County active transportation plan a 'key guide' to region, infrastructure 40% complete

County active transportation plan a 'key guide' to region, infrastructure 40% complete

The City of Windsor is just getting started on an active transportation plan, but Essex County is already five years into their 20-year master plan. 

It's called the County-Wide Active Transportation Plan (CWATS) and its goal is to link seven local municipalities with a network that covers 800 kilometres. 

Five years into the plan, about 40 per cent of the infrastructure needed is already built — and it involves more than just safe paths. Washrooms, benches and access to water are also included.

"It's a key guide to the region. We re-visit this every five years to make sure we're doing what's best for the region," said Katherine Wilson, active transportation coordinator.

The 20-year master plan involves partnerships with entities like Essex Region Conservation Authority, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit and the Ministry of Transportation. 

"Active transportation is any form of non-motorized transportation," said Wilson. Walking, cycling, or rollerblading are just a few examples. 

What's already completed?

  • 4.2 km of dedicated bike lane paths.
  • 7.9 km of separated cycle paths.
  • 83.3 km of multi-use trails.
  • 87 km of paved shoulders.
  • 220 km of signed routes.

At five years in, Wilson said they're currently looking at an update to the master plan. So far the feedback from the community has been positive.

"We're really interested in gathering what users of the infrastructure want to see," said Wilson. "We're connecting their communities."

Currently, four eco-counters are used to allow the county to obtain cyclist trends over time. Gridsmart technology has also been installed and can be used as pedestrian automated counting equipment. 

Eco-counters are installed at the following locations:

  • County Road 50 and Ridge Road.
  • County Road 50 and Bell Road.
  • County Road 20 and County Road 31.
  • Seacliff Drive West, west of Bayshore Drive.

"You want to make sure people are using the infrastructure that's been installed," said Wilson. "A big part of active transportation is the evaluation."

The budget for CWATS in 2019 is more than $2 million.