This is the second of three blog posts I will make about cycling in, or near, the Dixie Road corridor, and the various cycling facilities, or lack thereof.
- Dixie Road Cycling Facilities North of Bovaird Drive
- Bramalea GO Station to Clark Boulevard (Bramalea City Centre) along Dixie Road
- Clark Boulevard to Bovaird (Chinguacousy Trail)
Dixie Road is a regional road. The planning and construction is done by Peel Region, rather than by the City of Brampton. Brampton is responsible for maintenance once construction is complete, for both the road and the sidewalks and multi-use paths.
The Region of Peel is currently engaged in widening Dixie Road to three lanes in each direction. At the same time they are replacing the sidewalk on the west side, from Clark Boulevard to 400 metres north of Steeles.
The intersections where Dixie Road crosses Steeles Avenue and Bovaird Drive were reconstructed prior to a general road widening to allow for Brampton Transit’s Zum buses to travel in a reserved queue jump lane through intersections. At that time no multi-use path was installed .
I had a conversation with staff at the Region of Peel about the pointlessness of infrastructure that just ends 400 metres north of a major intersection, especially on a road with the volumes of car and especially, truck traffic, that is carried on Dixie. They agreed to look into the feasibility of continuing the path south to Steeles while construction crews were still on site and I am pleased to report that I have been told that is exactly what will happen.
Victory for advocacy. Thanks to Regional staff for listening and acting.
In April, I attended my first Ontario Bike Summit, courtesy of the City of Brampton. It was educational to hear what other cities are doing. One item that was of particular interest to me was that Metrolinx provided funding for the Spur Line trail in Waterloo in order to improve Active Transportation infrastructure leading to GO and Via Trains.
In a board meeting presentation last year Metrolinx explained:
- Designs for station facilities will be guided by both the way travel modes are used today and policies intended reduce dependency on single-occupancy vehicles and towards more sustainable modes.
- While investments will be made across all travel modes, those needed to achieve the shift towards more sustainable modes will be prioritized.
Currently only 1% of riders cycle to GO rail service and I suspect the percentage that cycle to Bramalea GO Station is far lower than that, despite the fact that they have covered bike parking at both the north and south lots. Metrolinx states that, “Incentives to encourage and significantly increase cycling are needed (e.g. improved cycling routes and environment, secure bike parking, bike share, etc.)”.
Watching the Region improve cycling infrastructure along Dixie Road, hearing about Waterloo receiving $1.2M for their Spur Line Trail and knowing the proximity of of Bramalea GO station to the Dixie multi-use trail and one of Brampton’s few legal on-street bike lanes (Birchbank Road) led me to explore how all these elements could be connected. I hope that by writing this blog I can inspire the City of Brampton, the Region of Peel and Metrolinx to work together to create an active transportation connection to Bramalea GO, a station on a very busy road in the middle of industrial lands, but not too far from some residential areas and existing AT infrastructure.
Let’s explore Dixie Road moving south from Clark Boulevard.
Here, the sidewalk has been preserved and a multi-use path added between the curb and sidewalk. The pole in the foreground is a temporary one, but it is not clear whether or not the multi-use path will continue north to Clark.
Continuing south, you can see the sidewalk has been removed and a wide multi-use path installed from curb to property line.
I prefer the treatment in this section where the “salt strip” or snow storage area is constructed of a different material. I have not been able to get an answer as to why this is done is some places but not others, even along the same path, although it does tend to be at intersections, but sometimes extends quite far from the intersection.
As you can see this section does not use pressed concrete for the salt strip, but expects users to somehow magically understand that the metre adjacent to the curb is not considered part of the multi-use path. In this picture I am standing at the northern end of the Rogers campus at the entrance to the south end of the Esker Lake Trail which is shown in the next image.
This is a nice connection here, and the Esker Lake trail will be getting Brampton’s first Active Transportation-only crossing of Highway 410, when the Franceschini Bridge, between Williams Parkway and Bovaird, which used to be used to access a gravel quarry, is opened later this year. Unfortunately, the Esker Lake trail leaves much to be desired, but I will address that in another post.
This section differentiates salt strip and path.
I am not sure how this bus stop will be handled. In the first picture in this blog, you can see that a concrete bus pad was laid on which a shelter could be erected. Something else to note is that about 100 metres south of here is a Tim Hortons/Wendy’s. I hope that signage is installed to indicate that drivers should expect cyclists and not to stop on the path. When I approached from the south, a driver was stopped on the path and looking north for a gap to turn right into, with never a glance to the south to see if anyone on the path was approaching. Had I not stopped and waited I am fairly certain I would have been in front of him and crashed into when he turned. This will be a common occurrence here, as drivers will not be permitted to turn left, and will therefore not look to their right before pulling out.
This image is looking back north towards Orenda Road on the left and Birchbank Road on the right. There is a legal bike lane on Birchbank.
Continuing south from Orenda toward the Chrysler dealership.
The road was widened enough under the rail bridge for the path to continue and it dips less than the road making it easier to traverse. A sign should be installed where the material changes to concrete and the width narrows to indicate bikes welcome, but caution needed. I saw this sign on Castlemore Road.
As one emerges from underneath the bridge the path comes to an end about 400 metres north of Steeles.
This is where, I have been told by Regional staff, they have determined that it is feasible to extend the path to Steeles Avenue.
Now let’s address getting to Bramalea GO Station.
The red line on the map shows the trail gap which the region needs to complete to Steeles.
The blue line shows the route to the south lot bike parking at Bramalea GO. This route is 2km from the Steeles/Dixie intersection (north route).
The green line shows the route to the north lot bike parking at Bramalea GO and runs along Steeles. It is 1.2km from the Steeles/Dixie intersection (south route).
Steeles and Dixie is a very large intersection, with six through lanes of traffic on each road plus left and right turn lanes.
So, there are two options for getting to the GO station. While the route to the north lot along Steeles is shorter, it requires a trip up and over the rail bridge, which which be challenging for some cyclists. The space available for a multi-use path is also more constrained, particularly over the crest of the bridge. I didn’t take pictures along here, but when I go back to check out the 400m gap north of Steeles I will do so and provide an update.
My preference, and the one I have pictured below, is the route to the south lot via Dixie, Advance and Alfred Kuehne, which, while longer, is flat and once off Dixie, the road allowances are wide and traffic relatively light.
This is looking north from Advance Boulevard. If the sidewalk were removed as it has been north of Steeles, a multi-use path could be installed.
In this image I am facing east looking across Dixie at Advance.
On Advance there is a sidewalk on the north side of the road and nothing on the south. By observing where the fire hydrant is you can see there is plenty of room for a multi-use path adjacent to the road. The other possibility here is a bike lane if the curb-to-curb allowance would accommodate it.
Alfred Kuehne also has a sidewalk on the north side of the road and nothing on the south, with plenty of room for a multi-use path adjacent to the road.
This is the only potential pinch point, but the bridge rails are probably high enough to allow bikes to travel over the sidewalk here with a warning to yield to pedestrians. If not, they could be replaced.
The driveway to the south GO parking lot is wide and could probably accommodate a bike lane.
And, there is already a nice covered bike shelter awaiting cyclists.
The City of Brampton is currently undertaking an exercise to create an Active Transportation Master Plan and will not want to make any significant investments in the 18 months it will take to complete. However, I would argue that this is a project that could be undertaken in the meantime and that by partnering with Peel Region and Metrolinx the cost could be shared and manageable.