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My Sustainable Day-Cation in Burlington Part 1: Cycling!

After the great time I had in Pickering for my first Sustainable Day-Cation, I was really excited to figure out where I would be going to next.  But I wasn’t sure where I should head for my next trip, so I put it to the court of public opinion, asking whether I should visit Oakville or Burlington next.  In the end, Oakville won the vote, but the response was so great from both communities that I decided I should probably visit both, and it just so happened that some of the staff in Burlington were able to show me around on a bit shorter notice, so that’s where I ended up heading.

I have to admit, living in Hamilton, I was pretty excited about visiting Burlington.  It’s a municipality that I never knew much about, and the more I find out about it, the more I like it.  One of the things I really like about it is that from my house in Hamilton, I can actually get right into downtown Burlington without ever leaving the relative safety of a bike lane.  And what’s even better, I actually get to travel across some features that are unique and innovative in the GTHA.  So, let’s plot my path.

My ride begins where York Boulevard turns into Plains Road.  The vistas on Plains Road as you ride beside the Lake then past the Royal Botanical Gardens are just amazing, especially during the transitional seasons.  On this particular day, brilliant blossoms of pink and white are emerging, and a distinctive floral aroma is noticeable on the air.  It’s a great start to my ride.  As I ride through the Aldershot area, I notice buildings with storefronts on the ground level and several floors of residences above them.  This kind of mixed-use building is becoming increasingly prevalent in Burlington, creating communities that are more walkable and bikable, which is always exciting to see.

Bright blue markings on the pavement make cyclists much more visible, and makes a dangerous interchange much more manageable for cyclists.

Coming up to the interchange on Plains Road for the Highway 403 used to be a daunting task for a cyclist.  Fast moving cars changing lanes is certainly not something cyclists are comfortable with, but Burlington has addressed the problem with bright blue paint demarcating the bike lanes through this interchange.  It’s amazing how something so simple can create such drastic behavioural change.  I truly felt safe riding through that area, and noticed that drivers were giving me more space and adjusting their speeds accordingly.  It was a great experience.  Of course, should you still feel a bit uncomfortable cycling through the area while cars zip by you, there is also the option to ride on the sidewalk at that interchange, which provides an extra level of protection to cyclists who may not be as comfortable on the road.

After continuing past the Mapleview Mall, which has recently installed a covered bike shelter and encouraged patrons to ride to the mall, I make my way to Brant Street on Fairview, where I turn onto yet another nice, wide bike lane.  As I ride into downtown Burlington with the sun reflecting off the lake, I am feeling absolutely energized for the day ahead.  Now, I chose to end my journey Eastward at Brant street, which is almost a shame, because Burlington has recently updated an incredible trail system through their Hydro corridors called the Centennial Bikeway.  Two trails, one north and one south of the QEW, have been constructed as a sort of active transportation highway system.  The trails are 4 metres wide, feature smooth pavement, public art benches, clear wayfinding signs and run in a straight line all the way to the boundary between Burlington and Oakville.  I’m so impressed by these trails that I might actually attempt to ride all the way out to Oakville when I do my Day-Cation out there.  I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how ambitious I’m feeling when that day comes.

Could it be any more perfect of a spring day for cycling?

The Centennial Bikeway: a paved, beautiful multi-use trail taking you from downtown Burlington all the way east.

The last thing you want is for cyclists to be confused about where they can go once the trail ends, so Burlington has installed these great signs which can help even a directionally challenged person like me get wherever they need to go without relying on my smart phone.

OK, I know I have a lot of pictures of the Centennial Bikeway in here, but can you blame me? It's GORGEOUS!

And, to make things even more visually appealing, the City has installed a series of public art benches along the path.

Burlington is really working hard to become a cycling friendly city by installing new bikeways and creative bike racks, ensuring that there is safe, secure bike parking available at City Hall and at local hotels and launching a new video which promotes all the great infrastructure and programs that are available to cyclists in Burlington.  Tourism Burlington has also been instrumental in promoting cycling in the City, working with local hotels and bed and breakfasts to install bike racks and join the Welcome Cyclists Network, which provides information, repairs and support for cyclists visiting the area.  If you have any questions regarding how to make your Cycling visit to Burlington more enjoyable, I highly recommend dropping into the Tourism Burlington office and asking their incredibly friendly staff for some advice.  This year there is more reason than ever to visit Burlington by bike, as the City is launching a new initiative this year, hosting two car-free events during the summer. The first event is on June 10th in southeast Burlington, and downtown goes car-free on July 15th.   So now I know where I’ll be on those two days!

As part of the Welcome Cyclists Network, Burlington Hotels have installed beautiful covered bike racks.

Bucking the Ring-Post norm, Burlington has installed some great artistic public bike racks.

Clear signage points the way to ample bike parking at the Burlington Centre for Performing Arts

The ample bike parking in the underground garage at the Burlington Centre for Performing Arts

Tomorrow, we continue our tour of Burlington by examining some of the great Green Buildings that have come online in Burlington in recent years, so be sure to drop by and check it out!

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