Municipality: City of Vaughan Implementation: 2007-12-01
Policy Name: Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan Contact: Geoffrey Haines
Department: Development/Transportation Engineering Dept Title: Sustainable Transportation Specialist
Community profile:

  • The City of Vaughan is located in York region, North of the City of Toronto covering a land area of 273.52 square kilometers.
  • In 2011, the population of Vaughan was 288,301; population is expected to increase to 420,000 by 2031.
  • It encompasses the communities of Thornhill, Woodbridge, Kleinburg, Concord and Maple.
  • Major Highway 400 running North and South, as well Highway 407 running East-West are the two major highways in Vaughan.
  • Public transportation is provided by YRT, Viva buses (bus rapid transit), and TTC (only on specific routes), as well GO Transit offers regional transit in the GTA.
  • In the Public sector the largest employer is the City of Vaughan, while in the private sector Canada’s wonderland is, followed by United Parcel Services Canada ltd.

Short Description:

To guide improvements to existing and proposed pedestrian and cycling facilities


Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan

  • In 2007, the City of Vaughan adopted the Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan (PBMP), the plan will be updated after the completion of the Transportation Master Plan.
  • The plan aims to improve and expand the condition for walking and cycling of all residents in and outside of the city, as well for transit users.
  • The PBMP is a long term strategic plan (20 year plan) to guide development and makes recommendations for creating a transportation network that encourages active modes of transportation
  • Short term goals (up to 2016) include 117 km of new multi-use trails, 99 km of new bike lanes, 9 km of paved shoulders, 145 km of signed bike routes and sidewalks and 15.6 km of new hiking paths.
  • Phase 2 (2017 – 2026) includes the construction of 82 km of multi-use trials, 70.5 km of bike lanes, 54 km of paved shoulders and 4 km of signed bike routes and sidewalks.
  • The Plan also addresses the importance of end-of-trip facilities and public outreach to the implementation of the plan.

Four Key Components of the Plan

  • A recommended network of on and off-road cycling facilities and multi-use trails as well as recommendations on how to improve the pedestrian environment and support public transit use;
  • A recommended set of pedestrian and cycling route and facility planning & design guidelines;
  • Policy & program suggestions;
  • An implementation strategy;

The Plan also contains Appendices that explains the public and stakeholder consultations undertaken during the Plan’s development; route selection and evaluation criteria used; and unit prices used to estimate the construction costs of the various on-road cycling facility types recommended in the Plan.

Step by Step Process:

Undertook user surveys of people who walk and cycle in Vaughan to gain a better understanding of public attitudes towards walking and cycling issues, determine user characteristics, estimate the frequency and purpose of walking and cycling trips, determine the types of improvements sought by pedestrians and cyclists, promote and raise awareness of walking and cycling. Respondents were solicited in a number of ways, community centres, intercept surveys of people at random. Four public and stakeholder events were held. Concerns of cyclists were (in order of importance) Safety; Maintenance; Lack of space; and better facilities. MMM was retained to help develop the plan. Data collection on use of cycling and pedestrian routes is identified as a priority in the Plan.

Primary Drivers:

There was demand for a master plan in the City. Green Directions Vaughan (approved in 2009) included a goal to develop and sustain active transportation. The City is striving towards an environmental ethic, attaining a higher active transportation mode share is key. Concurrently, transportation engineers in Vaughan realized that building new roads or expanding existing roadways may be seen as the answer to relieving traffic congestion, this measure alone will not resolve the issue. As such, the City’s Transportation Master Plan (approved in 2012) seeks to take full advantage of the limited opportunities to expand the road network to provide a greater range of transportation choices and initiate an extensive educational campaign for residents and business leaders on the need for changes in travel behaviour. Additionally, Parks Development Dept who implement off road trails wanted to have a larger network that people could use. Regionally, fitter, healthier communities are desirable from a public health perspective also.

Secondary Drivers:

Gas tax funding.

Funding applications to York Region provide up to 50% of costs of construction.

Development Charges Bylaw also fund pedestrian and bicycle related works, and TDM  efforts.


There are cycling supporters on Council.


On-road and off-road cycling facilities are handled by different departments.

Competing priorities


Regional roads running through Vaughan also require cycle facilities. There is overlap between Vaughan’s cycling infrastructure and Regional infrastructure.


