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Waterfront Trail – Toronto to Oakville

June 10, 2019

On Sunday, for the first time, I took my bike on the GO train and covered the section of the Waterfront Trail between Union Station and Oakville on two wheels.

Bright and early, as always, I loaded my bike on the GO bus at Fairview Mall, then upon reaching Burlington, I wheeled it inside the station and used the elevators to first get down to the tunnel, then back up to the platform. I’ve seen cyclists haul their bikes up and down the stairs, but having done the stairs thing far too many times in buildings where I’ve worked, I opted for the elevators instead.

When the train came, I carried my bike up a step and fitted the handlebars between the pole in the middle of the open door. Note that outside each door is a green or red sign indicating whether or not a bike is permitted at that door. If you find a red sign indicating no bikes there, just to go the other end of the car. Once inside, I wheeled it straight ahead and rested it against the two poles in front of the three-seater facing forward, behind which there is another sign indicating that you can put a maximum of two bikes there. Sadly, there is no dedicated rack, unlike the case on the light rail in Minneapolis, but during my rides there and back, the bike hardly moved and I didn’t have to spend the whole time hanging on to it.

Doing this for the first time, I was appreciative of the light crowd on this early Sunday morning, but the weekend is the best and really the only time for a cyclist to do this. There are no restrictions on taking bikes on GO buses, but bikes are not permitted on Toronto-bound trains in the morning rush hour as well as trains leaving Union in the afternoon rush hour.

Once at Union, I again used the elevator to get down to the concourse, then wheeled it out to Front Street via the Great Hall, then proceeded on my journey. Turning south on Bay Street, I hooked up with the trail at Queen’s Quay and headed west along a dedicated bike path:

This section of the trail covers the scenic Toronto waterfront and even has dedicated bicycle signals at intersections. By and large, I found the trail users respectful and the high volume of pedestrian and bicycle traffic wasn’t a problem, but just like the rest of the trail through Toronto, however, keep your head on a swivel. Other cyclists pass at alarmingly high speeds and if there’s something you find interesting along the way that you want to check out, pull off to the side and wait for your chance to cross. This is like the 401 for cyclists without the express and collector lanes.

I found myself pulling off many times during the ride, especially during this stretch along Humber Bay, easily the highlight of the section I covered.

I also found many washrooms along the route, including this one, as well as roadside stands that included a Pizza Pizza location. There are also plenty of benches and other places to rest.

Farther west, the trail continued along side streets, but it was still well signed through Toronto.

Entering Mississauga, there was this pathway which followed Lakeshore Road. It reminded me of the section of the Shoreline Trail through Tonawanda between the South Grand Island Bridge and Buffalo in the Great State of New York, complete with the smell from the industrial plants.

For the most part, the signage was also good in Mississauga, but it could have used some improvement in the many lakeside parks the trail meandered through. Often times, I found myself having to guess as to which fork in the road to take. Luckily, I guessed right more often than not. The only major omission was at Southdown Road, where there was no sign directing cyclists to follow Lakeshore Road to the left, nor was there any visible indication that the shared pathway also resumed on the east side.

The City of Mississauga also had these annoying barriers installed throughout the route. At this spot, it helps keeps out idiot drivers who might think this is a road, but at the many other locations where they were placed, they were a serious nuisance and in some cases, a danger to cyclists. Someone thinks they are a good idea, but I don’t share that opinion.

Past Port Credit, the trail continued along this shared pathway alongside Lakeshore Road. I found no problem with it as I proceeded toward Oakville, yet I noticed so many cyclists opting for the very busy bike-lane-free Lakeshore Road instead. Why is a question I cannot answer.

I eventually made it to the Oakville GO station, where I boarded another train that took me back to Burlington and my bus connection to St. Catharines. It’s trail I intend to cover again, but given all there is to see along the way, I will concentrate on shorter sections in future visits so I can enjoy it more.

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