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Seeking feedback on the future of transit

burlington transit logoThe city is looking for your ideas on the future of transit in Burlington as it roles out the city’s 25 year strategic plan, along with the creation of the new Official Plan and Transportation Master Plan.

Some of the ideas being discussed:

  • frequency of transit: time for 10 or 15 minute headways?
  • turning car lanes into transit lanes
  • real-time schedule software; does this information change the way you use transit?
  • what do you expect from transit? Eg. Takes you where you want to go, when you want to go, in a reasonable time, at reasonable cost. Which of these is most important, or all they all equally important?
  • your ideas for improving transit

Get involved and share your ideas at LetsTalkBurlington.com.

 

I was inspired to seek public office because I believe, like so many of you, “I can do something about that” on the issues we face. As councilor, my role is to take a stand on what’s best for residents and go to bat for it. Pushback is inevitable from those who don’t have the community’s interests at heart. I will stand with you and for you, to achieve the best interests of our city, without caving to unacceptable compromise in the name of consensus.

35 Comments

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  1. A couple of additional points for your consideration:
    1. The Burlington.ca web page for collecting feedback has been taken down.
    2. There is zero data collection happening and there has been none for at least 2 months now.
    3. Bike are permitted to ride on sidewalks already in Burlington.

    • 1. Forgive me, the web page is back up now
      2. Another request for forgiveness, data collection is happening but it is incomplete because it is only collecting data for people who have bluetooth enabled on their phone and pass through either the intersection at Guelph or Walkers Line.

      • Data collection is also incomplete since it simply states it takes 72 seconds longer to travel the distance between Walkers Line and Guelph Line at peak times westbound. It should read, after waiting ?# of minutes to turn left or right onto New Street it now takes 72 seconds longer to travel the distance. Or after waiting ?# of minutes in gridlock at Walkers and New and squeezing your way into the now single lane of traffic, it takes 72 seconds longer to travel the distance. If it simply added 72 seconds to the commute I doubt there would be 2118 signatures on the online petition with daily accounts of how long it takes to make a turn or how unsafe residents feel the merge lane is. Also there is no data being collected on the feeder streets in the winter because it can’t be done using the rubber tubing.

    • A couple more points for your consideration:
      1. Downtown is about to get a massive influx of new people in the 5 new condominiums that are going to be built over the next couple years, not including the new one at the Fairview Go station, the other 5 new condos near the Aldershot Go station, and the additional 7 new housing developments east of Walkers Line. My educated guess is that they will mostly be using cars to get around in town. How is the city going to handle such a large group? Where is the planning for that?
      2. What has the impact been on local businesses with regard to number of customers, parking for those customers, and deliveries/shipping?

  2. All the comments posted here so far are very interesting, as they have become not about bike lanes and transit, but are intelligent people of the community drilling down to the real problem.

    James, I understand your passion for bike lanes, but the others I believe are discussing intensification of population into an existing area (Not just in Burlington but Globally).

    If I am wrong please ignore this comment.

  3. This road diet on New street is by far the worst idea Burlington has ever implemented… excuse me, third worst idea. Number 1 is the lane reduction work done on the QEW Niagara/403 junction at Brant Street to “encourage” people to move North. Number 2 is spending far too much money on a pier with no purpose.

    The fact of the matter is that there is a perfectly good bike path that runs parallel to New Street. There are hundreds of people who use it every day. It’s even well protected. By contrast, I’ve seen a whopping total of 4 bike riders using this new bike lane since the ill-conceived notion was implemented and it’s not well-protected. In fact, it’s an accidental death waiting to happen as cars merge from two lanes to one at Walkers Line.

    We have a city that needs efficiency, and needs to move cars quickly all along New Street. The city must consider the commuting “community” that has to drive back and forth from Mississauga/Toronto every day and makes heavy use of New Street as an alternative to sitting in stop-and-go traffic on the highway from Appleby to Brant (see my previously mentioned number 1 worst idea Burlington has ever implemented).

