Jekyll and Hyde approach to cyclists on sidewalks versus multi-use paths

It is taboo to ride a bike on a sidewalk—especially when there are children and elderly walking on it—but when it comes to "multi-use" paths, such as the Lakeshore path, it is officially okay. A multi-use path is at heart just a sidewalk on steroids.

Sharing on the sidewalk is verboten:

Source: Toronto Star

But sharing a narrow multi-use path or bridge is perfectly fine—and officially promoted:

Bottleneck on new Portland Street Bridge.

In fact, (many) planners and architects happily propose and design new multi-use paths that force meandering walkers to interact uncomfortably close with commuting and recreational cyclists. The result is a trail that serves neither group well: parents have to constantly keep their children in check lest they make a beeline across a cyclists path; and cyclists have to slow down to a walking pace, or swerve around meandering pedestrians walking side-by-side. Hardly the best use of this most efficient machine (No joke: "In fact cycling is more efficient than any other method of travel--including walking!"). Yet our planners, for most of their off-road projects, continue to just squeeze bikes into this shared space.

A multi-use path is not a bike path. It is a glorified sidewalk.


Then there are bike paths where the pedestrians and joggers use as sidewalks, even though there is a sidewalk next to them.

Plenty of shared bicycle paths also meander through parks and close to trees, giving rise to safety concerns, particularly in those of us more vulnerable to assault. While I will use cycling infrastructure whenever I can do so safely, in many cases the bad (and the worst cases descend to the level of appalling) design of cycle infrastructure makes taking the street, even a busy urban thoroughfare, the safest option.

John G. Spragge
Mariner, cyclist, pilot

Cyclists and pedestrians need their own separate, and separated, infrastructure.
Multi use paths are inherently unsafe and really express our society's lack of commitment to cycling as a legitimate active transportation choice.

Striped unseparated bicycle lanes, multi use paths are all about the same thing cycling is not a serious mode of transportation in this City.

Share the road, share the trail. Your photos clearly show the interference issue on the narrow sidewalk. Not enough room for one cyclist and one pedestrian. The shared bridge has enough room to share. One cyclist and TWO pedestrians can fit. Communication and cooperation fix more issues than more pavement.


It should be just a standard, normal part of any street or road. Someone where to drive, somewhere to bike/rollerblade/skateboard and somewhere to walk.

And on off-road paths, which path is for which activity should be very obvious.

The shared paths in Toronto work for casual cycling. What is dangerous is roadies using them at high speeds.

Multi use paths aren't working for many of us. They are great for the city. They don't need to be cleared of snow becuase they are listed as recreational. They can show thy are building paths and many councillors like them because cyclists are out of the way of real traffic.

I am a commuter. I ride to work daily. I use the brand new new Mimico Linear Park trail. At $18 million it was supposed to be the closing odf the western gap of the Waterfront Trail and a viable route for commuters. It has not worked.

The trail is too narrow, too crowded and meanders too much to be useful to me. Also dog walkers have become quite aggessive about cyclists using "their park". I personally have been forced to stop by them.

I am back to using the Lakeshore. Narrow lane, fast speeds but I can get where want to go. Most commuters I have talked to re doing the same thing.

It is not a greaty park. No benches, shale beach because people don't lying on sand. No bike parking. Good for a walk or a recreational ride, just don't stop.

The same people who built the Mimico Linear Park are building the Pan Am trail. Look at their picture of the cyclist passing a pedestrian on a narrow trail. That is exactly what we have in Mimico. That is their vision for the Pan Am path

I've noticed that bridges and underpasses built during the 1960's and 1970's (some continue to this day), where additional lanes of motor vehicle traffic lanes were built-in. We see 2 lanes of traffic in each direction, with an additional traffic lane available, but NO STOPPING is allowed.

Yet try to accommodate separate bicycle lanes and sidewalks, no can do. No space available.

At least turn over that wasted space on bridges and underpasses over to bicycles to use.

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