The Credit Woodlands - Sharing Lanes Design

Part 1: Evolving Traffic Safety

For most of us, it’s hard to remember a time when we all rode around without seatbelts with half a dozen kids in the back of the station wagon. If you look at in-vehicle fatalities from the seventies and before, the numbers are startling — especially when you factor in the smaller population at the time. Since then, we have done much to make our vehicles and our streets safer for drivers and their passengers. On the vehicle side, we’ve added lap belts, air bags, anti-locks brakes, traction control, centre-rear brake lights and collision avoidance systems. With road design, we have added break-away poles, reduced road-side obstructions, widened lanes, improved intersection angles, added barriers with crumple zones, funneled traffic onto high-capacity multi-lane roads and more.

The impact of these changes has been undeniable. Population adjusted, in-vehicle fatality and injury rates have been halved since 1975 and mileage adjusted rates have fallen even further. All of these improvements have come at a cost though. Making our streets safer (and more convenient) for vehicles has made them more dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists. The only improvements have come from the unfortunate fact that walking and cycling rates have dropped since the 1970s.

Vehicles and streets are safer for car occupants today. Our streets still require more work for pedestrians.

Engineering Safer Streets

We achieve safer streets with the three E’s — education, enforcement and engineering (road design). Education is only the first step. On the enforcement front, we have hired more officers, reduced speed limits and introduced school-zone automated speed enforcement. Even with these efforts, engineering, or road design, is an important part of the mix. Of course, major road changes are expensive. So, we’ve started with the most economical improvements we can make to enhance safety on many streets. Simple features like centre and edge lines, speed cushions, marked crosswalks and interactive speed signs have been mainstays of this work.

Complete Streets

Safer streets are also more livable. People identify their favourite streets in a community as being those with places for walking, cycling and recreation. Favourite streets also have slower speeds and fewer lanes. While we will always need streets, people really do like when we have a better balance between people and cars — even when people consider the slightly increased travel times this can create for drivers.

Part 2: The Credit Woodlands

Anyone who knows The Credit Woodlands at all, knows that traffic safety and volume is an issue. In addition to the many neighbourhood residents the street serves, people use the route to travel between Dundas and Burnhamthorpe. When door-knocking, one resident after another has raised concerns about the traffic on the street — something we have heard repeated with calls and emails to 311 and our offices. Because of recent work we have done, there has been a focus on the ring road, but safety is an issue the entire length of the street. More measures are needed from one end to the other.

The road around Bert Fleming Park was not a roundabout.

The Traffic Circle

The circular road in the middle of The Credit Woodlands has been there for decades. It was likely built for greenspace reasons rather than with safety as its primary goal. While the road layout today might suggest it was required, it could have easily been laid out as a traditional four-way intersection at the time when the subdivision streets were yet to be constructed.

The road around Bert Fleming Park was not a roundabout. The British often call the design a gyratory — an irregular, non-urban traffic circle designed for vehicles to travel at speed. Roundabouts have smaller, much tighter circles. The problem with the street, as designed, has been underscored by the multiple traffic studies that have shown the majority of drivers driving much too fast around the circle. So, while roundabouts are safer overall than standard intersections, this circular road created real safety challenges — particularly with the adjacent and nearby school, retail and townhouse properties. In addition to the speed issue, the design meant that pedestrians had to cross the road twice with vehicles not required to stop and often busy watching for traffic already travelling around the ring.

The importance of reducing speeds can’t be overstated as the following graphic clearly explains:

Survivability by Traffic Speed

Collisions & Avoidance

Imagine a river with rapids too fast to swim across. We wouldn’t say the river was safe for swimming just because nobody had drowned, and nor would we say there was no need for a bridge simply because nobody crossed the stream. Likewise, pedestrian and cyclist collision statistics don’t tell the whole story. People avoid travelling where they don’t feel safe. We have streets like Terry Fox at Windsor Hill and Rathburn by St. David of Wales School where it’s not easy crossing the road. We have to do more in such locations and we are doing so.

In multiple traffic studies 76-97% of vehicles were speeding.

The Credit Woodlands is a place where many people haven’t felt safe and, as City leaders, it’s not enough to accept the status quo just because change is hard. Furthermore, we have to look at whole streets. Slowing down traffic on one part of a street tends to improve safety along the entire street. We still need to address the entirety of a street, but any one safety measure contributes to the broader safety.

The Credit Woodlands - Collisions Map
2016-22 collision locations. Injury locations in orange.

All that said, collisions are a real risk along The Credit Woodlands. Between 2016 and and 2022, there have been 27 reported collisions (minor ones go unreported) on The Credit Woodlands with ten on or near the circle — and two of those resulting in injuries. As you can see, one spot in particular has been an issue. Meanwhile, our traffic studies have shown more than three quarters of drivers there speeding — with as many as 97% travelling at excessive speeds. These statistics are consistent with how people in the area feel. As many as 83% of people said they were scared or uneasy about the old street elements in the area such pedestrian crossings and street width.

