Planned construction of a new, permanent two-way cycle track along The Esplanade and Mill Street in Toronto will officially begin on the evening of Sunday, October 17.
The new bikeway will help improve overall road safety for the surrounding communities, support transit use, and grow Toronto’s cycling network in three of the city’s heritage neighbourhoods (Canary and Distillery Districts and St. Lawrence Market area).
The Esplanade and Mill Street Connection project was approved in June 2021, following more than one year of extensive public consultation and planning. Through that work, City of Toronto 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:
When fully connected from Bayview Avenue to Yonge Street, the project will represent a complete street approach that aims to improve road safety; support active transportation, local businesses, and the environment; and will beautify the public realm. 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.
Data from 2015 to 2019 shows more than 340 reported collisions 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 more people are expected to choose these modes, as the neighbourhoods experience population growth from new developments. Data also demonstrated that a high level of ”traffic infiltration” takes place along The Esplanade (when drivers from outside the area use the route to cut through and gain access to other main roads, such as Lake Shore Boulevard and the Gardiner Expressway), which has resulted in local concerns about road safety.
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:
Toronto’s Cycling Network Plan (adopted by Council in 2019) 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.
More information about The Esplanade and Mill Street Connection project is available here
More information about Toronto’s Cycling Network Plan is available here
Information about the 121 Esplanade-River TTC bus route can be found here
“City staff have consulted with the local community for more than a year and are taking action to make roads in these three heritage areas safer. This project is another example of the City implementing the approved Toronto Cycling Network Plan and building up our cycling network.”
– Mayor John Tory
“Growing and connecting our city’s cycling network creates safer streets to support our Vision Zero road safety goals and helps contribute to lower greenhouse gas emissions.”
– Councillor Jennifer McKelvie (Scarborough-Rouge Park), Chair of the Infrastructure and Environment Committee
“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 neighbourhood 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.”
– Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam (Toronto Centre)
“Providing safe, active transportation options to help people get to and from downtown is critical to our city’s ongoing recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. With more Torontonians walking, cycling, and using different methods of transportation to get around the city, we need to ensure our roads are safe and accessible for everyone. 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.”
– Councillor Joe Cressy (Spadina-Fort York)
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