Bike St. John's Master Plan

image of logo for Bike St. John's Master Plan

The City of St. John’s has developed a new Bike St John's Master Plan with the help of Trace Planning and Design, Stantec, and the Planning Partnership.

The Plan was approved by Council on June 10, 2019. In their approval, Council noted that there will be ongoing public engagement on any projects or changes.

Thanks to everyone who contributed thought public engagement! More than 1,000 people helped guide the plan by sharing experiences and feedback through public questionnaire forms, stakeholder meetings, public open houses, classroom visits, and drop-in sessions. Common themes and messages from the public include:

  • Safety is paramount
  • Off-street trails through natural areas are preferred by most
  • Riding a bike needs to be comfortable and convenient for more people to do it

Phase 1: In September and October of 2018, we asked the public:

  • where and why do people currently ride bikes?
  • what are the barriers and opportunities for cycling in St John’s?

See the Preliminary What We Heard for a summary of results.

Phase 2: In January and February of 20119, we hosted 4 public drop-in sessions, 1 stakeholder workshop and an online survey. A draft bike network map and vision statement were shared for public feedback.

The Draft Network Overview Maps and the Information Note for Council provide more details. We asked for feedback on:

  • Vision statement
  • Route selection (For example, comparing route options to bike from point A to B)
  • Bike facility type (Compare your comfort level using different facility types such as painted bike lanes, multi-use trails, etc.)
  • Surface materials (For example, should gravel or asphalt be used on multi-use trails?

The City of St. John’s has developed a new Bike St John's Master Plan with the help of Trace Planning and Design, Stantec, and the Planning Partnership.

The Plan was approved by Council on June 10, 2019. In their approval, Council noted that there will be ongoing public engagement on any projects or changes.

Thanks to everyone who contributed thought public engagement! More than 1,000 people helped guide the plan by sharing experiences and feedback through public questionnaire forms, stakeholder meetings, public open houses, classroom visits, and drop-in sessions. Common themes and messages from the public include:

  • Safety is paramount
  • Off-street trails through natural areas are preferred by most
  • Riding a bike needs to be comfortable and convenient for more people to do it

Phase 1: In September and October of 2018, we asked the public:

  • where and why do people currently ride bikes?
  • what are the barriers and opportunities for cycling in St John’s?

See the Preliminary What We Heard for a summary of results.

Phase 2: In January and February of 20119, we hosted 4 public drop-in sessions, 1 stakeholder workshop and an online survey. A draft bike network map and vision statement were shared for public feedback.

The Draft Network Overview Maps and the Information Note for Council provide more details. We asked for feedback on:

  • Vision statement
  • Route selection (For example, comparing route options to bike from point A to B)
  • Bike facility type (Compare your comfort level using different facility types such as painted bike lanes, multi-use trails, etc.)
  • Surface materials (For example, should gravel or asphalt be used on multi-use trails?

Check out the information on the page or review the questions and answers that have already been posted. If you can't find the answer you're looking for, post your question here and we will follow up with you. 

Q&A

  • If Rennies MIll Trails was paved its unlikely many cyclists would use it to commute as they would most likely cycle on the nearby Rennies Mill Road and Strawberry Marsh Roads as those streets are wide, low volume and low speed. This way they would avoid walkers with dogs, kids on skateboards, etc.. The use of the term "safety" is misleading and "risk' would be a better term. The risk of a collision with a motor vehicle on Rennies Mill or Strawberry Marsh Road is extremely low. Actually, the risk to cyclists on most City subdivision streets is very low as these roads are relatively wide, low volume and low speed.

    Runner biker asked 3 months ago

    Thanks for your comment! This is certainly an interesting question that will be considered as the project moves to the design stage. Please stay connected through this website to hear about future public engagement for projects related to the Bike Plan.

