No bike lanes for Highway 7 between Guelph and Rockwood

One resident here who has spent the last 25 years advocating for bike lanes on Highway 7 through Rockwood and west towards Guelph says despite current construction on the highway between Wellington Road 44 and Skyway Drive, his requests still haven’t been met.

Mike Nagy said he asked for bike lanes or a paved shoulder to be included when the section of Highway 7 in Rockwood was being paved a few years ago.

“I was quite upset that they wouldn’t consider just between the Eden Mills road and on your way out to Acton there’s a section there that they’ve got wider paved shoulders to accommodate cars turning but there’s like a 500 metre section that’s not there that would connect a paved section going over to that road and they just would not listen to me,” he said.

Nagy is once again advocating for bike lanes or paved shoulders on Highway 7, this time connecting Rockwood to Guelph.

“They’re well aware of this and they’ve obviously considered it, but as per their summary decided not to go with paved shoulders,” he said.

“It’s a well-traveled route for Rockwoodians and Guelphites going back and forth.”

Ministry of Transportation (MTO) spokesperson Emmilia Kuisma said the ministry considered paved shoulders in the design process, however, based on vehicle speeds and volumes, highway function, percentage of truck traffic, collision history and available space, decided against the request.

“Based on the above criteria, a separated cycling facility or an alternate route would be safer options for cyclists than adding paved shoulders for the length of the ministry’s Highway 7 project between Guelph and Rockwood,” Kuisma wrote in an email.

“The available space in the highway right-of-way does not currently allow for a separated cycling facility.”

She also noted the ministry is not aware of any dedicated bike lanes on any of the 229 provincial highways in Ontario.

However, she added, “New road safety legislation passed by the legislature [this month] will amend Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act to permit cycling on paved shoulders of unrestricted highways.”

The Highway 7 project began in September and construction, Kuisma said, is expected to be completed in July. According to a government website, the project cost about $4 million.

However, despite the close end date, Nagy is still working to have a paved shoulder added.

“The ministry really needs to start setting an example here of leadership on low carbon transport,” he said.

“They can come back and they can repave the shoulder … that would not be that big of a deal. I’m determined to keep on with this.”

Kuisma, however, said if it is decided a cycling facility should be included on Highway 7, additional work would need to be completed because there is not currently enough space on the road to meet the ministry design standards.

“This includes, design, environmental assessment, acquiring property from neighbouring landowners and finally construction of the facility,” she explained.     

Nagy said not making Highway 7 cycling friendly is a “missed opportunity” for the government, which committed in April to giving $25 million over three years to make the province more cycling friendly.  

“Here is like the perfect opportunity to put your money where your mouth is, in the design, and they missed it,” he said.

The MTO said the alternate route cyclist should consider when going from Guelph to Rockwood includes: cycling east on Arkell Road from Gordon Street in Guelph to Wellington Road 29, then to Barden Street and Ash Street and to Indian Trail; from there the cyclist should travel Indian Trail east to Wellington Road 44, then travel north to Highway 7 and the Rockwood Conservation Area.     

However, Nagy, who rides Highway 7 to Guelph a couple times a week in the summer, said he would continue using the road but will use his part of the lane.

“I’m not going to cycle on this little tiny, precarious strip,” he said. “I’m not going to cycle on the gravel shoulder.”