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The 10 worst intersections for cyclists in Toronto

Posted by Chris Bateman / August 27, 2013

toronto bike accidentThe worst intersections for cyclists in Toronto might surprise you. Ever since Adrian Verster's girlfriend was injured in a cycling accident, the PhD Biology student and data head has been crunching more than 25 years of GPS tagged statistics from the Toronto Traffic Safety Unit on injuries involving bicycles in the hope of finding the safest route around the city.

The fruit of his labour, published online this week, is a list of the worst intersections for cyclists based on the number of reported accidents, falls, collisions, tires pinched by streetcar tracks - anything that's brought a ride to a sudden and painful end.

"I spend a huge amount of time crunching data, plotting stuff, et cetera," Verster says. "We live in a world where there's so much data readily available and you can do so much stuff with it."

The raw data appears to show an even scattering of scraped knees, skinned elbows, and, in some tragic cases, loss of life. Verster's treatment shifted each accident to the nearest major intersection in an attempt to make some sense of the carnage.

The number one blackspot since 1986? Lake Shore Boulevard East and Carlaw Avenue.

This intersection is unusual because there appears to be a good safety infrastructure in place. The fully separated Martin Goodman Trail is controlled by dedicated traffic lights and a set of seldom used rail tracks is buried beneath rubber covers.

"Bloor and Queen Street are really high up the list and that I found not surprising because they are two major bike commute routes that don't have bike lanes. The kinked intersections I did find more surprising, I wasn't expecting to get that back."

Verster is referring to several non-standard intersections that feature jogs or unusual bends in his complete top twenty-four: namely Queen and River, Avenue and Lonsdale, Bloor and Parliament, Bloor and Castle Frank, Broadview and Gerrard. Streetcar tracks, a perennial threat to cyclists, feature sporadically in Verster's list.

THE COMPLETE TOP 10

1) Lake Shore Blvd. E and Carlaw Ave.
2) Queen St. W and Niagara St.
3) Queen St. E and River St.
4) Bathurst St. and Davenport Rd.
5) Avenue Rd. and Lonsdale Rd.
6) Bloor St. W and Brock Ave.
7) Bloor St. W and St. Thomas St.
8) Lake Shore Blvd. W and Jameson Ave.
9) Bloor St. E. and Castle Frank Rd.
10) Bloor St. E and Parliament St.

Are you surprised by the top ten? Which intersections did you expect to make the list?

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Image: Sebastian Ip/blogTO Flickr pool.

Discussion

74 Comments

Ben / August 27, 2013 at 11:43 am
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Plenty of Bloor on the list. Maybe those kooky, lefty cyclists fighting for their own lane on Bloor were onto something...
Mike / August 27, 2013 at 11:46 am
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I never cycle on Bloor so many ways to avoid it.
Chris / August 27, 2013 at 11:50 am
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My bike vs car accident was at Bloor and Madison
Alex / August 27, 2013 at 11:50 am
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I agree. Never cycle on Bloor.
PhNerd / August 27, 2013 at 11:55 am
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I have not (knock on wood) had any troubles biking on Bloor. Church between Queen and Front is bad. Biking up Yonge between King and College mid-day is pretty good, surprisingly. The Lakeshore detour is a disaster - so scary!!
chris / August 27, 2013 at 11:59 am
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A map would be very helpful here.
allisonjayne / August 27, 2013 at 12:08 pm
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Well if that isn't a strong argument for bike lanes on bloor.....

Unsurprisingly, some of these are intersections where roads meet at strange angles.

