On Thursday, August 28th, the City of Mississuaga opened the new Confederation Parkway Bridge, which links the Mississauga City Centre to the neighbourhoods north of Highway 403. The Google Map of the area still does not show the new bridge, but you can figure out where it is by drawing a line over the 403 at Confederation Parkway.
So, why am I writing about a new highway overpass in Mississauga here on I Bike TO? Well, because I like this bridge and I think it's a huge step up for cycling in Mississauga.
If you take a look at the downtown / Square One area on the Mississauga Cycling Map, you'll notice that Highway 403 is a major pedestrian and cycling barrier that cuts straight across the northern edge of downtown. Prior to this bridge, the only crossings over Highway 403 were Hurontario St. (Highway 10) and Mavis Rd., both with nasty highway interchanges and huge volumes of fast-moving traffic. Safer crossing are located several kilometers east and west of downtown (Central Pkwy. and Creditview Rd.), but those require huge detours to get where you want to go, and still are not as bike-friendly as they could be.
The new Confederation Parkway bridge (almost) links several trails and bike lanes south of the highway to a series of designated routes, trails, and bike lanes north of the highway that go all the way to Brampton. Trying to ride any distance in Mississauga pretty much requires riding on major arterial roads, so connectivity in their bike network is extremely important. There are still many glaring gaps to fill in, but this bridge is a major win.
Besides filling in the cycling network gap and traversing a highway, this bridge has some other positive points:
- The bike lanes seem wide enough and are never next to door-zones
- There are no highway on/off-ramps, and therefore less turning traffic to tangle with
- There's a generously wide sidewalk for pedestrians
- Nice streetscaping and plenty of new trees
- The confederation Parkway bike lanes continue right down to Burnhamthorpe Rd., connecting other important locations (Rathburn Rd., City Hall, the Library, Living Arts Centre, etc.)
On the other hand, there are a few negatives too, which will hopefully be worked out soon:
- Although the bike lanes are at least the 1.5m standard width, it would have been nice to squeeze in some extra room.
- Will snow and other debris be cleared? There's no room to push snow off the edge of the road because of the barrier between the bike lane and sidewalk.
- The north end needs to be extended a few hundred metres up to Huntington Ridge Dr., to connect with the signed bike route. Otherwise it just dumps cyclists out onto wide, busy road.
- The wide sidewalks (and lack of bike lane connection) will probably entice many cyclists coming off of the side streets to just ride on the sidewalk over the bridge.
The other thing this bridge (and Mississauga in General) needs is more cyclists! I found it a bit disheartening to go for a 7km lunchtime bike ride around downtown Mississauga on a beautiful sunny day and see precisely ZERO other cyclists. Hopefully these incremental improvements will help get more bikes on the road.
Overall, this is a big improvement for cycling in Mississauga. Crossing highways is a major concern for potential bike commuters at my workplace (and elsewhere!), and any type of bridge without on/off ramps helps. I'd love to see more of these bridges appear over the 403, 401, 427, 407, QEW, etc. Even better would be some nice bike/pedestrian bridges that connect quieter roads over the highways, to help avoid that car/truck funneling effect.
Where would YOU like to see better highway crossings? For example, I remember riding down Pharmacy Ave. and thinking that this would be a perfect place to have a bike/ped tunnel or bridge to cross the 401.