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I’ve biked the West Toronto Railpath – or the WTR – a bunch of times. Discovering it on the way home from my volunteer bonanza over Christmas, it was like a dream. Above the traffic, away from lights, away from aggressive drivers, here was this linear park that pooped me out at little stops along the way.
Why can’t we have this everywhere, I thought.
I even tweeted about the concept:
Q: How awesome would it be to have a bike highway all along the railroad lines? A: So Awesome. #fridaydaydreams
— Kim Bethke (@KimBethke) April 5, 2013
Turns out, Friends of the West Toronto Railpath is a community-based working group with the goal of assisting the City of Toronto design, finance and build a 6.5 kilometre linear park from Toronto’s Junction Neighbourhood into the heart of the city. They’re currently lobbying to extend the Railpath south into the core, just by following along the rail lines.
The first section of the Railpath took ten years of planning, lobbying, and prodding; Construction of Phase 1 of the path, running from Cariboo Avenue to Dundas Street West and Sterling Road, began in 2008 and was completed in 2009. Support for this project seems to have come from all sides – the City of Toronto Economic Development and Parks Committees, grassroots community support, the Evergreen Foundation and, Toronto’s Community Bicycle Network; however, the project necessitated the purchase of land and negotiations with rail operators and other stakeholders.
With plans for the bike path to head all the way to union station, and other rail trail paths in existence ( like the Toronto Beltline, Leaside Rail Trail, and the massive multi-use trail network ; hopefully I can look forward to a day where I’m riding the rails around this city.