andrew / August 27, 2013 at 12:09 pm
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Lakeshore and carlaw are bad because of the drivers that go through the intersection after the lights change. There are communters that also jump the lights. Its a bad balance, I am not sure who designed this but there must be better flow. Its now compounded by Freshco and lowblaws getting access across the trail during the TTC barns construction. I will be interested to see them close it bak up after or else add two more bad intersections.
L replying to a comment from andrew / August 27, 2013 at 12:32 pm
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I totally agree with you Andrew! I live right beside Lakeshore and Leslie and people are so reckless down that stretch of path including cyclists whipping past eachother without warning... and Its going to get much worse once those entrances open up. Families riding down the trail with your kids, watch out!
allisa / August 27, 2013 at 12:39 pm
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uh... Dundas & Landsdowne ?
Jer / August 27, 2013 at 12:55 pm
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I would like to see more reporting of bike on bike accidents and bike on pedestrian accidents. I saw a guy run a red light in front of Rosedale station last week and smash into another cyclist (and older lady) after trying to yell at HER to stop (even though he was going through a red). He came back to check if she was okay but a friend of mine wasn't so lucky after a lady hit her going the wrong way on a one way street and didn't stop or come back even after people tried to chase after her.
jer / August 27, 2013 at 12:58 pm
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Lake Shore Blvd. W and Jameson Ave

Where the area is for cyclists to go across I see so many times that cyclists are crossing even when the light has turned green for cars. I was at the front of a line of cars and almost ran into one lady who came zooming across.
Gee / August 27, 2013 at 01:10 pm
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Just like most people die in the hospital, does that mean hospitals are killing people?
Isn't this list just places that a lot of people ride bicycles? If nobody rides there, no accidents right? I don't see how this is statistically valid without controlling for the number of trips taken by bike through these locations - which is data that nobody has.
reba replying to a comment from allisa / August 27, 2013 at 01:19 pm
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Yes! I had a spill there right where Dundas and College divide. Every cyclist I've talked to has a story about that intersection and that tangle of streetcar tracks.
matts replying to a comment from Gee / August 27, 2013 at 01:25 pm
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If you bothered to follow the link you'd have seen his explanation of how he did it. So, click, read on, comment later when informed.
hamish wilson / August 27, 2013 at 01:32 pm
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Yes, Bloor is up there for crashes, and killings too, with stats done by the City for about 30 years too, but with scant actions, though in only 1992 a study for the old City of Toronto deemed it the best for an east-west bike lane!
There is a bit of hope though, despite Fordkers having killed an EA study two summers ago: a resurrection of the study may occur in September; call councillors and petition at cycle toronto.
More seriously, with the reconstruction beginning, there needs to be some safety improvements especially west of Ossington.
Bloor bike lanes could help the subway too; people would ride their bike if it were safe/straight/smooth, and no streetcar tracks either, which aren't vehicles, and so it's another huge uncharted set of harms that the City is trying to avoid as it's yet another set of liabilities.
Rob replying to a comment from matts / August 27, 2013 at 02:00 pm
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You lack an understanding of statistics. Gee has a very valid point.

This data shows, from an absolute sense, which intersections have the most number of collisions, but it doesn't normalize the data to take into account bike traffic at large. Example: if there was only one road on which bikes could ride, you'd see that 100% of bike accidents happen on that road, but that doesn't mean that that road is treacherous for bikers.

I bet that the intersection of, I don't know, Highway 7 and Keele is more dangerous to bikers, but people don't ride bikes up there as much meaning that it won't be registered in this data.
E. Toby Coke replying to a comment from matts / August 27, 2013 at 02:05 pm
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"If you bothered to follow the link you'd have seen his explanation of how he did it. So, click, read on, comment later when informed."

Wow, you sure told him! Or did you?

I read it. This jumped out at me: "There is little data available on bicyclist demographics or volume, making it hard to draw conclusions about the most dangerous intersection or most at-risk bicyclist."




E. Toby Coke replying to a comment from E. Toby Coke / August 27, 2013 at 02:06 pm
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aaaaand now I realize I clicked the wrong link.