  • On a comment of 2 months ago by BG, the City responded with: "Thanks for your comment. People using proper shared-use path etiquette is really important for people to comfortably and enjoyably share trails. Educational campaigns are planned to accompany the opening of new routes." In a practical sense, many people don't follow rules, particularly when there is no enforcement, and one only has to look at the Outer Ring Road to see what happens when drivers have a divided double lane paved road with wide paved shoulders: they speed, even with a police presence Even though drivers are "educated" to drive according to the posted speed limit, which is 100km/hr, many do 140km/hr, even when its wet. The narrow trail sections, turns and gravel surface act as "speed limiters" for the cyclists that ride on them. Nobody does 140km/hr on Thorburn Road because its narrow but many do 140km/hr on the ORR because its wide. Bikes are prohibited on the Long Pond Trail and sections of Rennies Mills Trail and Virginia River Trail because there are downhill sections, and despite the posted "No Cycling" signs, many cyclists ride on them on a regular basis. In other words, the City's proposed "educational campaign" will probably prove ineffective. Widening, straighten and paving the trails will only lead to faster bike speeds and collisions and more complaints from the dominant trails users, which are walkers, dog walkers, runners and families with baby strollers. Also, it should be noted that baby strollers are already a common sight on the current gravel trails despite statements made in the Telegram by a City representative.

    Runner biker asked 3 months ago

    Thank you for your feedback 

  • I am concerned about the plan to widen and pave the trails. There is no way this can be done without removing existing vegetation and creating a wider, paved surface can only increase the amount runoff into the rivers from rain. We are already dealing with flooding problems because of upstream developments. How is the increased runoff and consequent increased risk of flooding during heavy rains going to be prevented. If there is no plan for this perhaps at the very least a non-paved surface should be considered. The same applies to the consequences of vegetation removal to double the width of the trail.

    geneherz asked 5 months ago

    Thanks for sharing your concerns. The environmental impacts of trail improvements will be assessed in more detail at the design stage. Alternatives and mitigation strategies will be explored as part of that process. These issues are important and will be considered.


  • Doing anything to Rennies River trail seems to be quite a touchy subject. The message that is out now is that the 'Grand Concourse is going to be paved!'. I'd suggest the focus be put on the Kelly's Brook trail as recommended in the plan. I think once people see the benefits of a safe, shared, accessible trail that can be used by many, this panic will subside. Lets catch up to what other major Canadian cities are doing!

    amackay11 asked 5 months ago

    Thanks for your comment. You're right. Kelly's Brook trail is the first shared-use path project to design and build. It will serve as a helpful discussion tool when engaging with communities in advance of upgrading Rennie's River and Virginia River trails to shared-use paths. 

  • I ask that staff and council keep level heads when considering feedback received from existing trail users. There are absolutely issues with paving any area (including the City's continual expansion into surrounding landscape) but it is a challenge we can meet. Many cyclists are also walkers, runners, and environmentalists. I for one want permeable, usable surfaces for all users. Concerns about cycling etiquette are exaggerating in my opinion. Those citing issuse with behaviour on trails today have to recognize that these riders are already fine with breaking rules. Are we to believe that cyclists who avoid trails due to the rules are going to break them once mixed-use is implemented? Cyclists are perfectly capable of riding for the conditions, slowing down around bends, and respecting other users. A campaign of education will ensure this. Concerns about trail widening are neither here nor there. Trails are by definition created and they can be deliberately shaped. They can be widened and become perfectly pleasant, treed routes in just a few years. How do we create the wonderful trails and parks of the future if we don't start now? Finally, we have to recognize that we are talking about both leisure and transportation here. While recreational routes are nice, if they can be part of a functional network that reduces car usage we have to consider it. Thanks to staff and council for their work so far on this! P.S. I second kmorry's request regarding internal and supporting elements of the plan. These are uncontroversial and should not be considered tied to the trail proposals.

    mjphilpott asked 5 months ago

    Thank you for your feedback!

