Feedback: Martin Goodman Trail

As a member of the newly-formed Toronto Cycling Advisory Committee, I will be attending a meeting next week with Antonio Medeiros, a project manager at Waterfront Toronto. He is working on the design for the Martin Goodman Trail at Ontario Place that will run along the south side of Lakeshore Drive directly south of Exhibition Place.

The Waterfront Toronto team is at the beginning stages of the design work and are hoping for some cyclist feedback and thoughts about the project. In particular, the design team is concerned with safely accommodating multiple trail users, as well as creating safe and easy-to-navigate intersections where vehicular traffic must intersect. Please read the following description of the project, as it stands now, and post your comments. This project is already approved and will be completed quickly, with or without cyclists’ input. The more ideas I can bring to the table at this time, the better. Thanks for contributing!

The Martin Goodman Trail at Ontario Place project consists of extending the existing trail from Marilyn Bell Park over to Coronation Park at Strachan Avenue. This segment of the Martin Goodman Trail will be approximately 1100m in length and run parallel along Lakeshore Boulevard. It is expected that the design of the multi-use trail will accommodate a variety of cycling and pedestrian activities including commuter bicyclists, recreational bicycling, joggers, walking, and rollerblading. Construction is anticipated to begin in the Summer of 2008 and be completed in the Spring of 2009.

Building of the trail will necessitate a variety of other non-trail activities, roadways, intersections, and Ontario Place operations to be adjusted and augmented. For example the design of the trail may call for a unified tree canopy along the south side Lakeshore that will need to both serve the trail but also be the front door to Ontario Place. There are also a number of intersections that serve Ontario Place that will need to interface with the trail. Designing safe intersections for both trail users and vehicular traffic will be a key component of the trail design. This section of the trail, unlike the previous segment at Marilyn Bell Park will not interface with the waters edge although segments of it do lie within 30m of the Lake.

Comments

Trying this again, apologies if the post comes through twice, but this is an abbreviated version:

  • Lights - Its near impossible to see pedestrians in the park section
  • Chicanes - to slow down traffic on cross streets
  • Less poles in the middle of the trails, or place a light illuminating the hazard.
  • Trees/Bushes as sound buffers from the Lakeshore traffic

Just some quick thoughts.

I'd like to see some kind of coordinated traffic lights for cyclists, so that we don't have to stop at every intersection with cars. Waiting for a red at the first light should set you up to cruise through greens for the rest (at most speeds).

Good luck with this.

Paint the roadway where the trail crosses to provide a visual reminder, to all parties (drivers, cyclists, pedestrians) that this part is "different", ie an intersection.

Put speed bumps on the road on either side of where the trail interesects the road. Too often drivers go right up to where the driveways interect with the road and then brake and look. But at that point they are sitting square in the crossing area for cyclists and pedestrians. A speed bump will force them to brake and look at the point where pedestrian/cyclists are in danger.

I agree with the suggestion that there should be vegetative planting between the trail and the path. Its no fun having to listen to and breath exhaust fumes from the traffic on Lakeshore Road.

No bollards, or at least not how they were designed at the Boulevard Club driveway/path interesection.

Yeah, why don't they put the bollards to regulate the more dangerous vehicles, less frequent traversers, and users more likely to need reminding that it is an intersection: IN FRONT OF THE CARS!?

Oh yeah, they have money and pull. Stupid me.

That trail alignment won't work. After the first half dozen cyclists are mown down by autoholics blowing through any stop/yield signs someone will conclude the solution is to punish the victims and force cyclists to dismount to cross the driveways. This will be done with signage and undoutedly double sets of bollards as at the Boulevard Club.
The solution is to use what is presently USED, ie the roadway linking up to the trail into Coronation Park as few driveways cross it. Autoholics are too ignorant to concede cyclists are capable of having a right of way. The one thing we have learned in creating usable working trails is the less vehicle traffic crossing them the better.
When will they get trail designers who actually cycle to design cycling infrastructure? Cyclists don't cycle to push their bikes!

