The State of Bike Lanes in Peterborough

Is Peterborough on the path to becoming a truly bike-friendly community?

You see a lot of people with canoes on their car roofs in this region. Peterborough is a great place to pedal and paddle—I’ve been saying that a lot. The paths and trails in and around the city and along the many creeks, rivers, and lakes are absolutely divine. In fact, the city recently won a Bike-Friendly Community award and even more recently downtown was certified as a Bicycle-Friendly Business Area. The city also has goals for short-, mid-, and long-term bike infrastructure implementation in its Transportation Plan.

But when it comes to on-street infrastructure, needed for people who use bikes as an alternative mode of transportation to get around the city and not just for recreation, the urban centre of Peterborough is not that great of a place to pedal.

Now that I’ve been biking in Peterborough for a while, I can honestly say George Street is one of the more dangerous bike lanes I’ve been in. It’s between busy on-street car parking with fast-moving, two-lane, one-way traffic. So, at the intersection, you need to dismount and cross with pedestrians. Because it is in the ‘door zone’ you need to ride to the left, into the painted ‘buffer.’ This tests one’s nerves because of the fast-moving (and truck-heavy) traffic coming at you.

The worst part? It ends right where you need it—at Hunter Street, Peterborough’s pretty little restaurant row.

The best news? This summer, the George Street bike lane extension is happening! The bike lane will be extended all the way down to Rink Street. The work has already begun. As well, it will be connected to the newly expanded Water Street bike lane, with a brand-new bike lane on Sherbrooke.

The new westbound Sherbrooke bike lane will be a contraflow lane that will be separated from opposite-direction motor vehicle traffic by a constructed median with plants.

Susan Sauve, Transportation Demand Management Planner, says that the Water Street bike lane expansion and the George Street extension from Hunter to Rink “should be finished in a month or so.” The McDonnel bike lane gap will also be filled in as part of the current street reconstruction project.

However, most of these projects only represent extensions of already-existing bike lanes. In fact, the only real new bike lane coming to Peterborough in 2018 is that 50 m (or 0.05 km) bike lane on Sherbrooke. There are also no plans for new bike lanes in 2019, though we will be seeing some new bike- and pedestrian-focused infrastructure.

The much-anticipated extension of the Crawford Trail from Lansdowne Place to Townsend Street, which would connect travellers with the George Street bike lane, was planned to start this year, but it has been delayed until next year due to the “exceedingly high tenders” that came in on the first round of bids for the project. The government funding for this project must be spent by 2020, so we know it will have to happen soon.

The multi-use trail on the south side of Lansdowne Street between River Road and Ashburnham Drive has also been delayed until next year, and construction on the Bethune Street Neighbourhood Greenway (also being referred to as a bicycle priority street) from Townsend to Dublin is expected to begin in 2019 as well.

Charlotte Street is being reconstructed between Park and George as a pedestrianized street. And so City Council has given direction to study provision of cycling infrastructure on King Street, as an alternative to having bike lanes on Charlotte.

City Council is also debating slower speeds for this pedestrianized gateway to the downtown core. There should be no debate. As we all know, slower speeds mean safer speeds and fewer deaths. And now that my commute requires that I ride next to pick-up trucks going 50 km/h (if they are going the speed limit) on ‘downtown’ streets, I miss the horrible congestion of Toronto.

Don’t misunderstand me, there are so many incredible off-street bike trails here that I can’t get enough of, but none take me to work—or any downtown destination really. This city has received funding to do more—now it’s time to do it. Peterborough can be a great place to pedal and paddle.

Next up: bike trailer for the canoe.


Photo by Tammy Thorne.

Fields marked with an * are required
Tammy Thorne

Tammy Thorne

Tammy Thorne likes bikes and magazines and recently moved back to Peterborough from Toronto. She is the founding editor of dandyhorse, an arts and advocacy magazine by and for cyclists.