  • I, like many others, was not aware of the public engagement on the bike master plan. In addition, it would never have occurred to me that the proposed plan would recommend paving and widening three of the Grand Concourse trails. I was disappointed and shocked. My reasons are these: 1. Pavement is a very unforgiving surface for runners and walkers, the primary users of the trails. 2. Pavement deteriorates and any savings on maintenance will be short-lived. 3. Efforts to keep the trails clear of snow and ice in winter will divert sorely needed funds from sidewalk clearing in the city. Furthermore any use of salt will be environmentally devastating to the precious river system. 4. Widening the trail destroys the "country in the city" feel of the walking experience and damages the plant and tree ecology. 5. The amount of infrastructure the plan demands is out of all proportion to the number of bike users, current and projected. 6. The Rennies River plan recommends a loop to reduce the incline on a portion of the trail when, on the other side of the river, is Rennies Mill Road with limited traffic and little incline. 7. The impact on residents whose homes border the trails can be severe and any municipal effort to expropriate property would be an inexcusable affront to those property owners and to city taxpayers who would be forced to fund the expropriation and the litigation which would inevitably follow. 8. The cost is simply too high for a city which charges high municipal taxes and struggles to maintain the existing infrastructure. The Grand Concourse was a gift to the citizens of the city. I would hope that this council will not be responsible for destroying it.

    G. Christmas asked 5 months ago

    Thanks for your feedback, and sorry to hear that you missed the engagement opportunities! Your comments will be considered moving forward. Please stay connected through this website to hear about future public engagement about each of the shared-use path projects as they advance to the design stage.

  • Why is one of the touchstones in the plan to “Avoid removal of on-Street parking”? Cars are a detriment to civic living, to the environment, and to the general safety of everyone. Our politicians should be actively discouraging the use of cars, and requiring citizens to either park in their driveways or own fewer vehicles is an excellent way to do this. Road space currently reserved for parking should be allocated to pedestrians, runners, cyclists, dog-walkers, stroller pushers, wheelchair users, etc.

    Rob Pittman asked 5 months ago

    Thanks for the question. Although the plan doesn't include any "touchstones," a common theme we heard from residents during public engagement was that they didn't want to lose their on-street parking. This was included in the Engagement Feedback Summary on page 3. 

    Community Acceptance (page 13) is important for the success of any project. This section identifies the need to engage with communities as cycling infrastructure is implemented. Discussion about on-street parking for a specific project would happen at this stage.


  • When will the first phase (i.e. - giving official permission for cyclists to use trails, soft infrastructure such as painted bike lanes) be implemented?

    Rob Pittman asked 5 months ago

    Thanks for the question. Design of the first catalyst project, a shared-use path along Kelly's Brook trail, will begin this year. Funding for construction will depend on future capital budgets. None of the existing trails will be open to people cycling until they've been properly upgraded for comfortable shared-use. 

    Chapter 7, the Action Plan of the Bike St John's Master Plan, describes implementation strategy. Hope this helps answer your questions!

  • I would like to see the proposed bike plan move forward. Shared multi-use paths are commonplace around the world, in both developed and developing nations and people in Newfoundland too can learn to safely share the existing trails as has been proposed through the previous consultations. We can also learn from the other shared paths in our province, and ensure that the trails can accommodate all users safely and without significant environmental impact. The reduction in people having to drive 5km to work and get around the city will impact positively on current efforts to make this province more environmentally conscious, and take steps towards increased human-powered transportation. The suggestion that the painted bike lanes didn't work in the past is not a reason to stop all efforts towards supporting more human-powered transportation. Bicycles have less impact on the trails than runners/hikers, and the trails themselves have already impacted significantly on the natural environment. If this is about fear (for one's safety), then the roll-out should be such that fears can be assuaged by careful planning, enforcement of the rules, and other efforts to create a friendly, hospitable environment for all of these people who want to enjoy and benefit from these trails. I pass many elderly trail users on my many many kilometres on the shared trails and have had nothing but positive, safe interactions. A person on a bike is at least as vulnerable as the person walking in these imagined scenarios, and this is why you rarely if ever hear about collisions between bicycles and people on foot. I think we are barking up the wrong tree by trying to alienate cyclists from using the existing trailways. Thank you for all the time you have already spent researching and consulting people on this issue.

    jennwicks asked 5 months ago

    Thanks for your comment!

