School safety audit for improved Queens Quay

Queens Quay has been blazing trails in more ways than one.

The street has been transformed into a “complete street” that can and has been safely accessed by all types of users (pedestrians, cyclists, motorists) since its unveiling on June 19, according to Waterfront Toronto representatives at their community update meeting on Oct. 14.

The Queens Quay revitalization, a three-year construction project that concluded in June, has improved infrastructure and established visual and tactile cues (such as signage, trail markings and different pavement textures) to encourage a variety of uses.

“We’re certainly noticing that people are adapting to the new street typology Queens Quay represents,” said Waterfront Toronto project manager Pina Mallozzi, “We are seeing a drastic improvement in the way that people are watching out for each other and for cyclists.”

These cues have successfully prompted many commuters to use Queens Quay as a “complete street.” Cyclists in particular have embraced these changes. According to recent bicycle counts, Queens Quay sees over 400 bicycles each hour, making it the most heavily used bicycle trail in Toronto.

“Ultimately as a cyclist, you look for the fastest, safest way to get where you’re going. When you provide that, it fills up…and that’s a good thing because every bike that’s on the street is not a car and it’s an empty seat on a streetcar,” said Waterfront Toronto communications director Andrew Hilton.

“We just took care of Queens Quay, but we know that when you plan communities and you allow for everyone to use the streets, you generally get a very positive response. We hope that seeing these [bicycle count] numbers, decision makers will look at this and say, ‘this is something we should look to replicate.’”

However, Waterfront Toronto still has work to do. Many neighbouring citizens said some of the cues around the bicycle paths need to be stronger. Others said work on areas west of Spadina—including the area around the Waterfront School—was rushed, unfinished and unsafe and that many children attending the school and community centre risk their lives on their daily commutes.

In response, representatives from Waterfront Toronto offered to meet and walk the streets with the Waterfront School to determine how to respond their concerns.

“This is a very unique street…We’re doing some of the best streetscape design I’ve seen around the world,” said Waterfront Toronto’s planning and design vice president Christopher Glaisek, “Queens Quay is a different culture on the street and we all have to try to understand that because these types of streets are going to be more and more present in all of our lives and in cities across the world.”

Nov 2015