Friday, October 27, 2006

Markham installs Bike Route signs!

This morning, following my usual route, what do I see as I cross north over Steeles Avenue? A Bicycle Route sign stood prominently on the side of the road, poking up over top of municipal election placards. As I reached John Street, there were more Bike Route signs, along with an aspiring councillor smiling and waving to people in their cars.

This is Bike Friday, the October edition, by the way. I started my route at the Yonge and Lawrence meeting point, but I was alone this time. No problem. It gave me a chance to read some Eye Magazine.

Back to the Bike Routes. I didn't see any particular signage at Bayview Avenue. They might have been there, but I was too focused on the SUV trying to tailgate me on a left turn through a yellow light.

I only take Bayview Avenue for about 100 metres though. Green Lane was next, and it too had Bike Route signs! A significant part of my commute route through Markham is now official Bike Route. This is all part of Markham's Bicycle Network construction (pdf).

Green Lane also featured a waving town council candidate, this time the incumbent. She was busy talking to a couple people. If I see her again, I think I'll stop and talk to her. She must have played a part in Markham's progress, afterall.

Depending on your cycling experiences, you might say "It's just a few signs. What's the point?" I would respond that this is a valuable first step. Not only can these lead to better or more extensive bicycle infrastructure in certain places, but the simple designation of Bike Routes is significant. This means the city has recognized that these roads are being used by cyclists. If some proposal is tabled to make these roads into 4-lane arterials or to increase the speed limits, I don't have to start from scratch trying to convince them that these are important to cyclists. It also makes it clear where the sort of "walls" in the network are for inexperienced cyclists. (more discussion here)

Not only does Markham have Bike Route signs, but there is evidence that part of my commute will feature an actual bike lane. I'm going to start carrying my camera so I'm ready for the day they arrive. It happens that the bike lane will be on a road that I feel comfortable on anyways, but I still like the idea. I think it'll help out at night and for the people who don't really know where to position their cars. Those drivers do exist.

This will be the only piece of Bike Lane or Bike Path (or even signed bike route) on my entire 17 km commute through Toronto, Markham and a tiny bit of Richmond Hill. I used to think that Toronto's bicycle network would slowly filter out into the surrounding towns of York Region, but it's starting to look like the flow will be in the other direction.

Darren J 10/27/2006 12:05:00 PM

5 Comments:

Good to see that at least one municipality is making some changes. Things remain stagnant in Richmond Hill.

The signs that are up are old, rusty and teeny (about 20cm dia) compared to the usual roadway signs. I still don't have a safe way from Leslie/16th to Woodbine/16th.
I was on a road in Toronto I don't remember which and it had bike symbol with a "shared lane" sign. I'm thinking hmm this is an ambiguous sign. Is it trying to tell the cyclists they should share the lane with motorists (side by side?) or just trying to alert motorists that cyclists may be sharing the lane in which case it really applies everywhere.
Yeah, I agree that "Shared Lane" isn't a good sign message. We definitely don't want more drivers angry at us for using roads that aren't marked "shared lane".

How does the Sharrow fit into that?
Great Blog - I'll be back often. I am a big fan of Biking it's great source of exercise. I take my Folding Bike everywhere.
I think the shared lane dealio is a way to remind drivers that the street is an "Official" bicycle route. It does seem redunant, but perhaps useful as a reminder that there might be increased bicycle traffic on marked streets?

Perhaps just a bicycle route sign, similar to the city would be more appropriate. These are better suited to guiding riders than alerting drivers.

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