The recently constructed paved Trillium Pathway currently terminates as it crosses Carling Avenue, in the top left corner of the above aerial view.
Those who persevere can follow the worn out remainders of the NCC’s 1963 stonedust pathway along the rail cut south to Prince of Wales (POW) where it comes to an inglorious end at a sidewalk, sans curb cut to let cyclists rejoin the road. There are, of course, no signs to indicate where the paths might continue around Dows Lake, Queen Elizabeth Driveway, through the Arboretum, or anywhere else. And god help anyone coming from those other pathways trying to actually find the Trillium Pathway as it is quite hidden.
The Phase 3 construction project will basically follow the existing stonedust alignment; and the cycle lanes on POW will be kept or rebuilt as cycle tracks.
It is a modest, albeit welcome, project.
At Carling, the Trillium path crosses beside the auto dealership like this:
In a few years, that crossing will become more complicated with the introduction of bus lanes to replace the removed grassy median. The city’s proposed layout for this crossing leaves a lot of safety concerns in my mind, which I outlined a few weeks ago in the series on the Carling Reconstruction project. Here’s a pigeon-eye view of their proposal, showing numerous places where pedestrians and cyclists can get stranded in the intersection. Scary:
(At a minimum, all four bits of centre concrete medians should be extended to include the crosswalk zone AND the cycle crossride).
Once cyclists and pedestrians get across Carling, the Trillium Path extension will continue south to Prince of Wales:
Last season I witnessed many cyclists follow the “diagonal” walkway through the NCC parking lot to get to the corner of Preston/POW/Queen Elizabeth Driveway. Others simply cycled on the crosswalk that encircles the parking lot. Both seemed quite safe to me.
The new pathway will be paved, and in line with the existing pathway, so it might convince most southbound cyclists to follow the longer route to Prince of Wales Drive before jogging over to the Preston/POW/QED intersection, but some will surely know that the diagonal route is shortest. It is most obviously so when travelling north from the intersection.
Once the path arrives at POW, there is a unsignaled crossing.
For many cyclists, especially commuters, this road will be straight forward to cross, especially since there is a safety island in the middle, so one only has to cross one direction of traffic at a time. But for families, children, the elderly, and timid cyclists, I suspect this will be a stressful crossing.
How many cyclists can be bunched up on that island at any one time?
Perhaps a flashing-light type pedestrian crossover is being thought of, once it becomes legal to cycle on it.
I do appreciate that the POW crossing does not require people to ignore “walk your bike” signs.
Note that there is a second unsignaled crossing a few metres further west, at the start of the “Queen Juliana” pathway.
On the south side of POW the cycle track is bi-directional from Trillium crossing back to the Preston/POW/QED to the right:
This bi-directional bit of track seems very practical recognition that cyclists will take either the north or south side of POW from the Preston/POW/QED intersection, depending on the light phase at the intersection. I do have a bit of concern that bidirectional path bits that appear and disappear all over the place will not be noticed / understood by motorists. Or may even be resented.
The bidirectional segment ends at the Trillium Pathway crossing. It will be necessary to cross POW and proceed on the north side of the street if one is going further along POW or onto the Juliana pathway.
The south side of POW cycle track starts at the currently-unused Farm intersection on the left in the above illustration.
Of course there is the obligatory “remove existing tree” type notice. Apparently the city cannot abide a growing tree but must prove its dominance over nature by cutting down at least one living thing. Of course, they will promise a replacement tree, or four, of some dimension, planted who knows somewhere else, which may or most likely will not survive.
I think the cut-up, here it is, here it isn’t nature of the cycle track is reinforced by having the short lane segment when POW crosses over the railway cut. Is the track downgraded to a lane as an economy measure or because of some jurisdictional issue over who controls the bridge deck? Or because a cycle track at sidewalk level will require a higher bridge railing? For consistency purposes, that short segment of cycle lane should be a cycle track. It would also prevent car drop off- pick up functions occurring when motorists decide the cycle lane is a convenient stopping zone.
Shifting our attention now to the north side of POW:
notice that the cycle track (above the curb, same level as the sidewalk, with a buffer between the track and the curb) runs only from the POW/Preston/QED intersection as far as the entrance to the parking lot. Then cyclists are abandoned to the tender mercies of motorists entering and leaving the NCC parking lot. Not even a cycle lane crosses the lot entrance. I regret to say I think this design is so obviously bad … the track should extend further west (to the left) to actually meet up with the entrance to the Trillium Pathway. Ideally, the protected cycle track would extend all the way to the Juliana pathway too.
And that NCC parking lot entrance is soooo wide. Why? The lot laneway should be minimal width and we certainly cannot justify that generous turn radius that implies, nay invites, motorists to enter and leave the lot at high speed. This isn’t Mario Cart or some run over a pedestrian game so why build the entrance like a freeway on ramp? Once the cycle track is extended across the mouth of the lot entrance, then cars will cross the curb,slowly rise the requisite 6-8″ while crossing the 2′ buffer strip, and cross a “flat” cycle track and “flat” sidewalk. No dips in the sidewalk or track, built in speed control, less danger all around. (A sloped sidewalk or cycle track in front of a busy driveway is an invitation for novice cyclists, esp children, to run off downhill into traffic).
Lastly, back at the famous POW / Preston / QED intersection, the plan shows signage requiring cyclists to dismount. I agree this will be a congested point. But many cyclists will not dismount. At many times of day there will be no need to.
Putting up useless signs merely invites contempt for all rules. And angers pedestrians who will resent mounted cyclists. And someday some zealous dundridge will show up to ticket a 12 year old cyclist who rides through that space.
Better to just put up a reminder sign saying SLOW or SHARED SPACE.
Ironically, the other side of the intersection, closest to Dows Lake Pavillion, has no dismount signs, but is unmarked even-busier shared space. Save a dollar, skip the signs.