York Urbanist

Cycle the 400 Series Highways

May 30th, 2015

Why Cycle Lanes on 400 series highways?

  • Effective Use of land: Wasted space on the edges of highways requires MORE maintenance than the paved surfaces that could be trails. The highways have removed oxygen producing trees and shrubs, replacing them with grass, which is often mown. The asphalt of a cycle lane is not damaged like that of motorized vehicle lanes, so maintenance is minimal.
  • The direction cyclists want to go: Just as we in motorized vehicles want a stopless direct route to destinations, so to do cyclists.
  • Understanding Commuter cyclists: 400-series highways are built for commuters, although their primary purpose is to give access for delivery of goods from hinterlands to cities. Cyclists are also commuters.
  • Exiting Toronto fast: 400 series highways provide the most direct exit from the city and have available land on their edges.
  • Reduced grades: Although avid cyclists like the challenge of changes in grades, commuter cyclists are appreciative of the requirements of MTO to maintain grades at less than 5% inclines.
  • Positive reaction from cycling community: When this was raised in a workshop and on line, avid cyclists had to think for a moment. Yes, they said, this provides the opportunity to turn my recreation to a method of getting to work.
  • Puts planning in the provincial jurisdiction: Currently, the provision of cycling facilities is the purview of municipalities. As such, public consultation is limited to municipal boundaries, yet cyclists can travel 500km in one day, well beyond the jurisdiction of one city.
  • Raises awareness of Active Transportation: Volumes of drivers of motorized vehicles will see an alternative form of transportation as they sit in traffic. Meanwhile, cyclists continue unimpeded by other forms of transportation.

Where has this been done?

The public will be surprised that there already exist examples of highway related cycling facilities. The idea of cycling routes parallel to motorized routes may seem like a foreign concept. However the following list will surprise you. Let us start with more progressive jurisdictions off-shore

  • Australia roadside cycling routeAustralia is well known for its support of athletics and health. This lane is associated with an 80km/hr speedway. Apparently, avid cyclists can feel comfortable in this association.






  • Amsterdam roundaboutAmsterdam, Netherlands: The reaction from the uninitiated is, ‘well that’s because cycling is ingrained in their culture’. I respond that it is because cycling facilities have been incorporated into their transportation systems. Chicken and Egg? This example shows distinct and separated bike lanes on the outside, yet they continue to have crossings that allow motorists the right of way. A curious example has been circulating the social media that shows an elevated cycle facility at traffic circles. https://bicycledutch.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/turbo-roundabout.jpg

what's the point of cycle lanes



  • QEW Niagara service roadQEW Niagara was part of the Great Waterfront Trail Adventure for years. Although an unpleasant straight ride for this recreation ride, it is straight and allows for commuter cyclists to travel the same route as motorists.



  • Toronto Waterfront TrailToronto, Is there a more travelled route than the Gardiner/Lakeshore? Toronto created the Waterfront Trail to provide for primarily commuter cyclists who find their way to work much faster than the routes that regularly make the 680 traffic at the ones report. 5m wide this route is so well used that rules have needed to be created for its use, summer and winter.


  • Rosehill cycle separation productRosehill products in the UK can be used to establish the safety that transportation engineers use to scare away cycling facilities from the public realms.


See also:




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