We’ve been focusing recently on all the features of the new rapidways, which together are going to make transit truly rapid along Highway 7. But it’s important to remember that many of the design features were developed to ensure that all users of the Highway 7 corridor feel welcome and secure. This includes transit users, pedestrians, cyclists and drivers – the “complete street” design concept which you can read more about here. One of the features that have been installed on the rapidways are new dedicated bike lanes and bike boxes, which are painted green.
To provide safety and convenience the new bike lanes will extend 5 kilometres, from Chalmers to South Town Centre Boulevard with lanes on both the north and south sides of Highway 7. Unlike in many urban settings, York Region cyclists will have these lanes to themselves –our new bike lanes are dedicated, meaning they’re not shared at any point with vehicles.
We’re following the established safety standards, making the lanes 1.4 metres wide, with an additional half metre for a buffer zone between the bike and traffic lanes. Also to give maximum visibility for the bike lanes, they’ll be painted a high-contrast green in the areas around intersections, with special bike-lane markings to clearly identify them in the mid-block.
With the high volume of traffic, the bike lanes will provide a much more comfortable and secure environment for cyclists riding along Highway 7. But eventually most cyclists will want to turn off of Highway 7, with some needing to make left turns. Waiting in the left turn lane with vehicles to cross multiple lanes of traffic and the rapidways wouldn’t be safe on a bike, so we’re adding another feature to make the experience better for cyclists. They’re called bike boxes, and they will make the corridor more welcoming to cyclists.
Here’s how they work. Cyclists wanting to turn left off Highway 7 will proceed through the signalized east/west intersection in the bike lane into the far side then stop in a protected area, reserved for cyclists, tucked into the boulevard on the far side of the intersection. This area, known as a bike box, will offer cyclists a waiting zone while they wait for the light to change. Once the light changes, they will then cross Highway 7 along with other north/south traffic.
The bike boxes will be clearly marked with green paint like the bike lanes and other markings, so drivers and pedestrians will know they are for cyclists only. Permanent bike boxes will be put in place this fall and replace the painted ones on the street, so by next spring cyclist will have a great new pathway to follow, with the latest of features.
We’re excited to be providing these new features for York Region cyclists, and know that they’re going to help make this corridor much more welcoming to all travellers, no matter how they choose to get around.