Queens Quay Cycling Detour Update

A sign near the foot of Bathurst advises of Queens Quay eastbound road closure

Queens Quay Cycling Detour Update

Text and photos by Sarah Greene

If you’ve taken your first trip to the Islands this year, or tried to bike (or walk, or drive) east-west on Queens Quay lately, you're surely aware that the area remains in a state of major flux as the City works on demolishing, rebuilding and constructing the strip as part of a huge revitalization project that is anticipated to take until the Spring of 2015 to completely finish – right in time for the Pan Am Games.

Queens Quay and Spadina: the Cyclist Detour begins here

“The good news,” says Queens Quay working group member Clay McFayden, “is that the new Martin Goodman trail sections from Bay to Yonge and Yonge to Jarvis are under final construction now and will be open by the end of June; the really short Bay bike lanes should be open then too.” Further east on Queens Quay between Jarvis and Parliament, bike lanes have already been upgraded - resurfaced and widened with old rail tracks removed, and some new signage (the painting should be finished by the end of May).

But the bad news, he says, pertains to Queens Quay West from Bay to Spadina. “It has been delayed a bit; Queens Quay West will be one-way all summer, winter and spring until 2014.”

Cyclist Detour - remember to yield to pedestrians sharing the path

Luckily, the City has provided a signed Cyclist Detour from Spadina to York along the old Martin Goodman Trail under the Gardiner and cyclists are encouraged to use the multi-use trail by the water between Dan Leckie Way and Spadina. But there are some parts of the trip along the Queens Quay strip in which one cannot avoid either sharing the road with a narrow lane of traffic, or sharing a sidewalk or walkway with pedestrians. If you are biking along a pedestrian path or sidewalk, please be considerate and aware, and please dismount, especially at intersections and coming around corners, where drivers and pedestrians may not see or hear you.

On April 17, dandyhorse received this email from Queens Quay resident and cyclist Cara Gibbons regarding cyclist and pedestrian interactions along the mid-construction Waterfront:

I live in the area and bike and walk there every day. With the warming weather, I have noticed more cyclists using the detour. The portion of the detour going through the pedestrian pathway in the park at Lakeshore and York is a problem. With each day, there are more cyclists (some of them looking not terribly experienced) and many of them are bombing down the path with apparently little regard for the fact that it is shared with pedestrians.

Today I was almost run down by a cyclist who actually made a rude gesture to me while walking on the pedestrian path/bike detour.

I live in the building in front of where the new "Cyclists dismount" sign is (55 Harbour Square). I have never seen a cyclist dismount. Instead, I have been nearly hit by several of them.

I'm pregnant, and my mobility is a little limited. My building is filled with seniors with mobility issues and people with young children. We are not able to move out of the way of fast bikes and we risk being seriously injured if hit by one.

Between the drivers (who have always been scary in their aggressiveness and lack of attention to red lights and pedestrians, especially during rush hour) and the fairweather cyclists, it's frightening to be a pedestrian in the area these days.

I've biked this entire city for over 10 years and I support cycling. It's my primary mode of transportation. But I think we could use a little conversation about mutual respect on shared routes. While we're not 2000 lbs of steel on our bikes, we are fast and we pose a risk to pedestrians. Just as I don't appreciate a car passing me with inches to spare when I'm on my bike, when I walk I don't appreciate a similar treatment from cyclists.

"Walk Your Bike" sign in park at York

McFayden responded to Gibbons’ letter by saying, “I am saddened that people are not always sharing our city with awareness, courtesy and consideration. The "cyclists dismount" signs are intended to be mostly referring to the crosswalk areas at intersections. I hope that as people get familiar with the new arrangement there will be fewer unpleasant situations … if cyclists don't get the message than the police can and will issue tickets at intersections to cyclists who ride in the crosswalks.”

