Good intentions in conflict on Trillium MUP

The City has done a wonderful job of landscaping the multi-use pathway extension along the Trillium line, from Young Street to Carling Avenue. The Trillium MUP is now fully functional. It opens up new, safe, relaxing walking and cycling corridors.

I am especially impressed with the no-expense-spared landscaping of deciduous and coniferous trees, and sodded verges. Such a contrast to the parsimoniousness  of earlier neighbourhood projects.


above: the start of the newest phase is obvious: sod, trees, fresh asphalt …


The City has in the past seemed indecisive as to how paths should be built and work. Many of these issues have been resolved in the latest pathway.

Sometimes though all the good intentions clash with each other.

For example, the paths do not connect to adjacent stub-end street sidewalks. Is a jurisdictional issue (pathway silo vs sidewalk silo)? Or some sort of disabilities legalities (required slopes, ramp intersections, etc) or even a traffic issue (can’t figure out how to do the join … so just ignore it?):


above: the tell-tale well-worn pathways of pedestrian and cyclist desire lines are written in the sod …



Above: couldn’t someone figure out how to connect the sidewalk to the recreational and pathway space?

The spacing of the big stone bollards prevents car access, but in most cases also blocks wheelchair, stroller, tricycle, and walker access too. It is possible to cycle between most of them, but very slowly since there is a high risk of catching a pedal on the stone and taking a fall.

I feel sad every time I see those sidewalks ending without a connection: so near and yet so far …

Where there are intersections, such as at Hickory-Adeline’s pretty new bridge, the intersection seems complicated and not terribly intuitive to users.


It’s not consistent either with the intersection design at the older Young Street ped bridge, where the pathway and sidewalks simply … meet:


I do want innovation, experimentation, and continuous improvement … yet I chafe a bit at the inconsistencies and variability along the same pathway.

I do wonder if anyone will actually mow that sod to keep it looking like grass, or if the City intends to treat it the same way the first phase of Trillium pathway from Bayview to Young Street, which is rough mowed once a year in some places, and in others not mowed at all:


The bedraggled verge isn’t helped by the runners insisting on running beside the path, just like the dirt trenches along side most NCC pathways. Is the hard packed dirt really softer than asphalt? (in other countries I’ve seen the extra-just-for-runners 18″ edge of the path paved in rubber chips. But they didn’t have winter plowing either.).


I think a big part of the maintenance issue is the non-status of pathways in the City hierarchy. The parks dept doesn’t want them. They aren’t roads. They seem to fall into the “real property” lands group, which doesn’t appear to do maintenance … With the result that even sodded areas, like the slope shown below, turn into useless thorn beds:


Maybe there is a policy of letting new landscaping go to weed  naturalize.

I gather the parks portfolio of the city is undergoing a strategic review. Is it time to assign them responsibility for a new type of park: linear parks, corridors, and trails? Some of these get way more use than traditional parks which get a lot more TLC.

With that responsibility would come some sort of classification of high-use well-groomed urban pathway, lower-use roughly-groomed pathway, and un-groomed woodlot type pathway.


Above: a most unwelcome sight at the Hickory Bridge, P-gates were just installed at the eastern end of the bridge.

While we do want to keep heavy vehicles off the bridge, and there are certain vehicle drivers that will try to use a ped bridge for their car … the P-gates create  new problems.

The advisory committees and community fought long and hard to have the new Hickory bridge made much wider than the city originally proposed. A narrow bridge would likely have required cyclists to dismount. We wanted a wide bridge that could be shared comfortably by peds and cyclists and dogwalkers all at the same time. But the wide bridge is frustrated by gates at each end that force all users onto a single narrower channel. Only to then step out onto the elaborate user-separated intersection of the paths and sidewalks at the eastern end.

It seems to me the various elements of the design, individually solving one issue or conflict, created new ones. They just don’t work together.

Here’s the P-gates at the Beech crossride(similar but no-crossride design at Gladstone): I find I prefer to ride around them rather than between the gates, as did this rider off to yoga class:


and look ! the gates didn’t keep the vehicles off the path, a big truck simply went around the gates! We obviously need another boulder bollard there!

[I do wonder what truck went down the path. I hope it wasn’t some monster truck watering the new trees and breaking up the asphalt…]

The P-gates don’t yet have padlocks keeping them in the closed position. Someone took the pin out of the left gate and rotated it 90 degrees. It makes for much more relaxing cycling. Or maybe it was just to let a truck through … Note that bollards (here at Gladstone)are installed to the sides to keep vehicles from going around the gates.


I gather from others that the P-gates also frustrate cyclists on long-tail bikes, or with kids on a tag-along bike, or with trailers, or with cargo bikes, and pedestrians with some types of strollers, who find the gates constrict turn movements on and off the road.

It sometimes seems amazing that the space for such a wonderful pathway was found where previously there was no pathway. There were bits of popular worn in paths though. And at the southern most end, by Dow Motors, the paved parking lot and laneway that used to run down the side of this building via a land lease with the NCC, was repossessed by the NCC and contributed to making the new pathway wider and more pleasant.


Above: sections near the Carling OTrain Station separate peds from cyclists. It’s great !






5 thoughts on “Good intentions in conflict on Trillium MUP

  1. Thoughtful and well considered report. Thank you
    How can the city be made to reconsider their miserable use of “P” gates ?

  2. Given the City’s lack of willingness to maintain grass along pathways and in medians, would it not make sense to start with a low/no maintenance plant, such as clover? There are varieties that remain low to the ground, spread quickly, and can survive long, hot, dry spells. This will limit the mowing requirement, and the clover may minimize the dandelion, thistle invasion that often leaves the area looking so unkempt.

  3. They were watering that new sod with a big water truck last week at the Young Street end. I only presume it went straight down the path. The sod needed the water for sure but he could have been more careful.

  4. Lots to think about. Can’t wait to get down to the path to compare it with your notes. How long did the public have to pressure the city to get moving on the improvements to the old path?

  5. I was in touch with the City last Fall when, as a pedestrian, I “stumbled” off the 75mm curb, installed ONLY between the Carling and Beech section, to segregate pedestrians from cyclists as I was coming off the Hickory St Pedestrian Bridge crossing the MUP to access Adeline St. I fractured a bone on left ankle, badly sprain right ankle and re injured right knee. Contacted Ward Councillor and the City sent out the engineer who “designed” the MUP to meet with me. He said he would investigate a way to indicate there was a curb, as there isn’t much indication of a “drop” when you’re crossing the MUP from the ped bridge to Adeline St., obvious though when going reverse route. Haven’t seen that addressed. Also the rocky hard scape area (as can be seen in one of your photos) right beside the ramp onto Adeline … He thought that might be better suited with “soft” scape; it’s still there and I guess that’s not going to be changed/improved either.

    I’ve used the path a few times since, and on one occasion was almost run over by a child learning how to ride her 2 wheeled bike (no training wheels) with Mom running behind her on the MUP section between Beech and Young – no ped/cyclist separation curb there … Another “hazard”? My question: Why is a child learning how to ride a bike on a MUP? I just wanted to take a walk. … Wonder where the safety for pedestrians is on this MUP? On the positive side the MUP was ploughed much better and in a more timely manner than any of the sidewalks in the area during Winter! One just had to find a way of getting to the MUP.

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