Residents will recall that New street from Guelph Line to Martha Street is slated for resurfacing this Spring, and Halton Region is replacing a significant portion of the curb and gutter on the south side of New from Guelph Line to Burloak that was damaged during the watermain replacement project in 2014. As part of this project, staff had recommended painting a bike lane on the North side of New Street from Guelph Line to Martha, within the existing road width, and within the existing budget, without reducing travel lanes or the centre turn lane. I supported this approach.
However, in June 2014, Council referred the issue of bike lanes on New Street to the 2015 capital budget process and asked the Director of Transportation Services to investigate the feasibility of widening the road to accommodate either painted on-road bike lanes or “roll-over curbs” on both sides of New all the way to Burloak.
Either option would require widening and necessitate tree removals, utility relocations and new curbs and gutters. The preliminary cost estimate provided at that time was $1.6m for the portion from Martha to Guelph Line, and $8.5m from Guelph Line to Burloak Dr. Both of these estimates represent the incremental additional cost of widening the road over and above the resurfacing costs. There would also be added annual operating and maintenance costs.
Staff did not recommend adding these costs to the 2015 budget, in view of competing demands for funding, and stand by their original recommendation to accommodate cycling on New St without a road widening. Similarly, no member of council moved to add these additional costs to the 2015 budget, so they are not funded.
As such, New Street resurfacing is proceeding as per the original staff recommendation, without a widening. Council will have a workshop on the Transportation Master Plan on June 18, 2015. Part of the discussion will be around Complete Streets and include facilities for cyclists. The capital budget and forecast currently includes $4.25 M for on-road bike lanes.
During budget discussions, issues were raised with respect to the prioritization of this expenditure compared to other cost pressures for infrastructure renewal and recommendations that may arise from the AMEC study on the Aug 4 2014 flood event. Staff will address these issues in a report to the C&CS committee on July 7, 2015.
Meanwhile, the cycling committee recently presented their annual workplan to council, and their infrastructure priorities do not include bike lanes on New Street west of Guelph Line, but do include a request for protected bike lanes from Guelph Line East to Burloak. Read their full report here: Item 9
In a separate memo to council, staff also reported back on whether installing bike lanes on Guelph Line and Appleby Line, from New Street to Lakeshore, increased cycling, reduced collisions, or had a negative impact on vehicular travel time. They found the bike lanes did not increase the number of cyclists, however they support retaining the lanes “as building blocks in the development of the city-wide cycling network.” Staff noted no negative impact on vehicular travel time; although there was a slight reduction in collisions it is “not statistically significant.” Read the full staff memo here: Review of buffered bike lanes on Walkers Line and Appleby Line south of New Street
In related news, staff proposed the formation of an umbrella Integrated Transportation Advisory Committee that would include representatives from the Cycling Committee as well as the Sustainable Development Committee. The Transit Committee was sunset last year, but this new committee will include transit as part of their workplan. The committee will meet four times per year. More information is available here: Item 10
My Take: I continue to support staff’s plan to accommodate a cycle lane on New within the existing road configuration. When this item was referred to a post-election budget, I shared my concern that this would simply give unrealistic hope to cyclists that council would fund the additional costs. We knew then the competing budget priorities. Perhaps the lessons here are that council must step up to make decisions among spending priorities, including in the months before an election, and residents are wise to be skeptical of decisions deferred to after an election. I’m also please with the formation of the Integrated Transportation Advisory Committee that brings together all forms of active transportation. That will help ensure that advice to council considers transit as well as cycling and other active transportation together, rather than having siloed discussions or funding requests.
Read my earlier articles on this issue here:
Council considers widening New St for raised bike lanes for $2m
Staff recommend one bike lane on New, two lanes of traffic, one full centre turn lane; June 16
Bike path proposed on one side of New St
Bike lanes on New St? Public meeting Dec. 5
Your Take: What’s your view of the plan to proceed as originally recommended, with a painted bike lane on the North side of New Street only? What are your thoughts on the new Integrated Transportation Advisory Committee? Leave a comment below.