Never mind.
Ryder Driver / August 27, 2013 at 02:09 pm
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There are many alternatives to these intersections. I would never ride most of the ones listed here for sheer danger factor. The city put up a sign this spring at the Dundas/Lansdowne/College intersection telling cyclists to use the corner light, to make the exact same turn, in a safe manner. Yet the cyclists ignore it, or probably can't even see it. They still tempt fate by trying to cross at the crazy junction. I drive and ride this entire city daily and came to the realization that not every road in this city is cycle friendly. When cyclists realize this and make alternate routes, there could be less incidents. And to all the idiot cyclists that bolt through red lights, why is it that I can stop when I am riding and yet still catch you at the next one and blow past you? Learn some road etiquette. Share the road is the main message to everyone, cars and bikes!!!
Steven / August 27, 2013 at 02:16 pm
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Cyclists, avoid the top 10 intersections and ride on side roads instead.
Adrock / August 27, 2013 at 02:19 pm
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Dundas & Landsdowne should be #1 on the list.
tnt / August 27, 2013 at 02:39 pm
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It's not an intersection, but i think one of the most potentially dangerous and ridiculous bike lanes is the shared downhill lane on pottery road that travels down towards Bayview..
Lee Zamparo replying to a comment from Rob / August 27, 2013 at 03:00 pm
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He used car traffic as a proxy for bike traffic. Seems sensible enough for downtown traffic, though it wouldn't be so for your example of Keele & Hwy 7.

What would be really neat is a generative model of road configurations and cycling accidents, so that profiles of unsafe intersections would emerge. Keep up the good work Adrian!
Gee replying to a comment from matts / August 27, 2013 at 03:41 pm
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I read the link. He doesn't use the amount of bicycle traffic to normalize, he uses the car traffic, which I think is problematic, since bicycle mode share in the city varies considerably. It's an interesting project, but needs more data.
Nattha / August 27, 2013 at 03:43 pm
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No College Street? Bay street intersections at College and Bloor absolutely drive me nuts both to drive and bike.
Pikey / August 27, 2013 at 04:13 pm
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That Dupont/Annette/Dundas 3-way is a black hole of pain and misery for all moving objects.
Egads / August 27, 2013 at 04:23 pm
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You downtown hippies have clearly never rode out east. Pharmacy and Ellesmere is downright scary.
Ash replying to a comment from Mike / August 27, 2013 at 04:28 pm
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I work on Bloor. Go out of my way to avoid until I have no choice!
Andy / August 27, 2013 at 04:28 pm
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Let's put bike lanes on Bloor, giving cyclists more entitlement and let them run over pedestrians there too!
Sarah / August 27, 2013 at 04:36 pm
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Bloor and Bellair (one street west of Bay). Horrible, horrible intersection. I normally don't have much trouble cycling across Bloor but every time I pass this intersection, someone almost always hits me turning onto the main street.
Matt / August 27, 2013 at 04:57 pm
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I bike along Bloor daily (to and from work) from Dundas West to Bay and never really have an issue. The road quality between Bathurst to Lansdowne really needs to be addressed though.
Matthew / August 27, 2013 at 05:04 pm
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It's careless cyclists and careless drivers that make intersections (and the road in general) dangerous. Cyclists passing cars on the right. Drivers not using their mirrors to make sure its clear while making turns. I see it daily. Saw a woman nearly run off the road yesterday by a driver switching lanes (right before an intersection) aggressively. Everyone needs to step up to make the roads safer.
François replying to a comment from Nattha / August 27, 2013 at 05:06 pm
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Maybe College doesn't feature on the list because there's a bike lane along most of it... Sure it ends at Bay or so, but by that time drivers are fully conscious of cyclists, having ridden along them for a while.
Elvis Precisely / August 27, 2013 at 05:08 pm
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Can I pls nominate Sterling Rd and Dundas West? Recently, due to all of the people driving(!) to their cross-fit appointments, I've (only) been hit there in my 6+ years of cycling in Toronto. Not to mention the pregnant woman who was killed a few years back by a truck going to the chocolate factory. Could definitely use a traffic light!
McRib replying to a comment from Steven / August 27, 2013 at 05:19 pm
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no
Lock / August 27, 2013 at 05:20 pm
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Coxwell at Lakeshore the "worst"? Betcha my daughter knew that when she moved me onto Coxwell... Hehe...
Lock / August 27, 2013 at 05:22 pm
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Coxwell and Lakeshore? Bet my daughter knew that, when she moved me on to Coxwell recently... Hehe...
Lock H. / August 27, 2013 at 05:22 pm
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Coxwell and Lakeshore? Bet my daughter knew that, when she moved me on to Coxwell recently... Hehe...
Holy Thundering Jesus / August 27, 2013 at 06:43 pm
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This city is not pedestrian or bike friendly, it's all about the life sucking, gas guzzling, poison spewing car! Thanks Ford Crack Nation!
steve replying to a comment from Andy / August 27, 2013 at 06:54 pm
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What entitlement do cyclists have?
lol / August 27, 2013 at 07:57 pm
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Toronto is a disgusting cess pool, go to any other real city and pedestrians and cyclist are not treated like crap, this city is coming apart apon itself due to hatered of the fellow citizen
MARC replying to a comment from lol / August 27, 2013 at 08:36 pm
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It's because everyone thinks they're the exception to the rules, but get mighty pissy when other people break the rules. Canadians are so fucking indignant.
Vid Ingelevics / August 27, 2013 at 08:54 pm
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Where Bay St. meets Dupont north of Bloor is not particularly safe, either. Drivers turning right from Bay onto Dupont seem incapable of seeing cyclists who are continuing west on Dupont. Several close calls here.
the truth replying to a comment from steve / August 27, 2013 at 09:11 pm
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I'm sorry to say that many bikers in this city certainly have an entitled attitude. I can't count the number of times I've seen cyclists who ride on sidewalks and run red lights nearly hit people, including elderly individuals, children, and parents with strollers, and then throw a fit and act like obnoxious childish jerks when people tell them to ride on the road as they should. They're the same people who complain the loudest about how bikes aren't treated as vehicles, while wanting to maintain pedestrian privileges as well. It's a shame because there are bikers in this town who respect roads and sidewalks, but the innumerable jerks in this city make them look bad.

