Cyclists ride along the Rideau Canal in Ottawa. Photo courtesy of ottawatourism.ca
Bike Plans in Other Cities: Mississauga, Ottawa, Waterloo and London
By Claire McFarlane
For the latest edition of Bike Plans in Other Cities, we decided to explore plans from some of Ontario's smaller cities that could potentially serve as inspiration for the revamping of Toronto's bike plan. You can also read about other cities' bike plans in our latest issue of dandyhorse, the bike plan election issue.
If you have never though of the Toronto suburb of Mississauga as a cycle-friendly city, it’s because it isn’t… not quite yet, but they are getting there. In 2010, over 1,000 Mississauga citizens pulled their ideas together to create the Mississauga Cycling Master Plan, which aims to be fully implemented by 2030. The master plan’s primary goal is to “foster a culture where cycling is an everyday activity” and to produce over 900 km of on-road and off-road cycling routes so that 95% of the population is within 1 km of a "primary route". The city hopes to achieve their goals through promotion in schools, through the support of cycle-related activities and through the education of potential cyclists.
Mississauga's existing cycling route network.
Mississauga's proposed cycling route network.
Although there is still work to be done in terms of urban cycling in Mississauga, the city already boasts over 12 different paved and unpaved trails - great for biking - that range from 2 km in length to nearly 22 km.
In September, the city will also be hosting the 7th annual Tour de Mississauga, organized by the Mississauga Cycling Advisory Committee, which attracts cyclists from all over the area. The non-competitive ride that explores the city’s trails offers routes for cyclists of all skill levels, from 15 km to 100 km distances.
Although Ottawa has one of the most scenic bike paths along the Rideau Canal, they also have an increasingly progressive outlook on urban cycling infrastructure. Ottawa was also the first city in Ontario to install a protected bike lane (on Laurier). The bike lane even has an online counter that tracks total trips at one intersection. Cool! In the 2013 Ottawa Cycling Plan, it is noted that in order for most people to choose biking over other forms of transportation, they must have dedicated and comfortable facilities (bike lanes on streets with low speed limits for motorists, functional and convenient bike parking etc.). It was also mentioned that obviously, reconstructing every roadway wouldn’t be a viable option. The solution? The Ultimate Network Concept (aka the UNC, is featured on page 67 of Ottawa Cycling Plan). The UNC would create a network of cycling routes that would eventually cover the entire city from major arterial routes that would connect the suburbs to the downtown core to smaller routes for local cyclists. The cycling plan also outlines efforts to support a “bike-ride-walk” model that would make it easier for people to use transit for a portion of their commute. The goal was also set for 50% of peak period (rush hour) trips to be taken by sustainable modes of transportation by 2031, reducing the number cars on the road and easing congestion.
Despite the fact that London, Ontario's Bicycle Master Plan has not been updated in nearly 10 years, the city has since been able to make small changes in terms of infrastructure that can make a huge difference for cyclists. Three "bike boxes" were recently installed in major interactions across the city. These green markers on the street look a lot like ones that can be found on Sherbourne (which is a green semi-separated lane) and serve the same purpose at the bike boxes found on Harbord near U of T in Toronto and serve as an aid to cyclists passing through intersections and allow for motorists to acknowledge their presence on the street. The city of London also offers a helpful brochure that helps both cyclists and motorists better understand bike lanes.
In 2011, the Share the Road Cycling Coalition awarded Waterloo with a silver Bike Friendly Communities Award for their efforts in improving the city for cyclists and in supporting bike-friendly culture. The city also has some new and very interesting ideas for bike parking. They recently introduced four bicycle lockers outside the Uptown Parkade (a six-storey parking garage) that are available to rent for $10 a month. Although they may not be the most space-efficient design for a larger city like Toronto, they do save commuter cyclists sitting at their desks all day from worrying about having parts stolen off their bikes.
Bike lockers outside the Uptown Parkade
Waterloo recently implemented their first ever Bike Box which is slightly different than London's version. At Waterloo's Davenport Road, lines are painted on the road that direct cyclists to a designated waiting area (the "box") for when the traffic light is red which is situated in front of motorized vehicles. That way, when the light turns green, (brave) cyclists are the first to turn left. This increases visibility for cyclists and makes drivers more aware of cyclists that are turning.
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