Pedestrians and cyclists share a temporary path at Queens Quay and Bay by the ferry docks

For the time being, an increase in cyclist detour signage at key decision points is to be expected (such as at north-south streets in addition to the beginning and end of the detour area), ensuring that all cyclists (even those who rarely use Queens Quay) know that there is a safe cyclist detour option. Given how busy the construction area is, this addition of signage will hopefully be used by cyclists on the detour and have them refrain from using the sidewalks which are quite constricted in many areas due to construction.

Currently the Queens Quay is one-way westbound, so cyclists must use the detour for eastbound travel on Queens Quay.

Though the delays and detours are admittedly a little annoying (and at times confusing), Torontonians – cyclists included – have a lot to look forward to in our revitalized Waterfront.

A rendering of the Martin Goodman Trail along the Queens Quay, courtesy of Waterfront Toronto

Speaking of the east end of the Queens Quay strip near the foot of Sherbourne during an interview for dandyhorse’s spring safety issue, Councillor Pam McConnell puts the reconfiguration of Queens Quay into a broader context:

“The East Bayfront area has traditionally had no residents, no students, and no workers,” she says. “It has been an open highway – trying to get across Queens Quay (especially at night) is very scary.”

“But it’s only temporary because new condos are being built and a whole new neighbourhood is about to get started to the east of George Brown[‘s Waterfront Campus]; we are trying to [finish the roadwork and construction] so that we are ready – as opposed to having the residents move in and afterwards thinking about where do they cycle, where do they walk? We will be ready for the Games, but more importantly, ready for [life in the new neighbourhood] after the Games.”

The bottom of Sherbourne (from King down to Queens Quay) is still being worked on, so be cautious of construction and giant potholes -- McConnell says that a light will be installed at Sherbourne and Queens Quay soon

Ride cautiously and respectfully along Queens Quay while the City works on finishing the construction, and remember to give yourself a little extra time to get where you are going as you may need to dismount and walk part of the way!


Waterfront Toronto: constructing Queens Quay

Want to see what Queens Quay looks like RIGHT NOW? Scroll down this page to see a webcam perspective of the construction.

Related on the dandyBLOG:

Cyclist detour for Toronto’s waterfront: Spadina to York

dandyARCHIVE: Chijoke Okafo - Core BMX rider, on the first wave deck on the watefront. Photo by John Lee.

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3 responses to “Queens Quay Cycling Detour Update”

  1. Islander says:

    I’m guessing that a substantial fraction of the cyclists riding on the sidewalk between the park and Bay St. (and aggressive riding in the park) is a product of people rushing to catch the ferry. I know that on more forgetful days, I’ve been bad in that way a few times myself (though I usually remember to head to Bay no further south than King, and avoid Queens Quay entirely).

    It’s probably worth noting that between the Queens Quay construction, the end of the cyclists detour, and the Union Station construction, there are no eastbound cycling routes (except for cyclists brave enough to ride Lakeshore) running from York to Bay, south of King St. That’s a pretty big gap, and I’d really like to see the city try to solve this problem by setting up a proper bike route before they go filling the York-Bay strip with cops (because I’m pretty sure that at least a few of my neighbours–and possibly me too–will miss the last ferry home getting ticketed in the park).

  2. Kathleen says:

    I was thinking about this letter while riding the queens quay detour today. There were some roadies that were riding the detour along lakeshore with me. When we hit the sidewalk I dismounted and walked, but they rode on. It is very hard to walk in clipless road shoes, so that might be one reason they walked. It also wasn’t too busy at the time, but I dismounted in consideration of this article. But I got to th

  3. Kathleen says:

    Woops submitted that too soon. Anyway I got to thinking about other reasons cyclists might not dismount
    – unfamiliarity with the route and etiquette
    – cyclists are often told to dismount for no reason at all, and are used to ignoring those signs
    – they have a disability that allows them to cycle but not walk easily
    – their bike is very hard to walk, like a trike or kids bike

    So using a sidewalk is not an adequate substitute for a bike route. Hopefully the city will have a route that actually accommodates cyclists of all sorts next time.

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