For students of urban geography, the Georgetown rail corridor functions as a boundary between the city's older core and the string of west-end neighbourhoods extending from Parkdale up to High Park and Mount Dennis. For cyclists and explorers, it has evolved into a gritty sort of linear park. But for drivers, the tracks are nothing but a wall of trouble with few navigable openings, among them the twisting, turning underpass where Dupont morphs into the wickedly off-kilter intersection where Annette and Dundas West meet in a blur of lights and bike lanes.
Copywriter Sophie Howe, who lives in Roncy, experiences that knot when she heads across Dupont and turns south on Dundas West. Those familiar with the area know there's a ramp that peels off the Dupont underpass and meets Dundas at an oblique angle. The ramp abuts a stone retaining wall and a triangular parkette with enough trees to obscure southbound Dundas traffic. "You have to launch yourself out on Dundas in a leap of faith that you're going to make it," she says, noting that nosing into traffic means "literally cranking your head around further than your head wants to go. That funny little ramp, it shouldn't even be there."
Ms. Howe thinks this is a sufficiently problematic intersection that the city should try some outside-the-box thinking. "A roundabout may be the best solution," she says, suggesting it could replace the intersection and put that troublesome ramp out of business. Familiar to those who've driven in the United Kingdom and Europe, roundabouts are often associated with nightmarish traffic circles, such as the one around the Arc de Triomphe. But a growing number of traffic experts say they reduce congestion and smog. There are, in fact, a few in Toronto, including one in Swansea and several others on the side streets near Bayview and Eglinton.
Unlike many drivers, Ms. Howe doesn't look for urban pressure valves. For those who want to ford the corridor in a more circuitous way, there's an at-grade crossing not far north, via Keele and Junction Road, which meets up with Davenport. If a train is coming, however, you're stuck. An alternative to the ramp is traversing the Annette intersection and taking lefts on Indian Road and Humberside, a side street route that ends in a more conventional right onto Dundas West.
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Special to The Globe and Mail