Mississauga, A Bicycle-Friendly City: Getting There, But There Is Still Some Distance To Go

By:  Monica Kucharski

If you want to dust it off and put your bike to use on a weekend, there are plenty of trails in Mississauga you can enjoy while peddling for pleasure, leisure and exercise.  Close to 300-km worth.  Some of the favourites include the Waterfront Trail (22 parks!), The Erindale Park Pathways, and The Britannia Trail.  However, chances are, you might have to drive to these cycling oases.

This is changing, though.  Mississaugans aspire to bigger and better things.  According to the City surveys, many of us want to make cycling not only a recreational habit to be engaged in anywhere, anytime, but we want to make it a safe, convenient and reliable mode of transportation within the City.

Just a quick refresher on the benefits of cycling.  It’s good for your health as well as your pocket—it reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other serious ailments, and trims your car expenses (gas, wear-and-tear, etc.).  But the bigger picture?  Opting for cycling reduces Mississauga’s traffic congestion, carbon dioxide emissions, and conserves energy.  And cycling-friendly communities tend to be safer and more closely-knit.

But turning Mississauga into a community with interconnected safe lanes for cyclists so they can reach all the important destinations (i.e., schools, malls, bus connections) is a challenging task.  It means changing our car-centric roads and streets to enable a safe travel for all concerned:  cyclists, pedestrians and motorists.

Did you know that the City came up with a detailed cycling master plan for Mississauga in 2010?  The stated goal of this plan is to develop 900 km of on- and off-road cycling routes in the city over the next 20 years that will put 95 per cent of city residents within one kilometre of a primary cycling route.  Check out the plan here.

Progress has been made, but there is still much work be done to make Mississauga a truly bicycle-friendly city.  A cyclist and Star reporter who participated in the annual cycling marathon, Tour de Mississauga, on September 17th wrote that “most of the route was on city streets, sometimes with bike lanes, sometimes not ….”

Making more headway involves numerous projects, both big and small.  You might not have noticed, for instance, that the City changed the design of catch basin (sewer) covers to make them less hazardous to cyclists.  It has also implemented an off-road trail inspection program and started pilot projects for cross-rides and coloured bike lanes.

Coming down the pike in the make-Mississauga-cycling-friendly effort is a multi-use trail on the boulevard of Thomas Street to connect to the Streetsville GO Station, cyclist and pedestrian access to Mississauga Transitway and GO stations, and including cycling routes for directly connecting with transit hubs in the Dundas Street from Oakville to Toronto enhancement project…to mention only a few.

And here’s where you come in.  The City is also updating its 2010 Master Plan and is asking for input.  Do you want to have your say about Mississauga efforts and plans to make it a truly bicycle-friendly city?