This design study is an opportunity to really think about what kind of bike/pedestrian infrastructure we want.
York Road between Victoria Road and Watson Road, is undergoing an Environmental design study, The purpose of the study is to improve the road for all users….those who drive cars, trucks, ride bikes, or use their sneakers to get around.
To save time and money, the original Environmental Assessment that was done in 2007, is being used to determine the design for the road. This design will impact road use for the next several decades, so a closer look at the details are in order.
Here are the design improvements that are listed on the website:
- Widening York Road from two to four traffic lanes
- Adding a bicycle lane (1.5 metres wide), sidewalk, curb and gutter on the north side
- Adding a bicycle lane (1.5 metres wide) and shoulder on the south side of York Road
- Adding sidewalk, curb and gutter from Victoria Road to the Elizabeth Street intersection, and from the entrance at 919 York Road to the eastern City limits
- Adding traffic lights at the intersection of York Road and Elizabeth Street, adding a southbound left turn lane and realigning Elizabeth Street to meet York Road at 90 degrees (perpendicular)
- Closing the Beaumont Crescent entrances onto York Road (properties along Beaumont Crescent and Cityview Drive will access York Road via Elizabeth Street)
How is York Road being used now?
This section of York Road is unique. It serves a purpose for just about everybody.
- It serves as Highway 7 to get cars and trucks in and out of Guelph.
- It serves as a gateway to Guelph from Guelph-Eramosa Township. Along the way, it passes alongside a “Provincially Significant” heritage property, known as the Ontario Reformatory, including a heritage stone wall constructed by the inmates. It is also home to some beautiful parkland, a couple of relaxing small ponds, and the scenic Clythe Creek.
- This section of York Road will also host a commercial district located between Victoria and Elizabeth Street.
- York Road is also a gateway to the booming east end development that will significantly increase the density of the area. While that means more vehicle traffic, it will (hopefully) increase foot traffic and bike traffic as well.
Bike lane as painted line, or is it time for something better?
So, how should we accommodate people on bikes in the area?
A painted line, as is currently planned, is better than no bicycle infrastructure, for sure. I ride on roads with painted bike lanes, but I admit to getting a little nervous riding beside big trucks, especially on a windy day.
Now, what would stop the city from considering a multi-use path, particularly on the south side of York Road? There are almost no driveways to speak of to make it dangerous for bikes. A multi-use path in this location would allow for a scenic, pleasurable bike ride or stroll beside the creek or parkland. Right now, no pedestrian infrastructure is included on this side of York Road, so a multi use path could be considered for both.
The north side of York Road is a bit trickier to fit a multi-use path as there are more driveways. How about buffered lanes instead of just a painted line? Coloured demarcations aka “fresh kermit” paint could be of use too.
These issues are always complex and there are no easy answers. But at least we can let the City know that people on bikes and in sneakers want to ride and walk in safety and comfort. In so doing, road congestion can be reduced by riding and walking instead of driving.
Perhaps you can help with your own creative suggestions for accommodating cycling and walking on this stretch of road!
Have your say
Please add your voice to this discussion in the comments. Better yet, please come to the open house on Feb 23 at City Hall, 6-8pm. If you can’t do that, follow the link to the bottom for other alternative to add your voice. http://guelph.ca/living/environment/environment-planning/environmental-assessments/york-road-environmental-design-study/