It's dangerous for cyclists in this city, but pedestrians are in danger from them as well.
Clint Griffin / August 27, 2013 at 09:17 pm
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Dundas St where College street Joins . Sure cant wait till they continue the Rail Path going South.
Henry / August 27, 2013 at 09:51 pm
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Other Intersections that are hell for anything going through them:

The Trifecta of Potholes and Traffic: Yonge / Bay / Davenport
The Traffic Merge of Death: Dundas West / Sterling / College /Bay
The Triangle of Certain Doom: Dupont and Annette
Killer's Crossing: Keele and St. Clair
Abandon All Hope: Dupont and Dufferin

Toronto has a lot of shitty intersections, with bad road conditions, and infrastructure that hasn't been updated since the 70s. Maybe its time to pour that transportation money into some re-designs.

Or at the very least, re-pave stuff and get rid of right turns on reds.

God speed, Toronto.


LA replying to a comment from Adrock / August 27, 2013 at 10:34 pm
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Yeah I live right by there and though I don't cycle, have stood at that streetcar stop many-a-time, and watched in horror as yet another cyclist got his/her bike wheels caught in the mess of streetcar tracks there, in that horribly dangerous curve where Dundas and College meet. So scary!!!
Jeromy replying to a comment from Ben / August 27, 2013 at 10:37 pm
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FUDGE THAT!!! Bloor is basically a straight road, if you can't handle riding a bike across Bloor you shouldn't be riding a bike in the city. Whats wrong with Bloor and Brock? A three way stop with stop lights. What's so challenging?
Michael replying to a comment from MARC / August 27, 2013 at 10:49 pm
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Cyclists the world over feel the same way, not just in Canada (or Toronto). Just because you're only traveling at 10 - 15km/h doesn't mean you can ignore stop signs, red lights or crosswalks. The sense of entitlement that cyclists have really is disgusting, follow the rules of the road and many of these 'accidents' don't happen.
Jessica / August 27, 2013 at 11:06 pm
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How many of you who ride in T.O. wear a helmet? How many of you obey all traffic signs and signals? Two suggestions to keep you safer.
Kelly replying to a comment from Jessica / August 27, 2013 at 11:56 pm
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I wear a helmet, and obey all traffic signs and lights. I also use arm signals before making turns, and my bike has lights and reflectors. Believe it or not, more cyclists are like me than not (I know how much people who are anti-bike like to demonize cyclists and say that we are entitled law-breakers!).

