Starting in late August, New Street will be narrowed for one year between Guelph Line and Walkers Line as part of a cycling pilot project, reducing the road from four lanes to three, and adding buffered bike lanes on both sides. There will be one lane of vehicular travel in each direction, with a centre turn lane. This is the existing vehicular configuration of New St in the stretch between Guelph Line and Martha St., with a bike lane on the north side and sharrows on the south.
During the one-year pilot project, city staff will closely monitor and track detailed data, including average speed, number of collisions and cycling usage. Feedback from residents will be valuable throughout the pilot. Please share your feedback at www.burlington.ca/newstreetdiet or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The cost to repaint the road is $210,000 and can be accommodated within the existing budget for the road work. This section of New Street is scheduled to be resurfaced in 2017 so there will be no added cost to either return the road to its current setup if the pilot is not successful, or to keep the new bike lanes.
Road marking removal will take place starting Aug. 22 to prepare the road for lane-painting, which will begin on Aug. 26. The road is expected to be ready on Aug. 27.
The city has prepared Frequently Asked Questions about this project: New Street Road Diet Q and A FINAL
City Council approved the pilot project 6-1 on July 18. Other options presented to council were to make no changes, to add a cycle lane only on the north side of New Street, to widen the road ($1.4 million) or to add a bike path in the boulevard beside the sidewalk ($4.9 million). Two council members supported the $4.9 million option at committee, Counc. Sharman (who did not support the road narrowing) and the mayor (who changed his vote at council to support the road narrowing). For background on this matter see: New Street Cycling Options; Reduced vehicle lanes approved
For more information about cycling visit the city’s webpage dedicated to cycling.
My Take: I supported the one-year trial so we can evaluate the impact on vehicles and on cycling before making permanent changes. We’ve been going around and around at council on the issue of cycling; it was time to put the matter to a test, and put it to rest one way or the other. When staff report back in 2017, if there has been significant negative impact on traffic and no measurable increase in cycling, I will support changing the road back to the existing configuration.
The motion at committee to spend $4.9 million to add a path for bikes beside the sidewalk was a non-starter for me and a waste of taxpayers money, when cyclists can already ride on the sidewalk and the existing sidewalk would need to be ripped up to add the new path. That money can be better spent on transit, infrastructure upgrades, bylaw enforcement – even higher priority cycling infrastructure, like adding paths in hydro corridors that cross the city.
I’ve heard from many of you who are concerned about both the cost of the pilot and the potential impact on traffic. We will have a chance to measure the traffic impact, but I agree the cost is high even if it is within the budget. I also note that council – narrowly – turned down my motion to add free transit for seniors at a fraction of that cost. I believe transit and cycling must be considered together when discussing ways to reduce car use, and investments must be made based on assisting the greatest number of people.
Over the next year, please let me know your experiences in this stretch as a cyclist, driver, or both to help inform my decision next Spring. As someone who uses the road regularly, I’ll also be part of this experiment.