June 11, 2018

Toronto to Brampton (via Eglinton and Etobicoke Creek)

The first time I biked in Brampton was during last year’s “Bike the Creek” event. Since both Mississauga and Brampton have their own trails along Etobicoke Creek, I was curious to find out how cyclists from Toronto could get to Brampton. With Friday being a day off and a need to lose some steam from Thursday’s Fordian slip of an election, I found out by biking the Humber River, Eglinton West, and Etobicoke Creek Trails; a roughly 90-kilometre round trip!

Aside from a gap at Weston Road south of Highway 401 – which will be filled as part of the bike plan – the Humber River Trail is Toronto’s only continuous north-south bike route connecting the Waterfront to Steeles Avenue. There were a few items of interest I should note.
1. P gates were recently installed at Old Mill station to stop motor vehicles from entering the trail.
2. The trail bridge at Dundas West is narrow and has frequent bumps, which give cyclists the message to dismount (or slow down).
3. There was a couple of minor detours which weren’t properly marked; one near Edenbridge Road to go around a downed tree and the other at Scarlett Avenue for sewer replacement work.
The Eglinton West Trail is a straight and safe shot to Mississauga. Except for going under Highway 427 where a raised cycle track is used, the trail is separated by a grassy median with separate cyclist and pedestrian crossings; both of which are considered best practice given the high-speed traffic on Eglinton West. Bicycle signals and wayfinding signs are available from the 427 to Renforth Drive, which need to be introduced along the rest of the trail. Fortunately, the City’s Cycling Unit is planning to install bicycle signals at key intersections along Eglinton. (thanks Jun N for sharing the link)
The trail switches from the south side to the north from Renforth to Spectrum Way with abundant bicycle signals and clear bicycle crossing markings. The reason for the switch is to provide cyclists with safe access to the Mississauga Transitway running adjacent to Eglinton to the Etobicoke Creek Trail. With stops at Renforth (Commerce Boulevard), Orbitor, and Spectrum – all of which have bicycle parking in addition to the ability bring bikes on buses – it’s a case of multi-modal harmony!
 
Cyclists are directed to go to the south side at Spectrum, which lacks cycling facilities. The good news is a multi-use path is in the works from Spectrum to Etobicoke Creek and Toronto’s Etobicoke Creek North Trail is currently under construction expected to be completed in August.
The first 600 metres of the Etobicoke Creek Trail from Eglinton to a bridge is gravel, but will be paved along with the rest of the trail once the Eglinton bridge work is completed. Unfortunately, the City of Mississauga and MTO made a big mistake in not providing cyclists with a suggested detour map to get around the trail closure at Highway 401, which isn’t expected to be completed until late 2019. I used Matheson, Dixie, and Shawson where riding on the sidewalk – while illegal – is a good idea given the high-speed traffic. Still, that trail segment is a good nature spot with a great blue heron flying past me.
The paved trail resumed at Britannia Road next to Pearson Airport – a real treat for those wanting to see planes take off and land – and continued to a Tim Horton’s on Dixie Road. There were a couple of wayfinding issues including at Courtneypark Drive where the trail does a switchback after crossing Etobicoke Creek. No bicycle markings are available at the traffic signal next to Tim Horton’s to instruct cyclists to continue west on Mid-Way Boulevard. Fortunately, in-boulevard paths are found on Mid-Way and Columbus Road passing through industrial buildings to the trail terminus at Derry Road.
From Derry and Columbus, the Etobicoke Creek Trail doesn’t start again until you get to Kennedy Road in Brampton. In-boulevard paths are already available on parts of Derry (south side) and Kennedy (west side). However, they don’t exist on Derry between Tomken and Kennedy Roads when crossing Highway 410; a problem MTO has consistently been stubborn to address. More sidewalk riding.
Once in Brampton, a multi-use trail goes behind Peel Village Golf Course. Cyclists are instructed to use Hartford Trail and Bartley Bull Parkway before picking up the trail again at Kiwanis Memorial Park – where I turned back – while Brampton’s Etobicoke Creek Trail map (see below) shows a different routing going under and then along Steeles to get back to the golf course trail. If that trail is suitable for cycling, then Brampton should update their wayfinding signs to spare cyclists from the unnecessary residential street detours. An additional trail east of Kennedy Road goes only a kilometre and abruptly stops at Highway 410 without connecting to anything. Completely useless!
Toronto has their own Etobicoke Creek Trail close to the Waterfront, but a gap remains from the Queen Elizabeth Way to Burnamthorpe Road. Completing these trail gaps in Toronto and Mississauga would lead to a continuous 39-kilometre trail from Lake Ontario all the way to Caledon! While these trails are coming along at a decent pace, Toronto must commit more to expanding their on-street bike lane network such as these recently redone Queensway bike lanes I saw on the way home.
Let’s explore!
Rob Z (e-mail)

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UPDATE 2018/06/15 - Work is being done to fill the Etobicoke Creek Trail gap between Mississauga and Brampton, which is partially funded by the Ontario government. Below is an approximate routing in orange based on Google Maps.
 

9 comments:

  1. The Hartford Trail routing is a more pleasant alternative to the in-boulevard route on the south side of Steeles.

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  2. The trail emerging at Kennedy, south of Hartford, continues on the east side. There is a slight jog to the north. Eventually, there should be a protected crossing.

    Once across, the trail continues east and south, where it currently ends. Construction is underway to take it under the 410 to Westcreek Blvd. This is being showcased at this year’s Bike the Creek.

    By the end of the year, there should also be a connection from Westcreek, under the 407, to Mt Charles Park, in Mississauga

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  3. Hi Rob, thanks for posting this - very helpful for me as I've been planning almost exactly the same route. I'd been hoping to follow this RidewithGPS route: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/15579238 - which seems to show the ECT going under the 401, 407 and 410. I guess it was too good to be true, and mostly sidewalk riding from the 401 to Kennedy. How was that part of the trip? Does it make the ride much less pleasant? I think that from Steeles I could go south to Sir Lou/Ray Lawson, then take the multi-use trail north west to Chinguacousy and over to Eldorado Park, so the rest would be okay for me.

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    1. Thanks for your feedback, Morag. The detour crossing Highway 401 along Dixie was horrible. The sidewalks are narrower than normal and you sometimes have to lift your bike on and off. Crossing Highway 410 is still a bit dicey along Derry, but certainly more manageable.

      Never tried those trails you mentioned, so may have to look them up.

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    2. Morag, the path under the 401 is closed but passable on weekends when no workers are present.

      The trail under Tomken, 407 and 410 is now almost complete, and currently rideable, with paving scheduled for this month.

      Detailed account and pictures here: https://wp.me/p4TEzX-14G

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  4. According to some information I found online (lost the page now) the ECT has an "unofficial" path going past the airport and connecting back up at Matheson blvd.

    I am going to be riding from Brampton into Toronto as part of a bike tour. My current plan is ECT to Centennial Park. Then Eglinton Ave bike path over to Humber River bike path. Take that down to the lake, then follow the lake paths east until i get to my destination.

    Does this route seem sane for 2 loaded tourists?

    https://ridewithgps.com/routes/27901320

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    1. Interesting. I had to use Matheson, Dixie, and Britannia to detour around the ECT closure at Highway 401, but would be more than happy to hear more about this unofficial path or any other detours that would be better for cyclists than the route I used.

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    2. Found it! The "Trail Feature Brochure" pdf for the ECT calls it out.

      http://www.mississauga.ca/portal/residents/trails

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