New Street is going on a “road diet.” City council voted 6-1 July 18 to reduce traffic lanes from four to two, and add on-road bike lanes on both sides of New Street between Guelph Line and Walkers Line. The bike lanes will be “buffered” with 0.5 m of paint. The space would provide opportunity later on to add planters, curbs or other hard separators between the bike lanes and traffic lanes.
A centre turn lane will be added in the middle of the road.
The road diet will commence as part of the planned reconstruction of this section of New Street. The remarking of the road is expected to be complete in September. The cost of $210,000 is provided from savings achieved through the tender of the road work.
Staff will report back on the performance of the pilot project prior to the top layer of asphalt being placed on this section of New Street, expected in 2017.
Given current traffic volumes on New Street, staff anticipate this alternative will not significantly impact traffic operations. The introduction of a two-way left-turn lane may serve to reduce conflicts and potentially reduce the risk of rear-end collisions.
Evaluation of the pilot project and determination of its success will be dependent upon a traffic operations review which will examine average travel time for all modes, collision experience and utilization of the cycling facilities. If deemed unsuccessful, the ‘road diet’ alternative can be converted to other identified alternatives without significant costing implications. Transportation staff will monitor the trial road diet and report back in Spring 2017 prior to the planned resurfacing of this section of roadway.
Other options explored by staff to increase cycling infrastructure on New Street included a road widening (cost $1.4 million) and adding a bicycle path in the boulevard on both sides of the street, beside the existing sidewalk (cost: $4.9 million). Staff advised that the boulevard bike path presents funding challenges both in terms of securing the funds and limiting the city’s ability to invest in other cycling infrastructure projects.
Read the Staff Report
My Take: I supported the trial road diet, though none of the alternatives was ideal. We will have an opportunity to assess the impact of the road diet on both cycling and driving, and down the road potentially add infrastructure in the buffered area to separate cyclists and vehicles.
The best cycling option is an on-road bike lane that is separated from cars by beautification measures (trees, planters or green landscaping). Separation-through-beautification makes cycling safer for riders of all ages, and makes the cycling experience more pleasant. An on-road lane allows cyclists to go through intersections with the lights, cross side streets without stopping, and avoid collisions with pedestrians. These were all issues identified by cyclists with the existing Centennial Bike Path. These same issues would exist with the boulevard bicycle path alternative. Plus, the $4.9m cost was unjustified, given that cyclists who want to ride off-road in the boulevard already have the option of riding on sidewalks in Burlington (with the exception of the downtown).