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The Clean Air Partnership is a registered charity, founded in 2000. Our mission is to work with partners to achieve clean air, facilitate the exchange of ideas, advance change and promote and coordinate implementation of actions that improve local air quality.

Jane’s Walk on Two Wheels – The Burlington Bike Ride Experience

For those that don’t know, the first weekend in May every year is set aside as a tribute to prominent urbanist Jane Jacobs.  All around the world, people pay tribute to Jacobs in a fashion befitting her legacy; by experiencing the communities in which they live on a human scale.  Jane’s Walks are organized all around the world and encourage people to connect with their community in new and interesting ways, by experiencing their neighborhoods from a different perspective, hearing new stories about places they walk by every day, and realizing that there is much more to a city than just freeways and concrete.

In Burlington, the activity planned to celebrate Jacobs’ legacy was a bike ride organized by Kevin Love, a member of Burlington’s Sustainable Development Committee.  Kevin is a passionate cyclist who advocates strongly for increased cycling infrastructure in order to ensure that cyclists of all ages and skill levels feel comfortable and safe using their bike as a part of their daily lives, not just as a recreational tool.  With these goals in mind, Kevin set out to show us some of the great infrastructure for cyclists in Burlington as well as to identify some of the gaps that exist in the cycling network.

Of course, any time you talk about active transportation infrastructure in North America, there are going to be flaws and gaps.  75 years of building cities designed primarily for automotive transportation has led to some design standards that don’t exactly encourage commuter cycling, but forward-thinking communities like Burlington and many others in the GTHA are taking steps to correct that.  Burlington has been moving forward particularly quickly on the cycling front, actively promoting Bike To Work Day this coming Monday, May 28th and also circulating their great new Video promoting cycling in Burlington.

Our ride set out from the Central Branch of the Burlington Public Library, and headed straight for one of my favorite pieces of infrastructure in Burlington, the Centennial Bikeway.  The wide, paved path was particularly beautiful the day of the ride, as many of the trees framing the trail are now sporting full foliage.  As we rode along, I was impressed by the number of cyclists we passed as well as the diversity of those using the trails.  It seems that everyone from young to old was out that day on their bikes, enjoying the trails and the beautiful weather.

Our group of Jane’s Riders, or a Bike Gang, if you want to call us that, stopping to discuss the Centennial Bikeway.


Once we exited the Bikeway, we headed on down to the Waterfront, which is an absolutely stunning place to ride.  While it can get a bit busy along the Waterfront with pedestrians, dog walkers, families and children, that kind of bustle of activity and heavy use of a public space is what makes it such a great destination to begin with.  It’s truly a beautiful place, and it actually got even better as we headed towards the Burlington lift bridge.

The Beautiful Burlington Waterfront, with a trail that is well used by pedestrians, cyclists, dog walkers and all other manner of folks. Just a great public space!

Riding along Burlington beach, it’s easy to forget that you’re so close to so many urban centres.  It feels like it should be somewhere up in the Muskokas, and is a fantastic place to go for a ride.  The wide trails could accommodate a large number of users, but the use of a bell to warn pedestrians of your approach is always a good idea, and was very important along the busy trail.

When we got to the lift bridge, there was a staircase with a bike groove which took riders up onto the bridge.  As we stopped to talk about the bridge, the trails and the stairs, we were all quite surprised by the sheer number of people that came along and used the stairs to move their bikes up and down.  It was a very busy day on the trails, so we really got to see that infrastructure in action!

Riding back north, we left the trails and again ventured onto the roads using some of Burlington’s many bike lanes.  While the network is extensive, it is by no means exhaustive, and there are many gaps that can be identified.  Luckily for Burlingtonians, the city has an excellent Cycling Plan, and is installing more bike infrastructure every year to close those gaps.  Of course, the most significant barrier to cycling in the City is the QEW highway, which cannot be ignored when discussing cycling in Burlington.  But the City has displayed fantastic leadership in developing new cycling infrastructure at Highway interchanges (the Fairview Street interchange is a perfect example of this), and I’m sure that it is only a matter of time before the City is able to address those gaps and provide Burlingtonians with a well connected, safe and effective cycle network for all users.

The interchange on Fairview at the 403, where the City of Burlington has partnered with the Ministry of Transportation to make a safer, more effective interchange for cyclists and motorists alike in trying to eliminate some of the major barriers in the cycling network of Burlington.

Well, that was my Jane’s Walking for the year.  I’m thinking that next year I may actually host one in Hamilton, so be sure to stay tuned for information on that as I mull it over in my head.

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2 Comments on “Jane’s Walk on Two Wheels – The Burlington Bike Ride Experience”

  1. Cornelius September 29, 2012 at 8:42 pm #

    Oh my goodness! Amazing article dude! Many thanks,
    However I am experiencing issues with your RSS. I don’t understand why I am unable to join it. Is there anyone else having identical RSS issues? Anyone who knows the answer can you kindly respond? Thanks!!

    • cleanairpartnership October 4, 2012 at 12:55 pm #

      You’re not the first person to tell me that, I’m not entirely sure what is going on with it. I’ll try to figure it out ASAP though!

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