Riding a bike on Plains Road in Aldershot is currently “only suitable for the strong and fearless”, but that will soon change.
A Burlington staff member made that comment while contrasting the current state of Plains Road West with the major improvements planned for next year. Cyclists will be big winners.
Staff were gushing about the $7.8 million project as they presented the details to a virtual public meeting this week. “It’s an exciting project because we get to do something in the City that we haven’t done before”.
Along with the resurfacing of Plains Road from Spring Gardens to Waterdown Road, the project has a variety of new features aimed specifically at protecting and encouraging cyclists.
The work includes the City’s first protected cycling facilities. On the north side of Plains Road the concrete sidewalk will be widened to 3.5 metres. Half will be for pedestrians and half for cyclists. They will be separated by pavement markings. Since the new cycle track will be above the road, it will be considered “protected”.
On the south side, hydro lines, trees, underground utilities and other issues prevent a similar lane. Instead, a new 1.5 metre bike lane will be on the road, but will be separated from vehicles by a .5 metre flat concrete pad with plastic bollards every few metres. In the transportation world, this is also considered “protected”.
There are a few variations primarily due to existing geographic and infrastructure obstructions.
Intersections will also be improved for both pedestrians and cyclists.
All the intersections will have new, raised, corner safety islands and crosswalks. These will enhance safety by slowing turning vehicles, reducing the crosswalk distance and improving visibility. Included will be new sidewalk accessibility ramps and tactile plates.
At the major intersections of Daryle, Howard and Gorton, which have existing traffic lights, there will be new traffic signals for cyclists similar to pedestrian crossing lights. There will also be separate stop bars to distance the cars from the bikes as they wait at a red light.
Two new types of transit stops will be introduced for the first time in Burlington. They are specifically designed to improve the interface and reduce the conflicts between stopped buses and passing cyclists.
Staff believe that the new cycling lane features will not only promote safety but also improve access to local retailers.
“What we know in the transportation planning world, and what we’re seeing through the research, is that cycling is so very good for the local economy. It’s a huge benefit and the local economy really does see an uptake. You’re going to see more vibrancy”.
A new pedestrian refuge island and crosswalk will be designed for the intersection of Plains and Spring Gardens Road where the formal bike lanes end.
Among the other improvements are sidewalk and curb repairs along the entire stretch of road and removal of most of the overhead utility lines on the north side, to be replaced by new street light poles.
The five vehicle lanes on Plains Road will remain. There are no lane reductions planned.
The work is expected to begin in May 2022.
Staff advised that there are two more stages to the planned improvements to Plains Road. In 2025 the bike lanes and intersections from Waterdown Road to Shadeland will be completed and in 2029 similar improvements will be completed from Spring Gardens, past the RBG, to York Road.
Another public meeting is planned for early 2022 to bring residents up to date.
By Rick Craven