Etobicoke Creek Trail MUP

Bikes belong on Trails

A bicycle is a vehicle, allowed on the road. Bikes can also be ridden on trails that are shared with pedestrians. Let’s discuss the pros and cons of why you would pick one or the other for your cycling trip. Yes, bikes belong on trails, and bikes belong on roads.

In Brampton, trails are in parks and ravines and paths are in boulevards beside roads. Often, these terms are used interchangeably. They are known as “multi-use path” or “MUP” or as “multi-use trail” “MUT”. All trails/paths in Brampton are shared with pedestrians, hence the name, multi-use.

Sharing the Trail

Brampton Trail User Safety

For trail traffic to flow evenly, everyone should keep right except to pass. That includes pedestrians and bikes! City of Brampton prepared this handy safety infographic. Since people have been to taught to walk on the left side of a minor road without sidewalks, they incorrectly assume they should walk on the left side of the trail. KEEP RIGHT.

pedestrians & cyclist sharing MUP

Let’s face it. Multi-use paths are classified as “recreational” and not meant for commuting or cycling at higher speeds. Cyclists who are racing or commuting should take to the road and not endanger pedestrians. As you can see from the angle of the cyclist on the curve, even ringing a bell would not have given these folks time to move to the right.

MUP directional arrows

The new Claireville Trail has a yellow centre line painted on the hill. Clear arrows indicate users should travel on the right side of the MUP.

MUP directional arrows & stencils

This freshly paved section of the Bovaird Trail has clear markings of directional arrows for both pedestrians and cyclists.

Multi-Use Paths: in-boulevard & park types

in-boulevard MUP

In-boulevard multi-use paths are adjacent to roads that have heavier traffic. They are usually paved in asphalt, but may be concrete, particularly where the path crosses a bridge. They may be marked with bike route signs and/or with a trail name. (These cyclists would move to single-file and keep right if a pedestrian approached them.) In Brampton, one has to be alert since these paths sometimes switch sides of the road at an intersection.

barrier-protected MUP

Where Bovaird Trail crosses #410, Ontario Ministry of Transportation installed this barrier protection to create more safety for cyclists. We advocated for this and they listened. Very nice, we like this!

park MUP

Park multi-use paths connect parks to neighbourhood streets, and contribute to the cycling network. The Etobicoke Creek Trail above, connects the entire 26 km length of Brampton north to Caledon, and south to Mississauga. Some park paths are signed and some are not. The City plans to install wayfinding signage which will be a large improvement. Users want to know how to travel to destinations.

Most of the MUPs are paved with asphalt, but some have gravel surfaces. We prefer the paved paths because gravel, even fine and well-packed, is a barrier to accessibility (eg. wheelchairs, strollers) and winter maintenance. This is another reason that MUPs cannot be the total solution for commuting year-round. Gravel is also not a good surface for narrow road tires.

no winter maintenance MUP

The plow stops where the gravel surface on the path starts.

Other Tips for Multi-use Paths

blind corner on MUP

Slow down, keep right and ring your bell on “blind corners”.

Chinguacousy Trail MUP

Watch for any hazards, including glass on the path. This bus shelter on the Chinguacousy Trail in-boulevard MUP is another area for caution. Advertising signage inside the glass shelter prevents bus passengers from checking for cyclists, and cyclists from seeing passengers darting out when the bus comes! WATCH and SLOW DOWN!

ECT flooding 2023

If anyone says cyclists can commute year-round on the MUP, remember flooding time, which can happen any time! It’s dangerous to wade or cycle into this, since you can’t be sure there isn’t a big hidden hole. Brampton typically caution tapes entrances to the ravines during floods. TAKE TO THE ROAD!

Etobicoke Creek Trail under 410, 2013

A little reminder of just how far we have come! This image of Etobicoke Creek Trail under #410 was taken in 2013, before the trail was upgraded and paved! Now it is easy for “bikes belong on trails” to go south to Mississauga.

Use common sense always. Ring your Bell… 🙂