October 03, 2016

Quirks Along Toronto's Waterfront

Toronto’s Martin Goodman Trail is THE signature destination for the city’s residents; especially the cycling community. The transformed Queen’s Quay opened last year to great fanfare and work is under way in completing a major gap in Etobicoke from Norris Crescent to First Street. Even with these improvements, here are the top ten concerns along the Martin Goodman Trail from a cycling perspective.

This bike box at Simcoe barely fits regular bikes
10 – Narrow Bike Boxes – Bike boxes exist at Simcoe Street and other streets with bike lanes to facilitate turns onto them. However, the bike boxes are narrow and cannot fit larger bikes such as Dutch cargo bikes (a.k.a. bakfiets). They are even narrower than the bike boxes found on Harbord Street.
Queen's Quay at Dan Leckie Way with Cyclists Dismount sign
9 – Cyclists Dismount Signs – These signs occur at a 60 metre gap east of Bathurst Street, which regularly gets ignored. Fortunately, Waterfront Toronto is planning to extend the deck and complete the trail, but the question is when?
Queen's Quay at Yonge Street
8 – Unnecessary Signals – While Queens Quay at Spadina Avenue and Yonge Street are both T-intersections, cyclists only have to watch for pedestrians at Spadina while they are required to stop for red lights at Yonge. No wonder why many cyclists ignore this traffic signal. Instead, separation should be added across the intersection with signage instructing cyclists to yield to pedestrians.

There are a couple of other intersections which contain bicycle signals, yet only serve parking lots such as east of Spadina.

7 – Trail Switchovers – The Martin Goodman Trail switches sides at Commissioners Street; requiring an inconvenient two stage crossing. Ideally, the trail should remain on one side, though that poses challenges at the bridges crossing the Keating Channel (near Lake Shore Boulevard) and the Don River. Alternatively, the intersection could be modified into a pedestrian and cyclist scramble similar to those found at Yonge-Dundas Square.

There is a section of Queen’s Quay west of Parliament Street where the pedestrian and cycling routes cross. While nowhere near as annoying as Commissioners Street, it can pose problems should high pedestrian volumes be present.
Southbound bike lane is provided on Jameson, but no northbound lane?
6 – Disconnected Bridges – While not a problem with the trail itself, the bridge at Jameson Avenue does not connect to any bike lanes for northbound cyclists. The Jameson and Lake Shore intersection is consistently rated one of the city’s ten most dangerous for vulnerable road users. Instead of Jameson, the cycling network plan proposed a contraflow bike lane on Dowling Avenue to connect Parkdale residents to the Waterfront. More on this in a future post.
Vehicle lay-by lane west of Bay with lack of separation from trail
5 – Lay-bys Without Barriers – A vehicle lane for parking access, deliveries, and pick-ups/drop-offs exists between York and Bay Streets. However, there have been some complaints reported about motorists blocking the trail from this lay-by; thus emphasizing the need for proper separation.
The dotted purple line next to Tommy Thompson Park
indicates work is planned to fill this trail gap. (via new bike plan)
4 – Trail Gaps – In addition to the gap in Etobicoke, another trail gap exists between the Tommy Thompson Park and Outer Harbour Marina entrances. Continuing on the trail means cyclists use the south side shoulder. Filling this gap is indicated in the cycling network plan, but no timeline has been set at this time.
This trail section by Ontario Place gets crowded during events
3 – Overcrowding During Events – Whenever there is a concert or other special events happening at or near Ontario Place, the trail is crowded and cyclists have difficulty getting through. A separate pedestrian path is needed to accommodate this overflow. The lack of bicycle parking is another issue to deal with.
Trail visibility at Coronation Park (pictured) is poor at night
2 – Poorly Lit Sections – The trail section between Stadium Road and Strachan Avenue (Coronation Park) has poor lighting; making it difficult to see the trail, debris, or other users at night. With large numbers of cyclists out at night, lighting should be added as soon as possible.

And the number one concern along the Martin Goodman Trail is …
Cyclist crossing Lake Shore at Cherry illegally due to long signal waits
1 – Unsafe Intersections – Cyclists coming from (or heading to) the Lower Don Recreational Trail or other nearby destinations have to wait a long time for the walk signal to cross Lake Shore; making illegal crossings common. Two crossings are required and the refuge island between the two is not meant to accommodate large bicycle volumes. Fixing signal timings and realigning the crossing so only one is needed would help considerably.
Three crossings needed to get from the trail to Parkside
Another unsafe intersection exists at Parkside Drive, which requires pedestrians and cyclists to make three crossings before reaching the other side. Couldn’t this area be simplified so only one crossing is needed as with nearby intersections? (e.g. Colborne Lodge, Ellis Avenue, Windermere Avenue)

Are there any other key Waterfront problems not mentioned? Let’s hear them and fix our Waterfront!

Rob Z (e-mail)


  1. Braided steel cable planted dead centre of the MGT just west of Sugar Beach. Grounding or guy wire for utility pole next to the trail.

    While the cable has a yellow protective sleeve, it's in the middle of another squeeze point, similar to the one east of Bathurst, and lighting is poor. Only a matter of time before someone goes through there who isn't familiar with the area, and plows right into the cable, injuring themself

    1. That's a good point about the steel cable by Jarvis. Thank you.