83% of people said they were scared or uneasy about the old street elements in the area.

Part 3: Sharing Lanes

It is with the desire to inexpensively create safer, more livable streets that the City of Mississauga created the Sharing Lanes program. Sharing Lanes is part of our Tactical Urbanism effort. While tactical urbanism might sound like a program run by army special forces, it’s actually an implementation approach that develops low-cost, quick-to-implement ideas, pilot projects and experimental solutions. The ideas are designed to be initiatives that can be tailored and rolled out to different parts of the city, or can be relatively easily rolled back if deemed unsuccessful. Sharing Lanes is about enabling new ideas and new ways to achieve results. As such, each Sharing Lanes project is not just an investment in one neighbourhood, but is also part of a broader effort to design a better city. The pace of change in our city and society overall is ever increasing and we need not just new ideas, but new kinds of solutions and new ways of arriving at them.

The Sharing Lanes Design Philosophy

The Sharing Lanes approach recognizes that streets are about much more than just getting cars from one place to another. Streets help tie together neighbourhoods. Our homes are oriented around them. Couples go for walks, people take their dogs for exercise, children (and people of all ages) ride their bikes. On the best of our streets, people gather on park benches under shady trees and enjoy features that make their street unique. Sharing Lanes seeks to lean into this — creating places for people to interact where only cars could go in the past. Sharing Lanes animates these new people spaces encouraging fun and interaction.

Sharing Lanes is about enabling new ideas and new ways to achieve results.

Part 4: Project Engagement

While every project has its own engagement requirements, there are three community feedback periods that every project tends to have — Need Identification, Options Assessment, Post-Implementation Review. The Credit Woodlands project is consistent with this.

Need Identification

Traffic volume and traffic safety have been an issue that has been raised by the residents of The Credit Woodlands for years. Members of our team met residents of The Credit Woodlands at their doors for multiple election cycles. It has even been a top issue raised during federal elections. The Mayor’s office has been contacted over the years as well and our 311 service has received numerous calls. Not that it takes feedback to see traffic safety needs addressing on the street. Anyone crossing at any one of a number of points can see how chaotic the street can be at busy times. It’s for these reasons that The Credit Woodlands is a priority for our team.

Options Assessment

If the City was considering putting a splash pad in a park and nobody wanted it, it wouldn’t make much sense to do. There’s more involved though with some issues. Sometimes, we have to cut down trees people would prefer remain. If a bridge needs repairs, the project has to go ahead regardless of area sentiment. Community engagement is not a public referendum — especially in those cases. However, we often learn useful information for even priority projects. Sometimes, we are presenting options where more than one course of action could easily be implemented. Other times, we tweak a project based on feedback.

We knew we needed to get started with The Credit Woodlands and do something. To move more quickly than our typical road projects take, our Sharing Lanes team proposed the changes to the traffic circle through their work. We jumped at the chance to make a difference sooner than later, but our commitment to feedback about the ideas is sincere.

We mailed information about the project to everyone between the Credit River & Erindale Station Rd.

The following is some of the work we did to make local residents aware of the project:

  • We mailed information about the project to every resident between Dundas and Burnhamthorpe, the river and Erindale Station Rd.
  • We contacted both School Trustees for the area as well as the Principals of St. Gerard’s and Springfield Public School and provided them with information they could share with parents.
  • We canvassed door-to-door all those residents immediately adjacent to the traffic circle.
  • We put up roadside signs on the traffic circle.
  • We sent an email to everyone in the Ward who has provided us an email address.
  • We promoted the projected on the City’s website and Councillor Horneck’s website.

This awareness effort directed people to the following engagement opportunities:

  • Councillor Horneck held an online townhall meeting.
  • The Sharing Lanes team created an online survey.
  • We met with the Parent Councils for both schools in the immediate area.
  • We held an in-person engagement session at Springfield School with our team and numerous City staff in attendance.
  • To engage children, we invited area school kids to draw ideas for the road murals.

While some of our most vocal feedback was critical, the majority of residents support our efforts. Driving this, of course, is that 83 percent of people uneasy or scared about some aspects of the prior street design. The vast majority of people agreed we needed to take real action. Opinions on what we should specifically do, varied. Some insisted we should put in speed bumps. Others hate that idea. Some people want speed cameras the full length of the street while others wish we would get rid of the existing cameras in school zones. The same varied opinions exist about more policing.

People were clearer about which segment of the circle we should close though. We were originally thinking of closing the south segment, but residents in the local townhouse development were rightfully concerned about crosswalk conflicts with the entrance to their complex. Keeping the southern segment open also provides crosswalks closer to St. Gerard’s School. So, that’s the route we took.

Note: This article covers the third period of public engagement — Post-Implementation Review below after outlining The Credit Woodlands project design.