I like the idea of straightening out the route, it shouldn't attempt to follow the water edge. Since it's along the Lakeshore the lighting will be better as well.

Let's keep vendors and benches well away from the path.

Let's have the intersections well defined, perhaps use stop lights as well. Bollards might make it safer, but don't go crazy with them so they are dangerous to navigate. Imagine each bike is pulling a load, is a longer recumbent or a wider trike.

Anything involved the possible interaction of cars and bicycles will need structure, and I'm not talking about yield signs. The idea of a trail intersecting with an entrance to Ontario Place is less than ideal. Why not build an overpass over tunnel rather than having the bike trail go through the entrance?

First, minimize intersections of the trail with the road. Where intersections can't be avoided, in the area near an intersection with the trail, set the trail back far enough from Lakeshore Blvd that turning cars will have a bit of room to turn off Lakeshore and slow down. Have stop signs for the cars, with the stop line set back a bit from the trail to improve sightlines. Give trail users the right of way at these stop signs. Slope the road up to trail level (I have seen this called a "speed table") to further slow down drivers and emphasize that they must yield to through traffic (i.e., the trail).

Remember that these trails are going to be used by children, inline skaters, elderly people, people pulling trailers or propelling wheelchairs...The diversity of use demands thoughtful and accommodating design. The ideas I have come mostly from my experience as a trail user, but I have also seen some of the design handbooks available (published in Canada, US, and Europe) and there are some interesting ideas and useful resources there. I'm going to be an optimist and say that I expect the waterfront trail design team is familiar with the pros and cons of the various design options and is thinking outside the bollards, so to speak.

Thank you for asking. I am glad to see this happening, as the current trail through Ontario Place is pretty horrible. It's a shame they feel such a need to waste all that land on surface parking. But to focus on this project:

First and foremost, the design of the trail needs to be consistent in terms of width, material, signage and striping with the other new sections of trail that have been built lately. The lack of uniformity on the MG trail is one of its biggest problems; it needs to have a strong, consistent identity so that everyone--cyclists, drivers and pedestrians--can recognize it at a glance. This will actually improve safety by promoting a common understanding of appropriate behaviour when using or crossing the trail.

Second, as other commenters have identified, the intersections are going to be a big problem. The trail only works if it can be used without stopping. Intersections must absolutely be minimized. I hope we will not see the trail zigzagging across existing roadways; I'm encouraged by the acknowledgement that roadways will need to be "adjusted."

The recent installation of extra bollards at the Boulevard Club is a safety hazard and unacceptable and must not be repeated; the other driveways in the area, with the older bollards, are almost as bad.

At Ontario Place Drive, bicyclists and joggers need to be given traffic signals with a timed phase for the trail itself. Left and right turns from Lakeshore absolutely must be prohibited except when the trail's signal phase is red. Truthfully, unless the traffic engineers refuse for some reason, this actually should not be that difficult.

The harder problem will be at the intersections with Remembrance Drive, which works sort of like a slip ramp taking traffic off and onto Lakeshore. I hope that the trail will be installed between Remembrance and Lakeshore, even if this means that part of Remembrance has to be shifted somewhat to the south; if the trail is to be installed south of Remembrance, this will lead to numerous conflicts with the parking lot operation.

Ideally, the intersection near the pedestrian bridge where Remembrance Drive merges eastbound into Lakeshore should be removed, and the vehicular traffic on Remembrance should be redirected into the east parking lot, where it can proceed to Ontario Place Drive to exit. If that's not possible, then a stop sign needs to be installed at the trail for vehicles exiting the parking lot on Remembrance. Remember: trail users should get priority; it is the vehicles that need to stop, look and then proceed if clear. If this is clearly understood, there will not be a need for bollards and the like.

The western Remembrance Drive/Ontario Drive/Lakeshore intersection should be regularized. Get rid of the eastbound ramp off Lakeshore and just turn it into a normal four-way intersection, controlled by a traffic light, with timed signals for the MG trail. Add a turn lane to stack right turning vehicles on eastbound Lakeshore if necessary. This will improve safety for everybody.

http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=1463530

This alignment reduces the number of roadway crossings. Keeping the trail on the south side of Remembrance Drive will substantially reduce conflict and provide space for motorvehicles intending to cross the trail space to stop before doing so. This also increases the buffer to Lakeshore Blvd.

