Tuesday, October 18, 2005

York Region Bike Network?

I have seen bike paths up in Newmarket. And as I mentioned in a previous post, there is the odd (very odd) path here in the south end of York Region. There are no paths to connect any town to any other town, or any consideration for cyclists making safe practical trips involving crossing expressways, etc. If all the roads were cracked farming roads with speed limits of 60 km/h, that would be fine, but those roads are becoming more and more scarce in York Region. Is York Region making some first steps?

Here's a story on the subject from the local paper.

It doesn't sound like anything definitive is happening. The statistics given aren't very meaningful since cycling is combined with walking. (Does the reporter realize that if there were a 7% cycling rate, York Region would be leading Canada?) At least someone is talking. If York Region went ahead with bike paths and lanes connecting the suburban areas, it would be very progressive compared to other areas around here, and it has the potential to create comfortable commuting for 8 or 9 months of the year.

I thought this was a good tidbit of information from Mr. Cheah in the article:
"Mr. Cheah also cited a 1998 Environics study showing 66 per cent of Canadians would cycle 30 minutes or more to work if cycling lanes were available."

And that was in 1998, when gas was practically free.

There is the potential for York Region to be a model of smart transportation. That sounds crazy if you see traffic in the area now. But with the recent investments in public transit combined with a real cycling infrastructure, changes could be dramatic.

If you go to the downtown of Toronto (and other cities), the number of cyclists you see around you goes way up. As well as being an amateur city planner, I'm also an amateur sociologist (who performs no actual studies). My studies prove that the reason there are more cyclists in the core of the cities is because residents have the option to use public transit when cycling isn't practical. This gives them the capability to live without a car very comfortably. So cycling and public transit go hand.

In the case of York Region, further improvements in infrastructure could allow many households to go from 2-car to 1-car. This all depends on a certain amount of density in housing and places of employment. With the right decisions, we could be living in cycling paradise in 5 years. (Or maybe none of this public spending matters.)

Darren J 10/18/2005 12:16:00 p.m.


If York Region was smart (and Toronto too), they'd build the bike trails along all the hydro corridors that are seemingly everywhere. It's a lot easier politically (no drivers complaining about lost road space) and cheaper maintenance-wise (pavement travelled by bikes lasts a LOT longer than that travelled by cars). That article mentions making Kennedy a sort of "bike-only" route, which is good in theory to use as a commuting route to the city, but if you live at, say, St.Johns sideroad & Yonge and you work at Finch & Yonge... you're expected to go wayyyy over to Kennedy to find a safe route south?

It's crazy and impractical in practice.
The hydro corridor (that is a power-line corridor for anyone who doesn't speak Ontarian) idea makes so much sense it's crazy! They're usually very direct, and cross entire regions.

Toronto has the Finch Hydro Corridor Path going in, but for whatever reason it will take quite a bit of time to design and install. If all goes well at the budget meetings this fall/winter, it'll still take 3 more years to be complete. I think the highway crossings are the big hurdles. This is definitely the way to go.

As for the Kennedy Rd (or other) dedicated bike road, I can't imagine it. The disapproval would be high, especially if a more central road was chosen. And if Kennedy were chosen, it's so far out of the way (for the bulk of our population that lives between Bathurst and Leslie) that the main supporters of such a road designation must be recreational speed bike riders. That doesn't get us much further ahead.
Joe, your comment came through on my site administrator email, but is not showing up here. I don't get it. Did you link to a competitor to the Great Google Corp?
Since you said you couldn't find details on the Finch Hydro Corridor path, I found some links.

The Finch Hydro Corridor is just north of Finch and crosses the entire city. The bike path would include installation of bridges to cross the 404 and 400. You can see it if you look in the map found here. Make sure you click on the "View the Bikeway Network" link at the top of the page, not on the regular bike map.
(it's big)

And the schedule for this is entirely dependent on politics, so it's worth writing letters in the next few weeks. You can see the schedule of budget decisions and the Finch Hydro Corridor Bike Path written up here by Martin Koob:
Download the Bike Plan 3 Year Strategy Report.
Thanks Darren. I wonder if the City has been talking with Hydro One about this. It would be fantastic having one there. It would also be cool to have a north-south one from the city to York Region. We rent a car once every couple months and hang out with the Claytons up in Aurora, but I'd love to cycle up there every once in a while, and not have many near misses on York Region roads.
And what was the picture you were linking to before? I don't know how anything at Blogger works, but maybe your earlier comment got rejected because of that link.
Well, that's weird. I came by here last night and the comment was here. It was just a photo of a paved bike path under hydro lines somewhere. Not sure from where.

Thanks for putting a MAP button on your site.
My pleasure! Thanks for creating MAP.
Well, hey... someone's gotta do something about the air quality... instead of just protesting, which seems to never work. I'm hoping people think with their wallets as much as I think they do... :) Good news coming soon in the MAPnews section. I'll hopefully have something up there by early next week.
I think while 66% of Canadians SAY they would cycle 30+ min to work IF there were bike lanes, I think much fewer would do it in practice. (easier to talk the talk than walk the walk) People find other excuses. I know a few avid cyclists that don't bike to work (but would not have a problem with the routes) because they don't want to get to work sweaty.

In terms of cycling in the core, it makes sense that public transit helps this - but I think the main reason there are more cyclists downtown is its just plain cycle-friendlier. Its not designed around the car, so the buildings are pleasantly on a human scale rather than large montrosities set back with huge parking lots from the street. Congestion and narrow roads means the speed differntial between cars and bikes is low. In the suburbs its very daunting to ride on busy roads with 80 km/h traffic whizzing by.
Hey Darren, so happy to find your website when I typed in "bicycle" and "York Region." As someone who is hoping to become a ped/bike planner someday I found your observations and insights very interesting. Thought I'd let you know that York Region is holidng its first public consultation for a Regional Pedestrian and Cycling Master Plan (May 30th/May 31st) - it's about time!!
hey! great site! i'll be addint you to my links later today. i'm trying to start a committee or group up here in York region to address the lack of consideration for us. keep in touch and i'll do likewise! thanks darren for the heads up!
i mean, darryl. anyways, i'll be at the meeting on the 30th and/or 31st.
Ah yes, York Region. Paying lip service to getting people out of their cars. I would bicycle to work, after all it's only 11kms away, but I'd rather live, then ride along Hwy 7 morning and afternoon. People very often go well over 100kms/hr on the stretch of highway 7 I travel on my way to/from work. I'm not willing to risk my life to save the environment with people driving over 100kms/h just inches from my elbow.

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