  • The plan is a great start to improving cycling in St. John's and to providing more opportunities for current and future generations to adopt a more healthy lifestyle. This is long overdue given the promise that the city has to better utilize its excellent network of trails for broader use in active transportation. I appreciate that the paving of the trails will facilitate greater access by individuals using various mobility aids although from a cycling perspective, the gravel multi-use trails that are in place for the T'rail and around Octagon and Neal's Pond are excellent surfaces. It appears that the running community is concerned about the paving of the trails in the catalyst project so it is important to ensure that it is clear that paving is being considered for other user groups beyond cyclists.

    R Gosine asked 5 months ago

    Thanks for your comment. The bike master plan aims to increase cycling ridership by building comfortable and attractive cycling network. But shared-use paths will be designed for the safety and comfort of it's intended users. A smooth surface would improve comfort and accessibility for a wider variety of users than the granular surface currently in place. In addition to people riding bikes, a smooth surface is more attractive for people pushing strollers, children on tricycles, and people using mobility aids.

  • Hi there. I think it would be a shame to have done all this work on the bike plan and then have nothing actually implemented. It's essential that the priority projects get the money and time they need to be implemented quickly. As well, I hope the extremely quick internal items (like parking buyouts for city employees) are swiftly implemented.

    kmorry asked 5 months ago

    Thanks for your comment. Agreed. 

  • I am a runner and a cyclist. I run lunchtimes on the Rennies River and Virginia trails. I bike on the former railroad with my wife on a tandem bike. I feel putting bikes and walkers/runners on any trail is OK as long as there are rules. We travel slowly on our bike and have a bell to warn people we are coming. Even if ringing it constantly, some people don't hear it - could be their age or the wind or whatever (we often see older people out for a stroll on the trail :)). We feel we must be careful to protect them. I think if you introduce bikes to trails, there should be a code of conduct you must follow. Otherwise someone will get hurt. All too often we see cyclists going flat out down the railbed - a danger to the walkers and runners and to themselves. It is crazy and will lead to accidents unless controlled. My wife is not comfortable on the road so we stick to the trail system on our tandem. We don't want to see anyone hurt by the actions of a cyclist so we are hoping proper rules are developed for all to ensure everyone's safety. Thanks

    BG asked 5 months ago

    Thanks for your comment. People using proper shared-use path etiquette is really important for people to comfortably and enjoyably share trails. Educational campaigns are planned to accompany the opening of new routes.

  • Councillor David Lane has said that the bike master plan is “not set in stone”... please let it not be set in asphalt! In proposing the widening and paving of the existing “nature trails” has the impact on the environment, on the river ecosystem been taken into account? What about the impact on residents whose properties are adjacent to the existing trails? As a daily walker on those trails I am dismayed at the prospect of the change from gravel paths to paved roads. I agree bikers in St. John’s need better safer routes but surely ways can be found that do not compromise the safety and enjoyment of walkers for whom the trails in the Grand Concourse were designed? Nothing is to be gained by setting walkers against bikers. A public meeting at City Hall with adequate notice to citizens would allow a proper forum for airing concerns and proposing solutions that address the needs of both groups.

    Maire O’Dea asked 5 months ago

    Thanks for the questions! The bike master plan is a high-level document outlining a citywide network but each project will include it’s own public engagement and analysis. Environmental impact on the river ecosystem will be assessed and affected residents will be engaged for each specific project at the detail design stage. Each shared-use path will be designed for the safety and enjoyment of people walking and cycling, and their input will help inform design.

