Months after a tragic accident at the intersection of Dundas Street West and Sterling Road, community members of Ward 18 are talking about ways to make the area safer. The fatal accident took the life of a 38-year-old cyclist and mother. It was a terrible way to remind the community of the urgent need for safer infrastructure in the area for cyclists. That corner especially is known for being a dangerous one, as trucks from Sterling Road frequently make right-hand turns on to Dundas, and are unable to leave room for bikers beside them without going into oncoming traffic.
Councillor Ana Bailão has been very active in attempting to put a safer foundation into place for the great number of cyclists her ward sees — either residents or commuters passing through. “Out of all of the cyclist infrastructure in the city, this is my priority, just because it’s not safe,” she says. “You speak to any cyclist in the west end and they’ll tell you this is the most horrible intersection to go through.”
Members of the City’s Transportation Services division, as well as Cycle Toronto and avid bikers from the community, attended a recent meeting where long and short term plans for the intersection were discussed. Councillor Bailão says she hopes to bring this up in the next community council meeting, so short term plans such as painting lines on the street for pedestrian crossings and putting in a traffic signal as well as a no right turn on a red light sign, can happen right away. “I consider this a matter of life or death and I don’t want to have another incident happening in this ward,” she says.
Ellen Rengers is an avid cyclist in the city, as well as a resident of Ward 18. She says the proposed plans will probably make her feel safer, though she’s still very much aware of the dangers involved in biking in the area. “It’s not an ideal situation, but it’s the only option we saw,” she says.
She is more excited about the long term developments, which will include a bi-directional bike bridge which will go along the road all the way from Dundas and Sterling to Dundas and College. They also include an off-street bicycle connection cutting through the City-owned land at the corner of Sterling and Dundas, as well as specified bike crossings beside pedestrian crossings at the intersection. “I think when we get good cycling infrastructure, more people will be on bicycles, less people in cars, so the people that are in cars will actually have more space,” Rengers says.
Recent input including the proposed plans will be looked over by Councillor Bailão, before she takes the everything to other council members. If all goes well, residents in her ward will soon start seeing some necessary changes.
Note: This article was first published in the August edition of the Bloordale Press.