Despite all of this, I still have to be extra vigilant there are always going to be pedestrians and motorists who seem to be unaware of anything other than themselves. Toss in the folks using their phones whilst driving or walking, and it gets even hard to stay safe!
lol / August 28, 2013 at 12:13 am
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its kind of hard to follow the rules of the road when you are risking serious injury or death every time you take to the road
Bill replying to a comment from Jeromy / August 28, 2013 at 12:14 am
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Well. I'm guessing the issue happens where Brock ends at Bloor. To continue going north you have to do an awkward left turn, or bump up on a sidewalk and cut across. So you either get whacked making the turn, hit from another turning vehicle, or T-Boned.

But that's just a guess. Seeing as I live around the corner.
Kim replying to a comment from Jessica / August 28, 2013 at 01:09 am
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I always wear a helmut and obey traffic laws, most cyclists do but unfortunately that can only minimize an injury not prevent one. The main reason that cyclists get hit is an attitude problem by motorists a lot of them taxis. There's frustration from motorists about traffic and many motorists wrongly blame bike lanes and cyclists for slowing them down. In fact all those people on bikes are not driving cars thus reducing traffic. I really think that it should be a requirement when you get a drivers license in Toronto that you have some experience riding a bike in the city. Drivers really need to understand that more cyclists are actually the solution to gridlock.
Jenny replying to a comment from Jessica / August 28, 2013 at 02:26 am
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Odd, this article has nothing to do with either of those two things. This article is about badly designed intersections.

So how about derailing somewhere else? Sound good? Alright then.
Giles / August 28, 2013 at 08:17 am
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I recommend following the link in the fist paragraph of the article, you'll see that this gentleman did as thorough an analysis as possible, compensating nicely for many potential biases brought up in the comments.
Vlad / August 28, 2013 at 10:14 am
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I think a good start would be to ban all on-street parking on major streets. That should relieve some tension
Anthony replying to a comment from Gee / August 28, 2013 at 11:38 am
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I agree with you Andrew. That intersection is terrible. I think there is a false sense of safety because it is on a bike path as well. Those driveways into Loblaws and Freshco make no sense what so ever. That is asking for trouble. My guess is the long term plan is to remove the north bike lane. I take that route home everyday, and that whole north path is terrible right now. Open construction, dubious intersection markings by the Don River. It is a disaster waiting to happen.
Anthony replying to a comment from Andy / August 28, 2013 at 11:41 am
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Thanks for the input Andy. We were wondering what the meathead contingent were thinking about all this.
Hell Yeah / August 28, 2013 at 01:52 pm
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The Dundas/College/Lansdowne gong show is made exceptionally worse by the horrible pavement quality on Lansdowne in that zone. Try taking one hand off your handlebars to signal a turn, all the while avoiding a TTC vehicle, numerous potholes, and a minivan frantic to get to No Frills. No fun!

A close second for pavement disasters that force cyclists to stray from their straight-line-at-the-side-of-the-lane is Keele at the underpass between Dundas W and Junction Rd. On this stretch there's also the fun of truck traffic from the stockyards.
Steve / August 28, 2013 at 10:03 pm
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Never cycle Bloor is dumb. It's the safest when snow hits because it is cleared first.
Sophie / August 29, 2013 at 12:10 am
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Jenna Morrison's fatal collision with a truck at Dundas and Sterling Road in Nov 2011 is not recorded.

The source document is a Globe and Mail article published in February 2012. It only covers the city from 1986 to 2010.

Three years hence. Is safety improved anywhere?
Jef / August 29, 2013 at 12:31 am
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The only reason there can be a dangerous situation between a car and a bike in the top 5 intersections is if either the driver or the cyclist do not obey the traffic regulations. These are some of the easiest intersections in the city, for gods sake! Lakeshore/Carlaw also has separate lights for bikes if I remember well. Regarding Avenue/Lonesdale - honestly???? There is hardly any traffic coming from Lonesdale!!

Mind you, I am a cyclist and a driver too. I honestly think that there should be licensing for cyclists too. The majority of the cyclists on the street have two major problems - 1) all way stops (most of the cyclists have no idea what this is) and 2) passing a vehicle on the right - read the Traffic act, please!!!!!!!!!!!

