When she was a child, Janine McClintock rode her bicycle everywhere throughout her small hometown.
Several years later, in 2018, the Brighton resident turned to a bike again for fitness reasons. McClintock cycled alone locally and thought it would be nice to build a biking community in Brighton -- where people of various abilities could share routes and find others to bike with -- so she started a Facebook group. The COVID-19 pandemic then hit and altered those plans.
“I would like to see the town of Brighton be a safer place for residents to cycle in on a daily basis,” McClintock told the Independent.
“We can do better to encourage active lifestyles in our community by having designated cycling lanes on major routes in town, more bike trails in or linking municipal parks, and bike racks downtown and outside businesses.”
Brighton council recently reviewed the municipality’s strategic plan, approved in 2019, during two special council meetings. Promoting wellness in the community is part of the strategic plan.
Brighton’s parks and recreation department is charged with fulfilling a number of those objectives, which includes implementing the recreation trails master plan recommendations that hail from a 2010 report.
The report states the municipality should continue to work with public agencies and private landowners to secure public access for appropriate recreational activities in locations that are environmentally sustainable and in a manner that is consistent with ecological objectives.
The desire to have a trails committee was discussed during the strategic plan meetings.
Brighton’s parks and recreation director, Jim Millar, said he’s interested in seeing additional trails.
“We’re limited with our trail system because of land ownership,” Millar said.
“A lot of the designated trail areas are owned by other individuals. If a property is being developed, we try to work with the developer to develop a trail system within that development. We do not have much land that we can put trails on that we haven’t already – same with bikeable trails,” he said.
“Going forward, it has a lot to do with our roads department. Any roads that they are redeveloping, they’re looking at adding cycle lanes.”
Brighton’s trail system runs from the south end to the north, meandering through Butler Creek. “That’s our goal is to take it basically from Gosport and take it north up to Proctor Park,” Millar said.
Municipal employees are currently tasked with developing terms of reference and the mandate for the trails committee.
McClintock appreciates the paved shoulders/bike lanes on the major roads in and out of Brighton on Hwy. 2, parts of Hwy. 30 and County Road 64.
“While infrastructure supports cyclists passing through Brighton, there is not much for cyclists in town,” McClintock said. “There are no paved shoulders or lanes on Ontario Street, Prince Edward Street or Main Street, making it intimidating to ride on the road if you are not used to it.”
Currently, in terms of trails accessible for cycling, she points to a short trail off Ontario Street to the west, the Tobey trail, which she isn’t certain is meant for bikes, and the trail along Presqu'ile Parkway leading into Presqu'ile Provincial Park.
Deputy Mayor Laura Vink is interested in creating a Brighton that is more friendly for cyclists and pedestrians alike.
“It’s a healthy community – it’s a community where you can get anywhere on your bike or (by walking),” Vink said.
“I think that’s what people want nowadays as well – you don’t need to leave your community to do those sorts of things.”
The deputy mayor ultimately wanted the vision of a walkable, bikeable community included in the strategic plan because these endeavours take time, planning and money to accomplish. “We do have some trails already but we’re looking at linking them up,” she noted.
“I’d love to be able to get on my bike and take a trail, bike on the road maybe a little bit and then take a trail into town.” She would also like to see a trail down to Presqu’ile and trails leading to other areas of Brighton. “I think that’s of benefit to everyone,” Vink said.
“I think it will take years for us to get there but I think it’s a good goal for a community like Brighton.”
Natalie Hamilton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Northumberland News