esplanade mill bike lanes

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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."

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.

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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