Gas tax funding, Regional funding


  • Annual pedestrian and bicycle implementation program for on- and off-road facilities. Region contributes to some of these works through the Municipal Partership Program.
  • Gaps between signed routes will be connected to new cycle facilities, such as bike lanes
  • More connections are being made between the two primary signed greenways in the City
  • Before and after counts will be undertaken for the new bike lane corridors using tube counters
  • Because a lot of cyclists in Vaughan use sidewalks, smaller tubes are also being used to count cyclists on sidewalks and see if they are making progress towards moving cyclists from sidewalks to the street
  • Vaughan measures length of sidewalks and paths, and also the length of those that are linked
  • Every year, staff reports to Council on achievements towards completing the goals of Green Directions Vaughan
  • There are also annual updates on the Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan

Lessons Learned:

  • The Vaughan Cycling Forum (VCF) was established in 2012. Not a formal advisory committee, however it is a way to get informal feedback from residents on future cycling initiatives. Staff reports to Council with feedback from VCF participants. The stakeholder input gained through this is essential. It is also very popular with Council as it demonstrates staff working closely with the community.
  • Putting bike lanes in means removing on-street parking in most places. A lot of public consultation was used to gauge public opinion on the proposed changes. In one of the communities, it was found that 70% of residents said they would use the proposed bike lane facilities.

Applicability Across Ontario:

Could be easily applied in other Ontario municipalities. The Vaughan plan is older now, and there are new types of cycle facilities being implemented across the GTA since the PBMP was adopted in 2007. There are newer plans out there with more recent information in them that would be better applied across Ontario.

Similar Tools Used by Other Municipalities:

Geoffrey frequently reviews new plans and keeps up to date with best practice. While working on updates to the current plan Vaughan has studied what was done in Toronto around separated on-street facilities.


Further Information:

City of Vaughan

Vaughan Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan

Vaughan Transportation Master Plan


Green Directions Vaughan


Additional Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan Scan Update Questions

1. Were there any community groups that were engaged in the development and/implementation of the Plan? If so, what were some of the outcomes of their engagement? And what were some of the lessons learned from the community engagement?

Not community groups, but TRCA, LSRCA, CDSB, a Public Advisory Committee, a Regional Staff Study Steering Committee, a Technical Advisory Committee and a Consultant Team.

2. Has there been any discussion regarding how a Complete Streets Policy may fit in with the goals of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan? If so, what steps have been taken in developing a Complete Streets policy?

In the development of the Transportation Master Plan, yes. When the PBMP was developed, Complete Streets was not a term in use.

3. Have you developed any road or trail standards that aim to improve pedestrian and bicycling opportunities and infrastructure? Ex. Road design guidelines that require the inclusion or consideration of active transportation infrastructure? Complete Streets policies, guidelines?

There is an appendix to the PBMP that specifies design guidelines, but cycle facilities have changed in the last 5 years, so now Vaughan will uses the Ontario Traffic Manuals and TAC Guidelines for Canada.

4. What other transportation plans has your jurisdiction developed? Can you tell us a bit about how your jurisdiction has addressed the inter-connectivity between your various transportation plans?
Just the Transportation Master Plan.

5. What staff resources do you have allocated to the implementation of your bicycle and pedestrian plan? How many staff? Overall budget? % of total transportation budget allocated to active transportation?
On-road cycle facilities are implemented by the Development/Transportation Engineering Department. Engineering Services implement sidewalks and multi-use pathways. The Parks Development Department implements trails in parks and work on greenways. The Recreation and Culture Department has taken a lead on cycle-to-school programs. There are many departments working on this so it is hard to identify precise numbers of staff or budget that is being allocated to active transportation.

6. Has your jurisdiction considered aging populations in the bicycle and pedestrian plan and if so what resulted from that consideration?
The TMP notes that Vaughan must provide reliable, safe, affordable transportation for everyone.

7. Has your jurisdiction considered low-powered vehicles (ex. E-bikes)? If so how are they being integrated?
There are signs that state e-bikes cannot be used in parks. There are restrictions on trails.

8. Has your jurisdiction encountered any safety issues such as vandalism? If so how have your addressed them?

9. Is your municipality a Smart Commute employer? If so if and how does that inter-act with the Pedestrian and Bicycle Plans?

Yes. This past spring a report was brought to senior management around energizing the Smart Commute Program. A Bike Champions program was created. There was a clean air commute in June. How cycling can be integrated into the Smart Commute process is currently being debated.

10. Does your municipality have any pedestrian and bicycling certifications? Bike Friendly Community?
Working to implement more cycling facilities first. So not yet.

11. How does your municipality use bikes? ex – Police on bikes, by-laws?

By-law and Compliance Departmant has bikes, York Regional Police also.

12. Has your jurisdictional considered the increasing levels of health concerns (ex. increasing obesity levels among children)? If so what resulted from the consideration? How has this factored into the plan?

As part of plan implementation, yes, liaising closely with York Region Public Health.

13. Is your jurisdiction providing programs regarding the environment and transportation (ex.  bike to work/school programs, carpool etc)


14. Any suggestions, for knowledge that would be valuable to you?  Information requests? Capacity building? Implementation support?  Problem Solving? Community Engagement Strategies?

No. Already scanning other municipalities and their actions vigorously.