Bikeway under construction in Toronto’s historic Canary, Distillery and St. Lawrence Market areas

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

Planned construction of a new, permanent two-way cycle track along The Esplanade and Mill Street in Toronto began last weekend.

The new bikeway is expected to improve overall road safety, support transit use, and grow Toronto’s cycling network in three of the city’s heritage neighborhoods.

“After broad consultation and support from the St. Lawrence community, I am pleased to see the Esplanade-Mill street bike way come to fruition. It will support the many visitors and local residents who enthusiastically champion this historic neighborhood and top tourist destination. Building a safe cycling network is essential in promoting active transportation —  a vital part of achieving road safety and positive environmental change,” said councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam.

The Esplanade and Mill Street Connection project was approved in June 2021, following more than one year of extensive public consultation and planning. Planning staff developed a plan that includes new cycle tracks and intersection safety improvements.

It also delivers traffic management enhancements such as one-way directional changes for motor vehicles and new turning prohibitions at some intersections to improve safety and manage congestion, as well as on-street parking changes. The final design incorporates the recent changes to the 121 Esplanade-River TTC bus route.

The installation for The Esplanade and Mill Street Connection project will be in two phases:

  • Now to end of October – The Esplanade and Mill street from Bayview Avenue to Lower Sherbourne Street
  • Starting in 2022 – The Esplanade from Lower Sherbourne Street to Yonge Street

The fully-installed cycle tracks along The Esplanade and Mill Street will add approximately four kilometres of new cycling infrastructure to Toronto’s rapidly growing cycling network.

More than 340 collisions were reported between 2015 to 2019 along The Esplanade and Mill Street. People walking, cycling, and riding transit make up nearly three-quarters of the trips in the St. Lawrence and Distillery District neighbourhoods – and the neighbourhoods are expecting growth from new developments.

The bikeway, which will deliver a new east-west downtown cycling connection north of the Martin Goodman Trail and east of Yonge Street, will support two other planned cycling route changes in the area:

  • A portion of the Lower Don Trail is being realigned to support the Port Lands Flood Protection project and Mill Street, which will help provide safe, alternate passage into and out of downtown by bike
  • A bike detour connection between the downtown and the Martin Goodman Trail during Metrolinx’s planned construction in 2022 at Lower Sherbourne Street

Toronto’s cycling network plan identified The Esplanade and Mill Street, along with several other new and existing city-wide  bikeways, as a route that will connect gaps in the current cycling network, grow the cycling network into new parts of the city, and renew existing parts of the cycling network to improve safety.

“The new, permanent two-way cycle track along The Esplanade and Mill Street is a key improvement that will connect three downtown neighbourhoods and help expand our city-wide cycling grid,” said councillor Joe Cressy.

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