Sherbourne cycle tracks completed, go try them

The first cycle track in Toronto is now complete! After all the politics and foot-dragging, Toronto is now in the club with the likes of New York City, Chicago, Montreal and Vancouver.

Christina Bouchard created a quick video and the City of Toronto released a press release (thanks David Juliusson):

The City of Toronto has completed construction of its first cycle track - a lane for bicycles that is separated from motorized vehicle traffic. The new lane is located on Sherbourne Street between Bloor Street and King Street.

Over the next few years, Toronto is creating a 14-kilometre network of cycle tracks in the downtown area.

The Sherbourne cycle track has new features that distinguish it from the City's painted bicycle lanes:
• Buses don't stop in the cycle track. It is raised to sidewalk level at bus stops to provide accessible passenger loading. Cyclists are required to stop for passengers getting on or off buses.
• Bike boxes have been provided to assist cyclists making left turns when connecting with east-west bicycle lanes on Shuter Street, Gerrard Street and Wellesley Street.
• Parking next to the bicycle lane has been removed and parking lay-bys have been provided at six key locations to facilitate pickup/dropoff activity and commercial deliveries

Toronto City Council has adopted a Cycle Track Bylaw setting out the rules of operation for cycle tracks. The bylaw provides for a $150 fine for drivers who stop or park their vehicle on a cycle track.

The only exemptions to the bylaw are the following three:
• emergency services or police vehicles actively responding to an emergency
• Hydro and utility vehicles in the lawful performance of their duties
• Wheel Trans vehicles actively loading or unloading passengers

Toronto Transportation staff are working with the Toronto Police Service and Parking Enforcement staff to ticket and tow vehicles that are illegally blocking the cycle track.

Frequently asked questions and other information about cycle tracks are available at

Toronto is Canada's largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.7 million people. Toronto's government is dedicated to delivering customer service excellence, creating a transparent and accountable government, reducing the size and cost of government and building a transportation city. For information on non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can dial 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Tried Sherbourne bike track yeterday going north and south. Eight parked vehicles blocked the track going north and about six were blocking southbound. A good number of pedestrians were also using it as a sidewalk. I ended up riding on the road for much of the way so i wasn't very impressed. If collisions with pedestrians increases on this road i would not be surprised.

I thought it was great. Much safer than Jarvis Street - and nicer too.

Maybe Sherbourne is where the "10 minute grace period" is used, where there is no meters of course.

The number of vehicles you observed parked inside the bicycle lanes is unchanged from what it was before they separated the lanes except now everyone is going to notice the illegal parking because the lanes are supposed to be separated.
I still think the lanes are, and will prove to be, a big improvement on what we had before.
The fine for blocking an unseparated lane is $60 for blocking a cycle track $150.
The increased fine may not be in place until the spring but it will make a difference even with a minor level of enforcement.
Taxis are not allowed to park or stop in cycle tracks they were allowed to legally stop in unseparated lanes.
In addition the elevated section of the Cycle Track is at the same level as the sidewalk so what cars are now doing is parking on both the sidewalk and the bicycle lane.
This will result in more rigorous enforcement as illegal parking in sidewalks gets more attention.
As to pedestrians in the cycle track they are there because it is safer for pedestrians than it was before the separated lanes were installed.
This may mean the cycle tracks are working to reduce remove car traffic in the lanes.
Pedestrians in Toronto are not used to the idea of exclusive bicycle lanes just like motorists didnt understand the Spadina LRT when it was first installed.
In Holland pedestrians walking in cycle tracks get charged by the police.
this will eventually happen here but not until we have a critical mass of cycle tracks that is 2 years off.
There is not enough separation because emergency services determined the design of the separation to make sure it would be easy for the police and EMS to park/stop in the bicycle lane. EMS doesnt want separation so we dont have it. In Europe cyclist safety gets more attention but that will come.
The Sherbourne cycle tracks may not work without bollards but this will prove it one way or another.
The good news is people are noticing the bicycle lane blockages when it was largely unremarked before. This will lead to change eventually if regular folks who are not cyclists start trying to bicycle in the the lanes and find out it is still not safe because of police cars, EMS and illegally parked vehicles.
We can work to get better separation on the Wellesley Harbord and Richmond Adelaide
cycle tracks with the clear evidence these lanes are going to provide. I still think the Sherbourne cycle tracks if they receive snow removal as promised and if there is enforcement are going to be light years ahead of anything the city has ever seen for on road cycling infrastructure
We had to start somewhere in Toronto and in spite of the obvious flaws this is a start and it is long past due
The ultimate irony is we had to wait for the most avowedly pro car administration at city hall in many years to see it done.
Separated Harbord Wellesley and Richmond Adelaide cycle tracks are not going to happen until 2014 but amazingly the Ford administration is in full support and moving ahead with it.
This is the start of a better city for cycling we just have to keep pushing.

Separatist. I hear you and agree. Just sharing my first impressions.

As for he politics, appearances can be deceiving. Our previous "bike friendly" Mayor was anything but good for cyclists.

Anybody been over there since the snow? Is it still navigable?

@larrylarry sent out a photo on Twitter with the lanes plowed as of yesterday:

Every year we go through this issue. Are the snowplows clearing the bike lanes. If they aren't, call 311.
The snowplow operators are paid to clear the entire street. My experience has been they don't at first but once complaints are made to 311 and the councillor they start clearing them. Next is getting them cleared properly. Parts of the lane are cleared, the rest not. It takes work, but eventually they do it right.

To be fair I was on the Lakeshore bike lane yesterday and it was cleared. Maybe the message is getting through.

There is plenty of room for improvement when it comes to vehicles parked in bike lanes.

I would be happily surprised if even one such ticket had been issued on Sherbourne; surprised being the operative word.

I road Sherbourne southbound from Bloor to Richmond on the 28th.

The good news, It was plowed (as mentioned above), and there was a ton of salt down.

The bad news, in every single place where cars enter a driveway, or where they had parked over the lane previously, there were big snow ruts covering the lane. Also, in one long stretch the snow bank left by the plow collapsed under its own weight and refilled the lane.

I passed two other cyclists on the way south. In each case I called out to indicate I was coming up, slowed down until I was noticed, and proceeded by in a clear spot while warning them that I was overtaking. Nonetheless both riders were completely freaked out, both felt they needed to slow down further as I passed. Neither had the confidence to pull right a little, which would have made the process much less dramatic for all involved. Except for the fact that they were uncomfortable being passed, both men seemed to be experienced cyclists.

Another thought:
We know that the city has or has not a list of priority bike "arteries" - and if there is one, we'll never see what it is. But to make decisions and support actions in a world of limited resources, we must have such a list. The "plowing of bike paths" issue is an example: which paths should we put high on the priority list when we approach our councillor or other decision makers?

Let me ask the Bike Union which I am a member of (or CT, if you like): do we have our own bike map with the infrastructure prioritized?

the No Frills store, up on Sherbourne still attracts off-duty fire vehicles parking ON the cycle track while2 firemen are inside shopping for the days groceries to make their evening meal . No one seems to want to "rock the boat
by ticketing them. Its like they are above the law/ Even when they half park on the sidewalk and still block the track! When you complain to 311 they say they are probly there on an emergency. Now buying groceries is considered an emergency in Toronto!