and front yards and the sidewalks were more walkable. I would never want to live on Bronson, but Christie wasn’t bad even during rush hour.

    1. christie has about 15,000 vehicles per day, about the same as Preston. Bronson north of Somerset has 18,000 or so; but by the Qway it is 30,000 and we are not proposing a three lane option for there. I used christie to illustrate re-striping the street, a road diet, but every street has its own unique needs that should be accomodated.
      thanks for reading,
      Eric

  7. I also lived just off of Christie for about 4 years, and I wonder about those traffic figures that you are providing. Christie certainly doesn’t seem to have a comparable volume of traffic. It doesn’t function as a true arterial. as it essentially t’s at Bloor St. (though the road does continue as a one-lane residential street to the south). It also ends at St. Clair to the north. It is much shorter and much more of a neighbourhood street than is Bronson. Well the overall point is well-taken, I just don’t think that Christie is a very good point of comparison.

    1. Traffic count numbers re Christie are from the city of toronto; the ones for Bronson are from city of Ottawa.
      The main point for using Christie was to show that they simply repainted the lanes, a cheap way to try out a road diet, easily reversable if it doesn’t work.
      I would love to find a road that was urban, had exactly the same traffic volumes as Bronson, our exact same rush hour characteristics, same snowfall, etc etc but I have no way to find out even which roads have dieted … no one is tracking that info. I lack the resources of the city with its contacts with other cities, or road building associations, or multi-office engineering consultants who should be able to find out this stuff via a simple email to their toronto or other big city offices … so I have to take what I can find. I came across Christie, I used it as an illustration, not as a perfect comparator.
      Much of the literature I can find through google is from the USA, some from Europe. To bring it up as an exemplar for here is to invite instant dismissal as “their city is different from ours” due to snow, size of cars, economic base, or whatever.
      The examples are just to show that other cities do something; ottawa thus far is very much captive to the traffic engineer mentality that feels obliged to cope with whatever cars present themselves, and is closed to innovation.
      thanks for reading and commenting!
      Eric Darwin

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