  • I hear you want to put bikes. on Rennies River Trail. Bad idea. People don't want to be on trails with bikes no more than bikes want to be on streets with cars. I walk that trail every day with a leashed dog. I say the average age of a walker on that trail is 60. They can't get out of the way of a bike. Especially one sped up with pavement. I have had too many incidents with bikes going too fast on that trail. Pave the trail and you basically make it a street.There are places on that trail not wide enough for two people to pass let alone having a bike. You would destroy what is now a beautiful, natural environment. Try to catch up with the rest of the intelligent world. Have a plan to limit cars in the downtown core and throughout the city so there is more room for bikes where they should be. On existing pavement.

    Fred Hubley asked 6 months ago

    Thanks for your feedback. Your input is being considered as the projects move to the design phase. Each project will go through more public engagement before construction. Please stay connected through this website to hear about future engagement opportunities.


  • Why does it have to be paved? Everyone knows pavement last 1 winter in Newfoundland. Make it durable and lower the maintenance cost by leaving it "au natural" with a dirt/gravel surface.

    Flashdman asked 6 months ago

    Thanks for your feedback. Your input will be considered as the projects move to the design phase. Each project will go through more public engagement before its construction. Please stay connected through this website to hear about future engagement opportunities.


  • i think that widening and paving our beautiful walking trails in and around the City is a truly dreadful idea! In spite of bike users' righteous and justified indignation at inconsiderate drivers in the streets of St John's, many of them are likewise inconsiderate of walkers. When I have encountered them on the trails (in spite of no biking signage), they are fast, reckless and a hazard to all. Widening and paving will destroy the peace and tranquility of those natural trails. Finally, have you not been following the outrage of the general public over the widening of the trails in Gros Morne Park to accommodate vehicles?

    mcourage asked 6 months ago

    Thanks for your feedback. Your input will be considered as the projects move to the design phase. Each project will go through more public engagement before its construction. As routes are built, there will be educational campaigns and programming about respectfully sharing those spaces. Please stay connected through this website to hear about future engagement opportunities.

    --


  • As a runner I just learned that the grand concourse trails will be paved to accommodate bikes??? As a runner I am dead against this.

    Wrangler2 asked 6 months ago

    Thanks for your feedback. Your input will be considered as the projects move to the design phase. Each project will go through more public engagement before its construction. Please stay connected through this website to hear about future engagement opportunities.


  • Why did I (and many others) not hear of any surveys re the master bike plan until after the plan had been implemented? It is obvious I am not the only one when only 1000 persons replied - the population of the St. John's metro area is about ??? 175,000. I have been looking for a place to have my input so would definitely have participated had I known of any surveys. Today the plan is CBC wide with bikers only on the radio talking about how much they want this with no input from walkers or any other groups giving the other side of the equation. I personally have been hit from behind four times by bicycle riders on the (no bike section) Virginia River Trail (VRT) in 2018. This VRT is used by thousands of walkers, hikers, dog walkers, seniors and children every day which reduces health care costs by millions - I am absolutely positive that if you widen this trail by trimming the natural vegetation and pave it - I along with other thousands will abandon this trail to the bikers who currently disrespect all walkers. It will become a bike trail and a bike trail only. Many current elderly walkers will give up walking in our beautiful city and their health will deteriorate greatly. A great loss indeed. VRT is a gem in our city and by making it a shared PAVED trail it will be destroyed. Thank you

    Slamjo asked 6 months ago

    Hello and thank you for reaching out. Sorry to hear that you missed the engagement opportunities! Public engagement for the bike master plan was communicated through social media, public service announcement, email, radio, newspaper and mail-outs. Outside of engagement events and surveys, the project team has been open to receiving feedback throughout the plan development process.

    As for the Virginia River Trail project (and any of the other projects in the plan), there will be more project-specific public engagement during the design and pre-construction stages. The VRT in its current state is not appropriate for shared-use, and bicycles won’t be permitted on the trail until it has been upgraded for the safety and comfort of all users. 

    With your registration on this website you will hear about this project's and other's future engagement opportunities. We regularly send out newsletters to all registered participants. You can also reach out through email at engage@stjohns.ca at any time.