Confusion on the Waterfront

There’s a new mixed-use path down along the waterfront.

Only, it doesn’t go along the water. Ontario Place has claimed that stretch of land for parking.

Replacing a cumbersome diversion through a parking lot and past line ups of tourists, the Martin Goodman Trail now runs parallel to Lake Shore Boulevard and since it’s opening on July 31, 2009, has already brought about a concern for safety.

Over the long weekend I took a trip down the new path to see what all the fuss was about. Cycling west from Harbourfront along Queen’s Quay was jammed with cars, transit and bikes, reaching the Martin Goodman trail feels like a serene stretch of calm in comparison.

After looping around the Inukshuk at the beginning of the extension, I meet with the first of 3 crossings. Lake Shore Boulevard is quiet late in the afternoon today, the only traffic here is heading home and not turning in to Ontario Place. So, I don’t get to see the mayhem of motorists turning left and taking out cyclists. Although I can certainly see how this could happen.

All quiet at the new bicycle and pedestrian crossing in front of Ontario Place

In the photo above you can see the bicycle signal, the pedestrian signal and two separate paths across the intersection for each. The gates placed just before where the path meets the road do a decent job of slowing bicycle traffic and alerting users to the coming hazard of an intersection.

Of course, this doesn’t make for a continuous commute, but for the weekend warrior it’s a way of herding the crowds that will accumulate here on red lights.

The signals change quickly, and I believe wait times are less than 30 seconds from what I can tell.

Crossing without much panic
Once across the intersection I am greeted by this sign:

Authorized Vehicles Only
“AUTHORIZED VEHICLES ONLY” Really? That’s the best wording you could use? This sounds so intimidating. Is my bicycle authorized? What are the other authorized vehicles? I thought this was a mixed-use path, not a passage for vehicles of any sort.

Under the assumption that I have full authorization, I continue along the path. I encounter mostly joggers, rollerbladers and cyclists. The roadies won’t like the slow pace here and I expect to see a lot of “scorchers” burning around everyone. But there is a good amount of space and I don’t feel I have to ride in the grass to avoid getting run over by faster users.

And just look at how everyone is getting along. On a quiet day no one seems upset after crossing at the parking lot entrances.

Mixed-use Happiness on the Martin Goodman Trail

While not perfect, the crossings are built to acknowledge safety concerns by slowing traffic along the path. Unfortunately, I neglect to see any notice to drivers to yield to cyclists and foot traffic. Although, in Toronto, motorists believe they have the right of way (and they make that claim with force) so it is reasonable to expect problems along this route at much busier times.

As a final thought, I did encounter a strange event. As I was crossing at the second intersection two motorcycle police made a wide u-turn on Lake Shore and turned into the CNE grounds. Another cyclist spotted this as well, and as he approached the intersection he hopped off of his bike and walked it through the green light eying the biker cops the whole time.

Obviously this cyclist wants to follow the rules, only he doesn’t know what they are. Why he didn’t follow the lead of every other cyclist and ride through the green light is beyond me. Hopefully another friendly cyclist will inform him to stay calm, carry on through the intersection next time.

Oh, and once I was beyond the “crossings of death” I am back along the waterfront where you get to see strange things like this:


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  1. […] the Don valley. Miller’s also responsible for the incomplete West Toronto Railpath, and for moving the western Martin Goodman Trail to a dangerous spot along Lakeshore Boulevard West. The only break in the Lake Ontario Waterfront Trail is in eastern Toronto, there is still no plan […]

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