Passing the Buck on Safety at Ontario Place Parking Lot Entrances

There’s a steaming pile of mess out front of Ontario Place, and for once it isn’t left behind by our mounted police officers.

To redirect cyclists, joggers, rollerbladers and other non-Ontario Place guests from interfering with park entrance line ups (do they even exist these days?), the Martin Goodman Trail was redirected in 2008 and now runs beside Lake Shore Boulevard. In the process of straightening the trail and separating it from park visitor foot traffic, which is a good thing and a benefit to the hundreds who use this path to commute year round, a new issue has arisen.

As seen above, there are signs, there are traffic lights, and there are p-gates that narrow the path drastically.

I’ve written why these gates create more hazards than they supposedly prevent. Toronto Star’s The Fixer has written about the gates, not once, not twice but three times now.

First, The Fixer: Barricades are a big bang for cyclists:

The barriers, which are mounted to poles on both sides and swing out to cut the width of the trail by half, force cyclists to squeeze between them, sometimes with disastrous results, said McNally.

“I had a bad crash into one more than six weeks ago, when they were unexpectedly closed for the first time in my memory, during a morning commute,” he said.

“While I waited for assistance, another cyclist had similar spill,” he said, adding that it took five weeks to recover from the accident.

Then, The Fixer gets action: Martin Goodman Trail a little safer already:

The trio talked over ideas for thwarting motorists while reducing the risk to cyclists from the barriers, nearby utility poles and vehicles crossing the bike path as they turn onto Ontario Place Blvd.

The ideas include better signage for cyclists and painting the path red at the approach to the intersection (to warn them to slow down), as well as barriers made of flexible material that will give if a cyclist runs into one.

For now, Dann has agreed to open barriers on one side of the path, which will allow more space for cyclists to pass each other, while still serving as an impediment to vehicles.

And he’s looking hard at the other ideas, saying anything that is feasible and will improve safety at the intersection will be seriously considered.

And now, The Fixer: Metal gates return to menace cyclists:

The city parks department, which is responsible for the trail, decided to open them after our column, figuring the hazard they posed to cyclists was greater than the need to keep cars off.

But Ontario Place owns the property over which the trail runs and overruled the decision. It closed the gates again last week, saying vehicles on the trail are more dangerous to people than the barriers.

Jonathan Daley, Ontario Place’s director of corporate affairs, said drivers leaving from the Remembrance Dr. entrance at the west end of the park try to sneak onto the trail to get a jump on slow traffic.

Ontario Place decided to close them to ensure drivers don’t start using the trail again, said Daley, adding it is responsible for the safety of people on its property, even those using the trail.

In The Fixer’s follow-up, a van is seen driving along the trail. How did that van get there if the gates were closed? Obviously, the only activity these gates are actually inhibiting is the use of common sense in intersection design.

It appears as though Jonathan Daley at Ontario Place needs more encouragement to not only open and remove these p-gates, but he also needs a hand when it comes to creating a solution that does not put trail users into dangerous situations. Let’s take a visual look at what can be done to stave off the supposed problem of trail driving dummies:

portland springwater trail road intersection

How staggeringly simple! A single bollard on the dividing line and two more permanent fixtures on the path’s edge. The Martin Goodman Trail is cleared of snow all winter and to allow snow removal vehicles the p-gates remain open all winter. Using the above solution, the centre bollard can easily be removed and will not impede snow clearing vehicles.

Why then does Ontario Place (or at least their representative) feel that trail users must take full responsibility for a problem not caused by them and deal with a current solution that places them at greater risk of personal injury?

Send an e-mail to Jonathan Daley, Ontario Place’s director of corporate affairs, and let him know that the current situation along the Martin Goodman Trail is unacceptable, needlessly dangerous and finally, easily fixable.



  1. Ontario Place / the Province of Ontario spent over $9million on the trail, and they don’t want to admit that they spent this money to make a situation worse than what it had been. But that is what they have done. The original south route of the trail worked much better than the current configuration — with or without the “P” gates.

    The fact that the trail now has to cross three driveways that are built better than most roads is the starting of the failure here, and the design of those crossings for the trail users further shows the contempt that the Province/Ontario Place has for the users of the trail. The P gates just further the humiliations suffered by the trail users.

    Where it crosses the North-South arterial roads, The bike trail on Eglinton Ave West is built better than Ontario Place.

    And now the Province/Ontario Place does not want spend any more money for fear that it will have to admit that it made a mistake.

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