I was very impressed with the improvements made to date, and look forward to improvements around Ontario Place. I REALLY look forward to the changes planned for Queen's Quay!

I spent a lot of time on the MG trail this past summer, both running an cycling. I would say that most cyclists and roller bladers use Remembrance Drive, for the section between the west end of Ontario Place and the main gate area, rather than following the twisty, narrow path along the water's edge and up and over the hump by the main gate.

Most runners seem to stick to the water's edge. They would continue to do so, even if this was not the designated MG route. I guress most runners are more interested in getting away from noise and traffic, rather than taking a direct route.

My suggestions would be:
1) Simplify the traffic flow through Ontario Place, and reduce the numbers of entrances and exits for parking, if possible. Especially consider removing the East-bound exit near the main gate pedestrian bridge.
2) Reduce the width of Remembrance Drive on the section by the Ontario Place western parking lot - essentially have Remembrance Drive simply a local access lane, instead of a through road. If it is possible given the parking needs, make it a one way lane, allowing for even further reduction in width.
3) Place a dedicated path in the space created by narrowing Remembrance Drive. Plant trees betwwen the path and the Lakeshore
4) Put a trail bridge over Ontario Place Blvd, and move the trail away away from the water.

Essentially, I like the route in the diagram, but would want to see a bridge over Ontario Place Blvd, and removal of a path/road intersection by the main gate.

I'm not down in this area too much to use it. But I do wish to improve it all by focussing on trimming the car use, as it's the biggest problem to our waterfront usage. This means we should take a harder line on providing transit instead of costly projects like the FSE, and even the WWLRT isn't a good enough deal. But if we did push the Harbourfront line through the Ex to loop down to Ontario Place, finally finally bringing transit to near its front door on the north side of hte Lakeshore at its pedestrian bridge, couldn't we also start using the vast areas of Ex parking for commuters who would then take transit?
And then push the tranist line out further along the Lakeshore to Etobicoke.
This isn't denying access to drivers to the core of the City, but we have to stop just allowing every single occupant vehicle easy access eh?

Thanks for asking for input. It would be great if you could raise the numerous problems that exist at the Strachan/Lakeshore intersection. City staff and councillors have been telling me for over 10 years now that they know about the problems and that the intersection will soon be improved. Yet there is still no indication that a solution is anywhere on the horizon. Strachan is an extremely important access point to/from the Martin Goodman trail yet it's clearly a substandard design for both pedestrians and cyclists. I've taken photos available at: http://picasaweb.google.com/nsmithlea/Strachan

While there are several problems at this intersection, the most significant one is that there is no legal way for cyclists to cross northbound exiting the MGT northbound on Strachan. A bicycle traffic light is needed for northbound cyclists. The only legal choice cyclists have is to cross with the pedestrians on the west side of the street after waiting for an insufferably long light, crossing multiple lanes of traffic, then negotiating with the traffic heading southbound on Strachan and turning right onto Lakeshore. Once across, it is then necessary to cross Strachan --again as a pedestrian -- in order to proceed northbound on Strachan. While preparing to leave the Martin Goodman trail it is possible to see the bike lane from there, and align yourself with it but there is no light that allows cyclists to cross legally in the proper position.

Nancy, I noticed the same problem.
I'm guessing most people just cross illegally in a direct line, it should be made safer.

You're right it needs improving. However, for the sake of your convenience and safety, for the next decade the best way to cross is far west through the Ontario Place bridge and the Exhibition Grounds, if you're coming from the west. As for coming from the east, the best bet may be via Fleet Street, but I am less familiar with that.

I really appreciate the time you've taken to provide such detailed feedback. Not only are these really useful comments, the volume and diversity of response is a real testament to the need for a safe and continuous route that provides right of way for active transport. Wish me luck at tomorrow's meeting... Cheers!

Just tell 'em Large Marge sent ya!