Every few months, I see an article pop up about another city creating or planning for a “bicycle super highway” where cyclists can zoom along unimpeded in a wide separated path with the same comfort that we provide to drivers. There’s one in Copenhagen that stretches 22km to connect areas outside the city core and then there’s the planned 29km bike super highway in London, England.
Do we have any in Toronto?
I suppose some of the paths through the ravines—like the Lower Don Trail, which stretches from the lakeshore all the way up to roughly Eglinton, is a kind of superhighway–however, these pathways are really billed as recreational trails rather than commuter trails. There is little access into and out of them to surrounding roads.
But then there’s Route 22. I discovered Route 22 while searching on Google Maps for parks to visit in Ward 4. That’s when I saw the little grey squiggle running underneath Eglinton Avenue from Scarlett Road to Highway 427.
Route 22, I learned, is an entirely separated cycling pathway that runs parallel just south of Eglinton for a total of about 5km. The irony is that the reason there was room to put in Route 22 during this section of Eglinton is that the roadway was widened in anticipation of the Richview Expressway—an expressway that was cancelled in the 1960s.
So we did get an expressway, it’s just one for cyclists. It’s also prettier than a regular expressway.
Below is an example of what it looks like when Route 22 crosses a major street. There is a red strip that indicates the trail connection across the roadway.
But the best part about Route 22 is that it actually seems to go somewhere. We have some great trails in Toronto, but they’re often severed, ending at the edge of a park. Lines on a map doesn’t make a cycling network. It’s the connections between those lines that matter.
On Route 22, you can ride west where the trail seamlessly links (see title image) with the West Dean Parklands, which has Mimico Creek running down its centre. From there you can ride another 4km south where the trail ends near Burnhamthorpe and Kipling. On the east side, Route 22 links in with the Humber River trails which take you up to Steeles or south to the Martin Goodman Trail, which you can take both west to Mimico or east to the Beach. This starts to look like–gasp!–a trail network.
OK, so Route 22 is not going to find itself included on any top ten list of bicycle super highways (or probably even 20), but it’s perhaps one of the closest things we’ve got in Toronto.
This post is part of the City within a Park project, where I’m exploring Toronto by visiting a park I haven’t been to yet in every one of the 44 wards in 2015. (Sorry for the ads, if you see them. WordPress, etc etc.)