Published on Oct 22 2015Tess Kalinowski
Bike traffic is up — way up — on the redesigned portion of Queens Quay that includes an extension of the Martin Goodman Trail on the south side of the street.
Despite some initial confusion about how bikes and pedestrians mix on the new section of trail, nearly 600 cyclists an hour are travelling the waterfront during some weekday and weekend periods, according to Waterfront Toronto, the agency in charge of the Queens Quay makeover, which officially opened in the summer.
That’s how many bikes on average traveled through the Lower Simcoe intersection per hour between noon and 4 p.m. on the weekend of Sept. 5 and 6, during the popular Hot & Spicy Food Festival.
That’s more than 10 times as many as the 40 cyclists an hour counted at the same intersection in 2007 during that event.
Nearly 600 cyclists an hour are also using the trail during the weekday rush. A Tuesday, Sept. 1 count showed bike traffic was highest around 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Waterfront officials expected lots of bike traffic on weekends but weren’t sure the new trail would attract many commuters.
“What we’re really excited to see is at peak rush-hour times, we get our biggest spikes. It’s way more than what the city has seen on some of the new cycle tracks they’ve put in which also have seen impressive increases,” said Waterfront’s Mira Shenker.
On Thursday, Aug. 13, there were 4,571 cyclists on Queens Quay. On Monday, Sept. 7, the number had risen to 6,189.
Shenker, who commutes on the trail herself, said safe cycling infrastructure is attracting more cyclists.
A 2013 bike count west of the revitalized Queens Quay near Remembrance Dr. showed strong cycling numbers. Where the trail ended near Stadium Rd., barely any cyclists continued east in mixed traffic.
The new bi-directional trail on Queens Quay has been tweaked since it opened. Intersection audits showed “a lot of small conflicts — a cyclist stopping short or a pedestrian stopping short when they realized, ‘Oops, I’m stepping into a bad location,’” said Shenker.
To address the confusion, Waterfront Toronto has painted “stop” in the blue bike boxes at the intersections to show cyclists where to brake, ahead of the pedestrian crossing area. It also posted signs warning cyclists to watch for pedestrians.
Jared Kolb of Cycle Toronto calls the new trail “a significant achievement.” However, he said, pedestrians don’t necessarily understand where they’re supposed to stand and walk, and they tend to wander into the bike path.
“The pedestrian-cycling conflict was really elevated in August with that video capture of the pedestrian punching the cyclist. That reflects the negative side of the conflict that has been shifted onto pedestrians and cyclists through the design,” he said.
“We’re pretty new at designing protected bike lanes. It is a work in progress, and we’ve got design standards that are improving in the city, based on international best practices,” he said.
Cycling is increasingly popular, but it will become more so as people feel it’s a safe choice. Citing traffic and transit, Kolb said, “The other options are so bad.”
Waterfront Toronto collaborated with the city to extend the Martin Goodman Trail west from Yo-Yo Ma Lane to Stadium Rd. to complete the connection. And, as part of the interim improvements to Queens Quay, the trail was extended east of Bay St. to Parliament.