March 05, 2018

A Taste of Vaughan

Back in mid-December, the TTC opened the Spadina subway extension with six additional stops including the first ones outside the (amalgamated) City of Toronto. While I biked on some backroads in York Region (Stouffville) in 2013 and 2014 to train for the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer, they were rural roads which had no cycling infrastructure except for some paved shoulders. Helen and I explored the new subway stops and did a brief bike ride in Vaughan last weekend to take care of both things at once.

Before biking in Vaughan, we locked our bikes at the end of the line; that being Vaughan Metropolitan Centre. Why couldn’t the TTC call the station “Vaughan Centre” to make things easier? Naming aside, Vaughan Centre left a good impression when getting off the platform. It easily connects to the VivaNext bus rapid transit line on Highway 7, while the station’s aesthetics were modern with the mirrors visible from the escalators and a dome shaped exterior. Ample ring-and-post bike parking was provided, while cycling infrastructure has been provided next to the station. (more on this shortly)
Arriving at Vaughan Metropolitan Centre

The other subway stations also displayed modern styling, though the placement of certain stations is questionable. Especially Highway 407 which doesn’t have anything within walking distance and exists only to connect GO buses to the TTC. Pioneer Village is almost one kilometre away from the real village, which may cause some to question the chosen name, though its wooden paneled exterior stands out.
York University station with its large courtyard
York University’s design is a double winged version of the one at Vaughan and along with a large courtyard, serves as a student gateway. Finch West is all about stripes and will connect with the future LRT. Finally, Downsview Park connects with the Barrie GO line and the nearby market is mediocre at best.

Back at Vaughan, bike lanes could be found everywhere within a short walk from the station. Highway 7’s bus rapid transit route included buffered bike lanes from the start, though some progress has been made to protected bike lanes elsewhere in York Region per their latest cycling newsletter. They currently exist on Highway 7 from Town Centre Boulevard to Sciberras Road in Markham, while a pilot project from Town Centre Boulevard to Roddick Road using bollards was also done.
A raised cycle track on Millway only on one side

Millway Avenue has a proper raised cycle track next to the bus terminal just north of the subway station, which unfortunately covers only one block and one side next to the bus terminal. The remainder from Highway 7 to Portage Parkway consists of buffered bike lanes which were blocked by parked cars doing pick ups and drop offs. Maybe York Region should get their own Kyle Ashley to check this out? Raised cycle tracks were also present on Apple Mill Road from Jane Street to Millway Avenue, which ought to be extended west to Edgeley Road once construction has been completed. A suburban mini-Amsterdam?
Maybe York Regional Police needs their own Kyle Ashley?

The bike lanes disappear north of Portage Parkway, but it’s an industrial area with very few cars during the weekend. After Millway ends north of Langstaff, we then headed to Edgeley to Vaughan Mills. Unfortunately, no bike lanes exist for the rest of the trip, which lead to sidewalk riding on wider roads. Vaughan Mills does have some ring-and-post parking, but it is not the kind of destination to bike to with some sharrow markings surrounding the mall. However, the worst seen during our brief trip to just south of Major Mackenzie is the use of sharrows on Jane Street! What were they thinking, placing sharrows on a road designed for 80+ km/h which is fatal for people on bikes in the event they get struck? York Region later informed me protected bike lanes are planned on Jane near Vaughan Metropolitan Centre.
Sharrows on Jane Street north of Langstaff Road (via Google Maps)
Right now, Vaughan is in the process of updating their cycling master plan including a workshop on Thursday, March 8 for those in the area. The latest draft calls for a dense grid near Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, as well as bike lanes on Edgeley and Bass Pro Mills Drive to connect Vaughan Mills with the subway. Several regional roads (e.g. Jane Street) have been included which are York Region’s responsibility, while there are also a few proposed trails. My first impression revealed a few good first steps, but I will need to bring my bike to Vaughan (and York Region) a few more times to get a more complete picture of their cycling network.
These left turn boxes have been used across York Region
Cheers!
Rob Z (e-mail)

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