Working together with local municipalities and community groups, the County of Essex has spearheaded a project to improve conditions for pedestrians and cyclists in this rural Southwestern Ontario region to help more people recognize active transportation as a way to move from place to place. The County Wide Active Transportation Study (CWATS) focuses on reducing dependence on single-occupant vehicles by encouraging modal integration and accessibility within the transportation network.
The One-Way Cycle Track project involves the development of a well-designed, purpose-built facility and has created opportunities for safe, efficient and convenient cycling and walking facilities where it was needed most. The construction of a 6km raised cycle track on both sides of County Road 20, through the municipality of Leamington and Town of Kingsville was completed in 2019. This cycle track is a bicycle facility adjacent to and vertically separated from the roadway and provides facilities for cyclists traveling in each direction to ensure continuity and connectivity. It is designated for exclusive use by cyclists and is distinct from the sidewalk. The facility demonstrates how to apply the OTM Book 18 facility selection process and understanding specific user needs, e.g. children and migrant workers. The project was delivered through an innovating funding partnership between an upper and lower-tier municipality. This is just one segment of an approx. 800km active network.
The County established an Active Transportation Steering Committee and learned that success depends on effective communication and coordination between partners and stakeholders. The County owes much of its success to the strong support Council has given to sustainable planning and transportation initiatives. The CWATS program promotes healthy, active and sustainable lifestyles while recognizing the importance connected trails play in supporting tourism and residential development.
This innovative project demonstrates social, economic and environmental benefits through the availability of safe infrastructure accommodating utilitarian to recreational users. Additionally, this improved facility encourages continued growth for our cycling tourism industry along Essex County’s wine route which in turn contributes to a healthy, livable community through integrated planning. This project implementation and success is transferable to other municipalities by showcasing successes of collaboration.