December 04, 2021

Previewing The Queensway Reconstruction

The Infrastructure and Environment Committee approved the 2022 to 2024 cycling implementation plan and making last year’s ActiveTO bike lanes permanent on Thursday. (read my analysis here) These motions will go to City Council on December 15. One of the proposed projects is the reconstruction of The Queensway from the Humber River bridge to Burma Drive which will be subject to a virtual public meeting on December 7, 2021. I had the chance to view the materials during a stakeholder meeting earlier this week and with the slides now publicly available, here is a recap of what can be expected.

All images used in this post are found in the City of Toronto's presentation deck

The Queensway reconstruction is part of the broader Park Lawn Lake Shore Transportation Master Plan (TMP) and is planned for 2023 ahead of the Gardiner Expressway rehabilitation scheduled for 2024 to 2026. City staff did their usual overview of policies such as the Official Plan, Vision Zero, Complete Streets Guidelines, Cycling Network Plan, and TransformTO (which itself had almost 50 people speak at yesterday’s IEC meeting). The project not only plans to add raised cycle tracks, but also wider sidewalks and greenery which is scarce in the area.

The right of way varies between 26.8 and 34.4 metres along the entire corridor which allows for two narrowed traffic lanes in each direction to be maintained and the addition of a centre median. The bike lanes on Stephen Drive will also be upgraded to cycle tracks from The Queensway to Ringley, while new cycle tracks will be added on Park Lawn for the same distance.

One thing that stands out with this project is the use of protected intersections at Park Lawn and Stephen. Toronto is only getting started on this front with its first protected intersection under construction near York University, while they hosted a consultation about another one proposed in Flemingdon Park. The City needs to ensure protected intersections are include with all future cycling projects.

The Queensway and Park Lawn intersection drawings show a bi-directional path on the southwest corner. This is to eventually connect The Queensway with the future Mimico Creek Trail which is currently an unpaved trail. There is no firm timeline for making the Mimico Creek trail an official paved trail, but the City is currently working with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority on that front.

During the Q&A session, there was a question raised about improving protection across the Humber River Bridge, but the project scope stops just before the bridge. With the buffers already there, this should be a no brainer for the City to implement. Several questions were raised about connections to the Humber River Trail, the Humber streetcar loop, and the future Park Lawn GO station. For the latter, it was noted the TMP – which would incorporate this idea – could take as long as 10 to 15 years to be fully implemented. One thing which had unanimous support among the stakeholders is the need to extend the Queensway bike lanes 600 metres to the existing ones on Royal York. If the Bloor bike lane extension scope could be changed from High Park to Runnymede, there is no reason why the same cannot happen here.

Speaking of these annoying gaps, Frostbike author Tom Babin put up a great video illustrating some of the cycling network gaps Calgary has experienced and can be equally applicable in Toronto and other cities. Gaps such as the Bloor bike lane under the Railpath come to mind, though Yonge will have one such gap from Davisville to Eglinton once the proposed bike lanes get completed there.

Comments for The Queensway reconstruction project are due on December 21, 2021. The project will then be sent to the infrastructure and Environment Committee in Q1 2022 with detailed design planned later in the year before the 2023 construction start date.

Even if you never use The Queensway, the City of Toronto has another consultation scheduled for the same evening (Tuesday, December 7) to add cycle tracks on Sheppard Avenue from Bonnington Place (east of Yonge Street) to Leslie Street. The existing Willowdale bike lanes are proposed to be extended to Sheppard as part of this project, while comments are due on Thursday, December 30. The Douro and Wellington bike lanes will be upgraded to bi-directional cycle tracks and extended to Blue Jays Way next year, while the City significantly improved the design of Port Union Road to include raised cycle tracks thanks to the public feedback from a previous meeting.

Regardless of which part of Toronto you live in, it’s important to make your voices heard for the road safety projects that matter to you. The feedback can be helpful in making useful changes to these projects to ensure safer streets for all.

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