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Suburban Cycling Infrastructure in Aurora (Part 1 of 2)

I’m going to devote the next two posts to some present (and potential) cycling infrastructure in one part of Toronto’s suburbs.

We have friends who live on the outskirts of Aurora, which is on the outskirts of the “Greater Toronto Area”. In other words, the edge of suburbia.

I sometimes get sick going up there because their neighbourhood (which was farmers fields at the turn of the millenium) is right beside huge plots of hundreds of acres of land, being scraped off in preparation of new wasteful subdivisions.

Anyhow, on this trip to suburbia, I took along the camera to take photos of the cycling infrastructure I had noticed:

I’ll start with the good – actual paved paths for cyclists between the sidewalk and the road (specifically, Bayview Ave. between Wellington and St. John’s Sideroad) which helps hugely with safety. Although the posted speed limit here is 60 km/h, the real speed along here is about 80 km/h, with it not being rare to see cars going close to 100 km/h.

The bad part of these paths is that there is nothing special where they cross roads – no differently coloured pavement, or bricked walkways, or anything.

Getting into the actual subdivision where our friends live, there is a big hydro corridor cutting through it (itself a subject of controversy among those who think electricity causes cancer). This hydro corridor extends from close to Barrie down through northern York Region, where it essentially comes down to Toronto close to Highway 404, before meeting up (near Eglinton & Victoria Park) with what I believe is called the Sagueney Hydro Corridor (which goes all the way to Quebec).

Whenever I see this hydro corridor I think of the missed opportunity to have a dedicated cycling path from northern York Region all the way to Eglinton.

While it may be too much to ask people to commute by bike from Aurora to Toronto – the possibility of going from Aurora to Markham, or Markham to Toronto is quite doable. The recreational cyclists would love it too.

Part Two is about bikelanes in Aurora subdivisions.

  • Andrew

    Hydro corridors (and utility corridors in general) are definitely a missed opportunity. The problem is not necessarily limited to local and regional governments however. Transmission corridors are owned and operated by Hydro One and they are notoriously difficult to deal with regarding use of their easements.

    I also think from a technical standpoint that street crossings would be a challenge. I’m thinking of something like a crosswalk or an actual traffic signal to allow bikes/pedestrians to cross busy streets to get to different segments of the trailway.

    On the up side of the new construction in Aurora, at least it looks as if they are actually building bike lanes and other infrastructure as part of the development. I think this makes a lot more sense than trying to redesign and retrofit streets after the fact.

    Markham’s cycling plan includes a path along the utility corridor from about Hwy 7 to 19th Ave. (http://www.markham.ca/markham/resources/cpac_newsletter_060629.pdf). I’m not sure what Aurora is doing, but I will bring this opportunity up at the next Regional cycling master plan study meeting.

  • Vic

    There are other off-road pathways along some other major roads around here.

    Eglinton Ave. in Etobicoke has one, which I’ve used a couple of times. Parts of it have been re-paved recently. I kind of like this one, although it’s a bit zig-zaggy and hilly in places, where the road isn’t. It can be faster in some places during traffic jams too.

    Then of course there’s the “Burnhamthorpe Trail” in Mississauga….which I really don’t like, except for maybe a few places. More of my commentary on that one here.

    Like both of you mentioned already, the intersections are the big problem. Cyclists aren’t legally allowed to cycle through the crosswalks, and it’s dangerous anyway because turning cars can’t see you nearly as well as on the road. It’s a total right-hook setup….you have to slow right down (and get off your bike!) at every intersection.

    It’s unfortunate that many cycling facilities take cyclists out of traffic but make their routes longer, less convenient, and dangerous at intersections.

  • tt

    The possibility of biking between towns like Aurora and Markham… Why, that would be just like the uber-successful Route Vetre in Quebec, but in Ontario!! When I was a tourtist enjoying a small bit of the extensive QC bike path network, I could see it was clearly well used by people going to and from work, school etc…
    There’s no reason why we can’t have it in Ontario too.
    I’m thinking that the pols need to be convinced of the MEGA BUCKS they can rake in with tourism with a bike network.
    Hydro One is a problem…much like CN – both jealously guard their property (they make too much $$ methinks from leasing…) but, as Joe has said to me before – perhaps they can be wooed with the promise of free advertising and better utility roads for their trucks…
    Another idea is using organizations outside of – or at arms-length of – the ‘regular’ politics (ie Province to City) such as the TRCA – The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. The TRCA has had great success in getting the WAterfront trail, in the CN Kingston Sub East happening. I haven’t done much research into this (YET!!) but maybe groups like Evergreen (already working with the West Toronto Railpath) might be instrumental in getting some of these other missed opportunities STARTED.

  • Katrina


    I recently got a job in Aurora, near Wellington & Yonge. I live in Toronto, near Yonge & Bloor. I would LOVE to be able to bike to or from work a couple times per week, but I have been unable to find a suitable route. I biked straight down Yonge street a few days ago and was met with gravel/ no sides to a road that at times felt like a highway. It was pretty scary. I Google Mapped it and got routes with 70-80 turns, and I am sure to get lost. Can anyone recommend a fairly simple, safe route so that I can bike home?
    Feel free to e-mail me at ytredfg@live.ca with any ideas.

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