Kids Drawings
Feedback comes in many forms.

Part 5: The New Street Design


As part of the broader goals of the Sharing Lanes program and specific needs at The Credit Woodlands, we had the following goals for the project:

  1. Foster conversations both within the City of Mississauga as an organization and in the broader community about the re-evaluating the priorities of neighbourhood streets — from solely car oriented to pedestrian, cycling, transit and car balanced to better serve all users.
  2. Reduce the speed of traffic through the area of Bert Fleming Park as part of a longer-term plan to reduce speed along all of The Credit Woodlands.
  3. Create safer pedestrian crossings at locations where traffic is required to come to a full stop.
  4. Create greater opportunities for recreation and play including providing better access to the greenspace of Bert Fleming Park.
  5. Discourage the amount of out-of-neighbourhood traffic on The Credit Woodlands due to people using the street as a shortcut between Burnhamthorpe and Dundas.
Streetside Murals at The Credit Woodlands
Sharing Lanes seeks to animate streets for all and make them safer.

Design Constraints

The design team had to achieve these goals while factoring in the following constraints:

  1. Cost: To improve the traffic safety of our streets across Mississauga, we must explore inexpensive options. The traditional methods of road design take much too long from a budgeting perspective. You can see more about the budget for this project here.
  2. Maintenance: The project needs to be easy to maintain for our Transportation and Works team.
  3. Future Adaptability: As a pilot project the design needs to be relatively easy to revise or even completely reverse over time.
The Credit Woodlands Traffic Circle from Overhead
The new layout with mural work in progress.

Design Elements

To address these goals and constraints, the Sharing Lanes team, working with our Transportation and Works department, as well as others, designed the following new street features:

  1. The closure of one segment of the traffic circle.
  2. Conversion from one-way to two-way traffic.
  3. The introduction of two new intersections with crosswalks.
  4. The use of side murals along the active street. (The rationale for the murals is two-fold. In addition to enlivening the area, they have been shown to reduce traffic collisions by as much as 50 percent.)
  5. The creation of a vibrant recreation and play area on the closed road segment to make it more than just a closed road.
Bloomberg Study Clipping

Part 6: The Road Forward

Post-Implementation Review

The City generally reviews any project of significant size or any initiative employing unique solutions. The Credit Woodlands street re-alignment is no exception. Some of the review is organic. People frequently let us know what they think about any change (or perceived need for change) with critics being especially vocal. Major projects also tend to have more structured reviews.

With The Credit Woodlands project, the organic feedback is already rolling in. As for our reviewing the project, we are still finalizing our long-term process, but here is how it will likely work. We want to start by seeing how the changes work during the school year and with people having a chance to first get used to the re-alignment. We also want the opportunity to add some science (data) to this by evaluating the impact on speeds and accident statistics from the changes. In this way, we can properly compare street designs and make fact-based decisions. This should lead to us having an update in the Spring (later than originally planned, but as recommended by the Sharing Lanes team). We will review the project again at the one-year mark and provide another update. Finally, this project is a two-year pilot, and we plan to review the project and the long-term plan for the street layout after 24 months.

Reviews of traffic safety features are generally not about whether people like them or not, but rather examine whether the initiatives are making our streets safer and more welcoming for all.

Feedback from Credit Heights

“I just wanted to share my positive feedback at the work that is being completed around Bert Fleming Park.

Walking through the area over this past week it has been lovely to have proper crosswalks to walk with my dog. This weekend, in the large painted area against the townhouses to the north, there was a big group of children playing games, and enjoying the bright space.

The biggest impact for me personally is that the new design has deterred speeders from racing around the traffic circle and up Credit Heights. I feel much safer walking my dog at night now that this activity has ended.

As well, I used to constantly see people going the wrong way or getting confused about when to yield in the circle, so this design has fixed that.

I understand that the Sharing Spaces work is billed as temporary. I so hope that the traffic changes and large play area can be retained.”

We have had feedback, both supportive and critical,
but feeling and being safer has been at the heart of our efforts.

Future Options

There are several options for the future of the area from shorter-term enhancements to longer-term changes. These include the following:

  1. Keeping the new design and making the changes permanent with long-term features replacing temporary features such as the traffic barriers.
  2. Removing the asphalt on the closed section of street and expanding the park.
  3. Adding new features and landscaping to the park. Note: Flower beds have already been added and tulip bulbs have been planted. Additional park work is planned for the Spring.
  4. Implementing a properly designed roundabout. Note that this option was NOT implemented already because roundabouts can cost several times that of the redesign that was implemented.
  5. Reversing various changes.

Further Traffic Calming

As already mentioned, much more work on improving traffic safety on our streets is needed — both on The Credit Woodlands and across the city. We will continue to make that work a priority in the months and years ahead.

Learn more about the importance of traffic calming and our efforts to make streets safer below:

Stay Informed!

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