These Toronto street upgrades are confusing drivers and delighting cyclists
The latest infrastructure upgrade improving cyclist, public transit, and pedestrian conditions across two major Toronto streets and a park is more proof that no decision at city hall is going to make everyone happy.
As the name implies, The Esplanade and Mill Street Connection is linking the two streets with cycling infrastructure and bridging the St. Lawrence and Distillery District neighbourhoods in the process.
Road safety upgrades continue on Mill St as part of The Esplanade and Mill Street Connection project with the pre-markings for cycle tracks, signage installation, & partial activation of bicycle signals. See https://t.co/bef6j9MxRE for full project & construction details. (1/7)— Toronto Cycling (@TO_Cycling) October 28, 2021
The project is bringing new bi-directional cycle tracks to the south sides of both streets, joined via a new cycle track passing through Parliament Square Park.
Pavement markings have been added on Mill St between Trinity St & Parliament St for cycle track installation, with temporary barrels in place until curbs are added next week. Motorists should park to the right of the cycle track on this section of Mill St. (3/7) pic.twitter.com/OPaOy0JwiS— Toronto Cycling (@TO_Cycling) October 28, 2021
This first phase of the project's implementation (covering Mill Street and The Esplanade east of Sherbourne Street) began in mid-October.
This and future phases of the upgrade will combine to form a continuous cycling route spanning over two kilometres from Yonge Street and The Esplanade in the west to the Bayview and Front intersection in the east.
Bicycle signals are being partially activated at the intersection of Mill St and Cherry St. These new signals will also be located at Parliament St and Lower Sherbourne St, and separate movement of vulnerable road users from vehicles. (4/7) pic.twitter.com/XQxPbW2wsW— Toronto Cycling (@TO_Cycling) October 28, 2021
The Esplanade and Mill Street Connection is also adding new dedicated bus lanes with bright red markings along the route, and severely restricting vehicular traffic in a manner similar to King Street.
Unlike green thermoplastic, which comes in sheets that are heated onto the road, the red is a liquid with grit poured on and rolled. Lots of fumes 🤪 pic.twitter.com/3T3i3XbFzP— Owen McGaughey (@McgaugheyOwen) October 20, 2021
Traffic has been pocketed off into short stretches of one-way traffic alternating between eastbound and westbound, which will eliminate vehicles using these routes as thoroughfares, improving transit reliability and making the streets more hospitable for pedestrian life.
A la the King Street project, this week the city just turned The Esplanade between Sherbourne and Berkeley into a one-way, no through street with a bike lane. This will limit vehicle travel options east-west. #Toronto pic.twitter.com/xHpTt8ooKX— 𝚂𝚎á𝚗 𝙾’𝚂𝚑𝚎𝚊 Global News (@ConsumerSOS) October 21, 2021
Just like when the King Street Pilot Project was introduced, drivers aren't happy. Some either haven't gotten the memo or simply just don't care.
One commenter noticed that though a one-block section of The Esplanade between Lower Sherbourne Street and Princess Street should be restricted to traffic, "there is a constant stream of cars ignoring the sign and driving through this section of The Esplanade."
Hi @311Toronto - if the one-block section of The Esplanade between Lower Sherbourne St and Princess St is supposed to be closed to vehicular traffic (other than TTC buses and bicycles) then you need better signs. There is a constant stream of cars ignoring the sign and … 1/2 pic.twitter.com/REVMB4MsZN— Christopher (@CJ_1976_) October 22, 2021
The Oct. 22 tweet's call to station police officers at confusing positions along the project route may have struck a chord, as Toronto Police and traffic agents were on scene at Parliament and Mill today to manage confused motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians.
Toronto Police & traffic agents are present at the intersection of Parliament St and Mill St to manage the movement of people cycling, walking & driving at this key intersection, which improves safety for all road users. (5/7) pic.twitter.com/5NUeaFIOrT— Toronto Cycling (@TO_Cycling) October 28, 2021
It's never a surprise when drivers are unhappy about new bike lanes, but there's also been negative feedback from area locals, including the creation of a petition seeking a return of two-way traffic on The Esplanade between Sherbourne and Princess.
Love it or hate it, implementation of the project's first phase is expected to continue until the end of November.
Phase 2 is on hold until the new St. Lawrence North Market is completed and the temporary tent hosting (deep breath) the former north farmers' market located south of the main south market (The Market Formerly Known as North?) is removed to make way the upgrades.
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