buffered bike lane in Brampton

Bikes belong on the Road

Let’s set the record straight according to the laws and by-laws for bicycles. (This blog deals with non-motorized bikes. Please consult the Act and By-Law links below for the latest updates and precise wording. Consult your legal counsel for personal advice. Your friends at BikeBrampton are not lawyers. This simplified version will help inform you.)

Firstly, a bicycle is a “vehicle” under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act [H.T.A. 1. (1)]. Therefore, bicycles are allowed on the road. People who holler at cyclists to “get off the road” are misinformed.

Bikes are only allowed on sidewalks according to municipal By-Laws. Under current Brampton Traffic and Parking By-Law 93-93, only bicycles with all wheels less than 50 cm (20 inches) are allowed on sidewalks, unless the sidewalk (usually concrete), is designated as a multi-use path. Allowable bikes are typically those ridden by children.

Bike Lanes

bike lane paint markings and sign

A bike lane is the part of a road that is separated by a line from the rest of the road, for the use of people riding bicycles. A bike lane has a black and white sign, and painted bike and diamond stencils. Cars are not permitted to park in bike lanes unless they are a maintenance vehicle, police or emergency vehicle. Additionally, buses have the right of way to temporarily stop in bike lanes to let passengers on and off.

Urban Shoulders

urban shoulder

The urban shoulder looks like a bike lane, but does not have the sign, nor pavement markings. Cyclists can ride in the urban shoulder, and it feels safer than riding on unmarked pavement. However, cars can park there (maximum 3 hours in Brampton), and cyclists must move out into the traffic lane to pass. For that reason, cyclists are not fans of urban shoulders. Planners select urban shoulders to calm traffic speeds, and also with the thought of easily converting them to bike lanes as per the roll out of Brampton’s Active Transportation Masterplan network. More people will choose cycling for transportation when roads are safely connected to a network.



When the road is too narrow for bike lanes, and the route is an important network connection, a ‘sharrow’ is painted to indicate the road is to be shared by motorists and cyclists. Cyclists “take the lane” and do not keep right, since it is not safe for a car to pass within the lane. This occurs frequently at intersections where lanes narrow. (Cyclists are permitted to take the lane whenever a road is deemed too narrow.) The word ‘sharrow’ is a portmanteau (blended word) of share and arrow, as coined by Oliver Gajda, San Francisco Bicycle Program.

super sharrow

When planners want to indicate a connection with a high degree of importance, they use a “super sharrow”, with a larger stencil. This can be set in a painted green box for emphasis, as shown.

Bike Lanes vs. Urban Shoulders / Sharrows Videos

On September 27, 2020, Lisa Stokes, an experienced BikeBrampton member, delegated to Brampton Council, using her two videos (3-minutes total), to demonstrate the how cycling feels on roads with both these treatments.

Types of Bike Lanes

There are variety of different types of bike lanes. Below are the types you will see in Brampton.

Protected / Barrier-Separated Bike Lanes

These are considered the ‘gold standard’ of on-road cycling, due to the physical separation and higher degree of safety for the cyclist. They will encourage the more cautious cyclist to use the road for destinations. They are also safer for parents cycling with small children.

Hanover barrier separated bike lane

Hanover Boulevard is the first part of Brampton’s East-West Cycling Corridor that is to receive concrete barriers and metal posts to separate cyclists from cars.

protected bike lane, Bartley Bull Pkwy

Bartley Bull Parkway has short sections of paint and metal post barrier-separated bike lanes on the bridge over Etobicoke Creek. Since this is part of the route for the Etobicoke Creek Trail, this major north-south route will experience more than average cycling traffic.

Buffered Bike Lanes

buffered bike lanes, Central Park Dr

Wide buffered bike lanes on Central Park Drive. Note the 2 lines of paint with zebra stripes between. (Lisa demonstrates riding this in her video above.) While not as safe as a barrier protection, buffered lanes do create more space and safety than without a buffer.

Bike Lanes between traffic lane and parked vehicles

Rutherford Rd bike lane

Rutherford Road bike lanes were one of the earliest created in Brampton. The parked cars receive the buffer, rather than the vulnerable cyclists. This lane placement is used infrequently now, unless necessary for compromise. It depends on the road width and what is possible.

Central Park bike lanes beside bus parking

This bike lane beside the bus terminal at Bramalea City Centre is set between the traffic lane and a bus-parking-only lane. Although not ideal, it was the best choice to connect the wide-buffered Central Park Drive bike lanes (seen above) to the important network connection of roads and bike lanes in Bramalea.

Wondering about cycling on trails, green paint on roads, and what to do at intersections? Stay tuned for future blogs!