2-3 SF Bike map‎ > ‎

2-3-1 Bike Map 2

In Part 1 of this essay, I described what kind of bicycle route feels safe and which streets in downtown Smiths Falls do or don't feel safe. In Part 2 on this page I describe routes crossing the river and railroad in our community plus provide the first update on this, my project to make a Safe Bicycling Map for Smiths Falls.

Here is a map of Smiths Falls from Google Maps which shows the river and the railroads. First, the river, which divides the old northern half of town from the newer southern half. There are four and a half river crossing points. 

On the left is the Abbott Street swing bridge, right under the tiny tent symbol for Victoria Park. This bridge connects the south shore with the long shard called Lock Island, so named for the Smiths Falls Detached Locks. Just north of the swing bridge is the fixed bridge, which connects Lock Island with the north shore. Here's where the 'half' comes in. Its not shown on the map but from Lock Island there are three foot bridges connecting it to the north shore at Park Avenue. By 'half', I mean you still have to cross the Abbott Street swing bridge to reach them.

Next are the foot bridges that cross the Combined Locks alongside Beckwith Street, also not pictured on the map, but located just to the right of the letters "St S" in "Beckwith St S". Then there is the Beckwith Street roadway bridge, and finally the swing bridge and fixed bridge over to the right on Old Sly's Road.

Among these routes, Beckwith has the most car traffic. It is shaped like a hill and the lanes are not very wide. I almost never ride on it, unless traffic is distinctly absent. At this location I use the Combined Locks foot bridges and escape to Confederation Drive going north or along a footpath in Victoria Park going south. Not much can be done to make the Beckwith Street bridge any better for cycling; its too narrow to add bike lanes. Good thing the foot bridges are right next to it.

At the eastern edge of town are the bridges of Old Sly's Road. The swing bridge is the same type as at Abbott Street; two narrow lanes of roadway and a sidewalk only on one side. The Old Sly's bridges have cement sidewalks but the spaces between them only have a widened dirt road shoulder on the southbound side. The distances involved are greater than on Abbott as well. 

Among these crossing points, the Combined Locks foot bridges are the least stressful to cycle across, followed by the footpath and sidewalks on Old Sly's. The Beckwith Street bridge is the most stressful but the least necessary because of the foot bridges right next to it.

The railroad is Smiths Falls' other barrier for cyclists who want to travel from the downtown on the north side to places like the VIA train station, the Greyhound bus stop north of Cornelia or the neighbourhood west of Rideau Avenue. On the map above, note that the symbol for Smiths Falls railway station is shown on Victoria Avenue at Daniel Street, west of the tracks. That's where it used to be; the map hasn't been updated. It has since been moved north of Cornelia Street past the top of the map, east of the tracks.

There are seven crossing points at the train tracks in Smiths Falls. There is Queen Street at the bottom of the map, which goes under a railway bridge, then the Chambers Street subway at Robina, level crossings at Lorne Street past Bourke and at Chambers Street and Winnifred which cross the single VIA line, a pedestrian subway at Victoria and Robinson that crosses beneath the rail yard, and then finally the Cornelia Street subway at the northern end of town.

The Lorne and Chambers level crossings over the single VIA tracks are inconsequential. Neither one is a busy intersection. The Chambers Street and Cornelia Avenue subways are paved trenches that have no room for cyclists. The Chambers subway has a marked, paved shoulder on the westbound side. Traffic is not very heavy but there is an intersection right down in the subway with Rideau Avenue, which is a place for surprises. Cornelia is a wide road with no room for bike lanes. It does have elevated sidewalks with railings but these are not roomy at all and useful only for pedestrians or motorized wheelchairs. Of all the subway routes, the pedestrian subway from Victoria and Robinson east under the rail yard is the least stressful because there are no cars and traffic is light at either entrance, but the entryways to the tunnel below are rather steep and approach it at right angles. 

Individual cyclists have their own reasons to use one crossing point or another, but let's picture a teenager going from home at Russell and James on the north side to school on the south side (below Florence and Broadview, off the map above). Here, the barrier being crossed is the river. She would ride down James to Strathcona and cross the Centennial Drive bridge and the Combined Locks foot bridge to Victoria Park. Here, she will face the barrier known as the Beckwith-Lombard-Brockville-Jasper Avenue intersection. 

To a cyclist who has no problem riding on streets with traffic, this intersection only requires some patience. The roads connecting to it can be ridden, certainly until the next available side street intersections. You might briefly slow the motor traffic but that's about it. But for timid riders--and the whole point of this essay is to address them--other routes are sought. For our young rider, the simplest route is to ride west through Victoria Park to the traffic light-equipped intersection of Lombard and Lavinia, cross Lombard there and proceed south. From Lavinia, she will reach Alfred or Davidson, travel east to Abel and head all the way down Abel to the intersection of Broadview and Brockville (off the bottom of the above map). Crossing Brockville there, she takes a right onto quiet Percy Street which takes her the rest of the way to school.

Victoria Park path west of Beckwith Street bridge, looking back toward it.

Another route would be to take the Victoria Park bike path under the Beckwith Street bridge east toward Lower Reach Park. The path connects to Riverdale Avenue from which streets like Beech or Broadview can be used to reach neighbourhoods south of Jasper Avenue or east of Brockville.

Cyclists who want to ride from downtown Smiths Falls to the VIA Rail station on Union Street will have to cross the train tracks somewhere. The only one I believe is feasible is through the Victoria Street pedestrian tunnel which allows for a roundabout way to reach the intersection of Cornelia and Union (off the map above near Condie Street). From there, the cyclist must decide how to get up Union Street to the train station, which is a stressful route from an especially  stressful intersection, but that's for the next instalment.

Victoria Street pedestrian subway entrance 

For bicycles, all of the river and rail crossings have at least some problems, and some of them are downright unusable. At the moment, about the only thing that this town could do to make them safer is to address the main cause of risk--the presence of motorists. In this instance, what drivers need to ensure traffic safety are visual cues to remind them that cyclists are nearby and that remind them about how to behave. Simply, plenty of signs that depict a bicycle icon and the words "SHARE THE ROAD" underneath, near each crossing point.

Last thing. I have acquired a large street map from Town Hall that I can use as a template to make colour-coded sections of a Safe Bicycling Map for Smiths Falls, which I will be preparing and sharing over the next few weeks. The map will be revised as feedback comes in. If at that point you want to share your views, you can contact me at davidhoffman@magma.ca