How Brampton launched their city cycling guide

In 2018 the City of Brampton launched a new cycling guide to showcase its network, and contacted me to work with them. They’d been referred to me because of my previous work on the Mississauga Cycling Map. We started work on the map in February 2018 and finished in May of that year.

After a phone consultation with the Active Transportation (AT) Project Manager, he sent me a list of features that needed to be on the map. I downloaded most of the datasets needed for this map from Brampton’s OpenData portal.

The first image I sent was a black and white map of Brampton’s roads, so the AT team could approve the size and scale of the layout.

Brampton cycling map - layout draft - Julie Witmer

After I added and styled more basemap layers, I sent a couple of options for styling the roads – they chose the simple white roads. 

detail of Brampton cycling map draft - road style option 1
detail of Brampton cycling map - road style option 2

Next we worked on font choice and labelling. They had a list of preferred fonts, chosen for accessibility and legibility, and I labelled a small section of the map for approval on size and density of labels. I always do this because labelling is the single most time-consuming part of this process.

detail of Brampton cycling map - road label test section

Once they approved that small section, I finished labelling the rest of the road network – starting with major roads, then roads that are part of or near the cycling network, then on to minor streets as space permitted.

At the beginning of the project they sent me preliminary files of the City’s cycling network, along with photos and descriptions of each type of cycling facility, which I used to recategorize much of the network. I submitted drafts showing these preliminary on-road and off-road cycling routes.

detail of Brampton cycling map draft - preliminary on-road cycling network

While I worked on labelling the roads, the project team printed these drafts and marked revisions on them – such as defining recreational trail surface (paved or natural), routes to be deleted and added (new construction), and updating categories – and emailed me photos or scans of the requested changes. They also got feedback from the their Cycling Advisory Committee.

Next I added and labelled points of interest on the map: transit stations, schools, recreation/community centres, parks, neighbourhoods – and made corrections to the path/cycling network as needed. I compared the lines with satellite imagery to make sure there were no segment gaps.

detail of downtown area Brampton cycling map draft

They requested a small zoomed-in map of the Brampton Loop, indicating existing and future trails along this route, which the City’s Communications department added to their layout for the back of the map. 

small map of Brampton Loop route

I sent a high-resolution file of the full city map, to which they added a legend describing the different types of infrastructure. I like how they’ve included photos to show what each type looks like.

Brampton cycling map legend describing cycling infrastructure types

As part of this project I gave the City’s GIS department updated data files of the newly-edited cycling network. This included new routes that I manually digitized,  corrections to existing routes, and category changes for some existing infrastructure. I also provided a summary of total distances for each classification of infrastructure to add to their Active Transportation Master Plan, which was endorsed by city council in September 2019.

Cities usually update their cycling maps every 2-4 years, depending on how much infrastructure has been added or updated, and may wait until a large project is complete before promoting it with a new map.

Here’s the finished product! The current map and guide is very popular at local cycling events. It’s also available for download on the City’s website.

2018 Brampton Cycling Map

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