I am absolutely convinced most cyclists have a sense of entitlement and for whatever reasons if there is an incident between a driver a cyclist, it is automatically assumed that it is the driver's fault. Again - read the Traffic act before getting on the bike!!
the lemur replying to a comment from Jef / August 29, 2013 at 09:46 am
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Any intersection can be tricky if traffic is fast and/or there is some feature that is poorly designed (requiring vehicles to change lanes in a short stretch of road in order to make a turn, misaligned streets, sightlines, etc.).

Since the collision locations are assigned to the nearest intersection, I think the Avenue/Lonsdale mention might also include Lonsdale/Oriole Pkwy, which is tricky.

I don't think licensing would do much for cycling safety. Most cyclists hold driver's licences, and it's clear that holding a driver's licence doesn't make drivers consistently safer either.

All-way stops are a problem for drivers too - it's increasingly obvious that fewer and fewer drivers have any clue about the right of way, taking turns, etc., and are paralysed by indecision or driven by arrogance when they encounter one.

Regarding your last paragraph, yes, reading the HTA would be a good idea for everyone. It actually has nothing to say about passing on the right, except where MOTOR vehicles are concerned. Passing on the right is generally permitted if the vehicle being passed is signalling a left turn. Squeezing past a truck remains a bad idea. Drivers would do well to review the section stating that cyclists may use the full lane if it is not wide enough to share.
the lemur replying to a comment from Vid Ingelevics / August 29, 2013 at 09:46 am
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Bay and Dupont don't meet. Davenport?
Jef replying to a comment from the lemur / August 29, 2013 at 10:49 am
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The Highway Traffic Act treats a cyclist as a driver of a vehicle and thus a cyclist has all the rights and responsibilities of a driver of a vehicle.
the lemur replying to a comment from Jef / August 29, 2013 at 11:08 am
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True, but the section on passing on the right makes reference, solely and specifically, to operators of MOTOR vehicles:

http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/statutes/french/elaws_statutes_90h08_f.htm#s150s1

150. (1) The driver of a *motor* vehicle may overtake and pass to the right of another *vehicle* only where the movement can be made in safety and,

(a) the vehicle overtaken is making or about to make a left turn or its driver has signalled his or her intention to make a left turn;

(b) is made on a highway with unobstructed pavement of sufficient width for two or more lines of vehicles in each direction; or

(c) is made on a highway designated for the use of one-way traffic only.
Ryan replying to a comment from Jef / August 29, 2013 at 02:13 pm
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In theory, Lakeshore & Carlaw is a nicely designed intersection. But it's dangerous because many drivers are in such a hurry to get on and off Lakeshore at high speeds. They'll turn right onto Lakeshore on a red light without watching where they're going, and many drivers try to turn left onto Carlaw well after their advance left light has changed.

It's a good intersection, plagued with terrible driving and bereft of enforcement.
Jef replying to a comment from the lemur / August 29, 2013 at 02:36 pm
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You're right. My comment was mostly regarding cyclists, passing a motor vehicle on the right, while the vehicle is making a right turn. This is where most accidents of this type occur and it is mainly due to the complete lack of knowledge of traffic rules among the majority of the cyclists.

@Ryan - right turn on red light onto Lakeshore is not allowed, and this rule is being observed by the majority of drivers elsewhere according to my observations. so I see no point on blaming it all on the drivers

the lemur replying to a comment from Jef / August 29, 2013 at 03:40 pm
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Passing a right-turning vehicle on a bike is generally a bad idea, except perhaps if you are turning right as well (in which case caution is advisable). However, there are several factors involved in this, such as whether the driver signals the turn, signals late, speeds up to pass the cyclist in order to make the turn, or whether the cyclist attempts to squeeze through when the car is already turning or waiting to turn.
squintymacscowls / August 29, 2013 at 10:06 pm
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I've ventured through many of those intersections, but for me it's where Dundas West and Dupont merge that one is rather terrifying.
Joy replying to a comment from allisa / September 6, 2013 at 01:15 pm
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Yes! My husband bailed where Dundas branches off to College. The streetcar tracks there are a jumbled mess for cyclists. He ended up with 7 stitches along his chin and the bike was totalled.

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