Richmond Hill is a large suburban community in the York Region of Ontario. It is part of the Greater Toronto Area. The 2015 complete redesign of Highway 7 East in Richmond Hill and Markham to include bus rapid transit, bike lanes, and pedestrian improvements, was one of nine Complete Streets projects profiled in TCAT’s Complete Street Transformations book.
Formerly a divided regional road oriented solely to motor vehicles, a complete redesign has brought bus rapid transit, bike lanes, and pedestrian improvements. Highway 7 connects the two municipalities of Richmond Hill and Markham, and increased intensification along this section created an enabling environment to support the rapid transit and active transportation expansions. The project cost $308 million to complete, and took five years (2005-2015), from the beginning of the design phase to the end of construction.
- New, dedicated right of way for bus rapid transit (rapidway) along the middle of the street
- Sidewalks and expanded pedestrian space on both sides
- Street trees and lighting fixtures
- Buffered bike lanes and left turn bike boxes
- Speed limit lowered from 80km/h to 60 km/h
- Viva stations designed to be accessible for all users, with gently sloped ramps, wide, push-button doors, and way-finding signage
- Annual collision rates have been reduced from between 250 and 350 per year to 104 in 2015, the first full year after construction was completed. These numbers include collisions between motor vehicles, and between motor vehicles and cyclists or pedestrians.
- Transit ridership increased by 10%, and the average transit commute time was reduced by over 30%.
- Pedestrian counts performed at different points along the street in 2015 were up 61% compared to six years prior.
- The number of total annual cyclists at Valleymede and Hwy 7 (north side) was recorded at 16,000 for 2014.