February 15, 2021

Winter 2021 Consultation Roundup

While winter may appear to be a slow period for cycling – notwithstanding the growing numbers of people choosing to bike year round – the public consultations have come fast and furious. The City of Toronto hosted two consultations in December bike lanes on Martin Grove Road and Cummer Avenue, while Metrolinx hosted one about the Durham – Scarborough BRT which includes protected bike lanes. In early February, the City unveiled plans to upgrade the Davenport bike lanes and extend them to Yonge. If that wasn’t enough for you, there are at least four more projects the City is currently collecting feedback on.

Rendering of The Esplanade - Via City of Toronto

Birmingham Bike Lane Upgrades

While many people will use the side streets south of Lake Shore to use the Waterfront Trail, another alternate to Lake Shore lies one block north on Birmingham which has painted bike lanes. However, the traffic lanes are currently too wide ranging from 3.6 to 4.1 metres. Given this excess space, the City is able to upgrade the bike lanes with protection and not impact current operations. The one exception would be switching the bike and parking lane east of Islington so that the bike lane is now curbside.

Birmingham Street existing and proposed conditions - Via City of Toronto

As much as we should push to upgrade as many existing bike lanes as possible to have protection – and we should still support this upgrade – I have one concern. Upgrading the Birmingham bike lanes risks reducing support for upgrading the existing bike lanes on Lake Shore and extending them to First Street. An upgrade that would have been more meaningful given Lake Shore is where the businesses are and bikes mean business. Comments e-mailed to cycling@toronto.ca are due this Friday (February 19).

Esplanade and Mill Street

A bi-directional cycle track is being considered along The Esplanade and Mill Street from Yonge to Bayview to connect with the Lower Don Trail, Corktown Common, Distillery District, Sherbourne cycle tracks, and St. Lawrence Market. The two streets will be connected by a trail adjacent to the Parliament Square Park parking lot to reduce crowding along the pedestrian path. Several measures are being taken to reduce non-local motor vehicle traffic including one-way segments and a transit only segment to help improve service on the 121 Fort York – Esplanade bus route.

Proposed traffic restrictions on The Esplanade - Via City of Toronto

Installation will be done in two phases with work east of Sherbourne starting this year to facilitate cycling access during the planned Sherbourne cycle tracks and Lower Don Trail closures under the railway tracks. Installation west of Sherbourne will be done in 2022 once a St. Lawrence Market tent is taken down and resurfacing can be done between Church and Scott Streets. A virtual meeting will be held on Thursday, February 25 and the online survey will be up until Sunday, March 14.

Proposed bike path adjacent to the Parliament Square parking lot - Via City of Toronto

Waterfront East LRT Extension

Despite this consultation being transit focused, there are some important cycling impacts along Queens Quay East. A streetcar portal will be added just west of Yonge Street while the streetcar right of way will be placed between the road and the Martin Goodman Trail just as what exists west of Bay Street. The trail will be raised by five centimetres to address stormwater management concerns and the trail will be 4.2 metres wide. Queens Quay will be extended from Parliament Street to a realigned Cherry Street; prompting a realignment of the MGT east of Parliament. The Waterfront East LRT is looking at several turnaround points including Parliament Street, Cherry Street (to connect with the 504 King streetcar), Polson Pier, and the Broadview extension to the proposed East Harbour station servicing GO Transit and the future Ontario Line.

Preliminary design for Queens Quay extension to Cherry Street - Via City of Toronto

A virtual meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, February 17 with comments due by Thursday, March 4.

Don Mills Crossing

One beef I have with the Don Valley trail system is the lack of continuity near Eglinton. Right now, the Don Mills Trail ends just north of Eglinton and Leslie, but there is not a safe way to get to Leslie Street. As part of the revitalization of the Celestica site at Don Mills and Eglinton, a new bridge is being proposed to cross the CP Rail corridor onto a proposed trail along the Wynford Drive extension which would connect with the Eglinton Crosstown LRT. A multi-use trail connection is also being studied to link the Wynford extension with the West Don Trail and effectively complete the Toronto portion of the Lake to Lake Trail.

Map of proposed cycling connections near Don Mills and Eglinton - Via City of Toronto

Several bridge and ramp designs were proposed with the preferred alternative having steel I-girders and two straight ramps creating a switchback. The ramp on the east side of the railway tracks is expected to have separate pedestrian and cycling spaces, as well as stairs. Comments are due by Monday, March 22 while construction is expected to occur in 2024-2025.

Rendering of preferred Don Mills Crossing design - Via City of Toronto

Next Steps

Normally, the City of Toronto gives two weeks notice for public consultations, which can make it difficult to forecast when other consultations will come up. Some of the projects are expected to come to the Infrastructure and Environment Committee as early as March 23 and may become part of an “omnibus” bill listing several projects for installation this year. In any case, I recommend subscribing to the committee updates if you haven’t already so you can view the meeting agendas one week in advance and prepare to start writing in support of various projects as they come up.

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