Sunday, November 06, 2011

Getting to the Brick Works from Pottery Road

Three possible routes: red, green, and yellow (see below for descriptions)

The Don Valley Brick Works has undergone a transformation in recent years and has opened up under the care of Evergreen Canada as the Evergreen Brick Works. Evergreen has done a masterful job of restoring the buildings and updating the site for multiple uses including a farmer's market, a native plant nursery and a skating rink in the winter. The place is worth a visit.

Unfortunately access other than by car has been and continues to be a challenge. The TTC runs a bus there but only on Saturdays. The 28A Davisville bus extends its route to the Brick Works 8AM - 6 PM. Evergreen offers a shuttle bus from Broadview subway station that travels every 20 minutes between 7 AM to 7 PM (4:30 PM on weekends). Access routes by foot and by bicycle remain difficult and at times safety-challenged.

Improved intersection at Bayview Avenue includes a new pedestrian crossing on the north side

Recently the city has done a complete makeover of Pottery Road. It was supposed to re-open September 5 but due to issues with an unstable slope it remains closed until November 30. Fortunately, there is safe access for pedestrians and cyclists to make it through. In addition there is now a pedestrian crosswalk (with a crossing button on both sides) at the intersection of Pottery Rd and Bayview Ave so this is definitely a positive step forward.

Therefore it makes sense to review the access options to the Brick Works from Pottery Road. If you look at the map, there are three possible routes. Based on colours I will describe each route and their pros and cons.

Red Route

Path up side of hill. Ravine access road is just to the right (don't go that way)

From the intersection at Pottery and Bayview, cross at the lights and turn right (north). Go up the hill a short distance. When you reach a park access road that winds up through a small ravine to the north west, you will also see a dirt path going up the hill to your left. This path is very steep and can be slippery in wet conditions but can be managed with care. I don't recommend this route for any cyclists except those with good mountain bikes. At the top of the hill you will find a railway. It's OK - currently it is not in use and there are even small trees growing through the ties. Cross the tracks and scramble up a short steep embankment and this will bring you into the north east corner of the old quarry.

View of Brick Works ponds from the top of the slope

The top edge offers one of the best views of the quarry ponds. There is a dirt road which goes south and this will lead you to the north edge of the Brick Works complex. While going down the winding gravel road you will see a climbing tower built by Outward Bound, one of Evergreen's tenants. You can also take a detour to a lookout or scramble down the slope on one of the informal paths that lead into the pond area.

Green Route

Median is about 2m wide but only a painted line separates you from traffic. Be careful!

From the intersection at Pottery and Bayview, cross at the lights and turn left (south). Follow the paved median beside Bayview. This can be a bit unnerving because traffic comes up behind you at quite a clip. The speed limit on Bayview was recently reduced from 70 kph to 60 kph but this doesn't make you feel much safer. As you continue along around the corner you will notice a new access road that gets you into the back parking are of the Brick Works. At some point there will be Jersey barriers placed along this route but until then care must be used here. This is the shortest access route and is usable by both walkers and cyclists.

Yellow Route

Start of Yellow Route trail

This route starts immediately on the west side of the CN railway crossing. Getting to this point is the hardest part because you must cross two lanes of traffic with no aids other than your wits. When you cross the river, the only pedestrian access is on the north side so you need to cross the tracks and then scoot across the road (there has been talk of building a pedestrian bridge on the south side but this will be sometime in the future when gravy stops flowing down the Don River). Care must be used at this point. Once you make it across Pottery Road, this route turns out to be the nicest of the three.

Trail runs close to railroad so be careful

The informal path here follows a route between the railway tracks and the road. Safely ensconced between road and rail the path allows for mostly single file passage almost all the way to the entrance of the Brick Works. The path exits onto Bayview about 25m east of the lights. Fortunately a newly installed pedestrian activated button allows for easy crossing of Bayview. This route was recommended by me as the preferred route but unfortunately due to a point where it narrows near a rail installation, the city wouldn't go for it.

So there you have it. Recent changes make for easier access. Eventually the Green Route will be improved. Until then you can choose your preferred route based on your own comfort level.