    Removing a lane on a major thru-way like New Street is counter-productive. It costs people and businesses time and money. How does one put a dollar figure on driver’s time and anguish and the effects on local businesses from having to put up with this idea? I drive on New street every day and by my early indications, it’s a total disaster. It used to be fairly efficient. I could safely pass someone who was making a left turn. I could safely pass a city bus picking up passengers. Traffic used to flow through there quite effectively. Today it’s slow and incredibly inefficient even before there was construction at the intersection at Guelph Line. Oh, and speaking of left turns, try making one during rush hour. The facts speak for themselves.

    How much money did we waste by making this change? $210,000! I don’t condone graffiti in any form but I remember when those lovely, colourful signs first went up notifying Burlingtonians about the “road diet”, I noticed that someone wrote “WTF” on it, and I thought it captured my sentiments exactly. This is quite a large sum of money to spend on a temporary project.

    Therefore, I am not the least bit surprised that there is a petition circulating (now at over 1000 names) and that city councilors are receiving some flak about it. Clearly Burlingtonians are paying too much tax to the city if councilors feel they can spend a non-trivial amount of money on signs, pamphlets, paint, workers, etc, for a temporary pilot project that 51% of respondents voted against.

    • Just an update on the petition. There are now 2083 signatures on it with some very passionate comments. Many have commented they feel this reconfiguration has created a dangerous situation both for drivers and cyclists. Many cyclists say they would never ride their bikes on New Street, Drivers cannot access New Street from the feeder streets safely. The merge lane is a major concern.
      The speed cars are now driving on the feeder streets is of concern. The volume of traffic on the feeder streets has increased. This is a summary of the comments on the petition, I share all of these concerns and they are being voiced by literally thousands who are sharing their experiences. We also have over 500 signatures on a hard copy of a petition.

    • The petition now has 2083 signatures with some very passionate comments. Drivers and cyclists have expressed the concern that this reconfiguration has created a dangerous situation. Cyclists say they would never ride their bikes on New Street. The merge lane is a major concern. Drivers cannot safely access New Street from the feeder streets. Left turns are very difficult. The speed cars are driving on the feeder streets is a concern as well as the increased volume of cars on these once quiet residential streets. These concerns, plus the bottleneck at Walkers and New at rush hour are being voiced by literally thousands on the petition. In addition to the online petition we have over 500 signatures on a hard copy of a petition. Add to this, I imagine, the feedback the councillors have received directly from residents.

  4. Thanks everyone for your feedback. I appreciate hearing from the community and take your input seriously in decision-making. It is good to see a range of views being expressed. To ensure that everyone feels welcomed to participate in the discussion including if they have a different view than the majority, please be respectful to each other, refrain from personal attacks or assumptions of motive and stick to the issues – matters which are all covered in the Commenting Guidelines available on this site. Comments that don’t adhere will be edited or simply not posted. Also, make sure to use your full name. If you’ve made a comment and it’s not posted, it’s likely because you didn’t leave your full name.

    • There is another perspective on the issue of how our roads are divided up which we have not seen expressed in this particular debate. Anne uses a mobility scooter and her path of travel is mainly on Brant Street. She does not use the cycle track as when she has it has interfered with the cycle traffic which is generally faster than her and we believe cycle traffic has first priority in this lane. However, this year while taking a trip to and from Spencer Smith from Ghent Avenue she has noticed that on the majority of her trips she has come across cyclists riding the side walk and sometimes two abreast. One day Anne had the opportunity to ask what looked like an avid cyclist why he preferred the sidewalk and his answer was surprising “because I want to live”. After a ten minute conversation she had a better perspective of why he feels this way. He advised Hamilton has in his opinion introduced a safety feature that makes the cycle paths safer i.e. a raised division between the car tracks and the cycle path. We thought tthis cyclist’s (obviously from Anne’s perspective shared by others) opinions on the safety of current cycle tracks (he has frequently been clipped while using the Brant Street cycle track) should be added to the debate and whether at some point we may be seeing “share the sidewalk signs”. Anne did ask if he had ever been cautioned or ticketed by police for riding on the sidewalk to which he responded no, the police are too busy to deal with this.

      As an aside the same week Anne narrowly escaped being hit by cars on two occasions while crossing with the lights on her scooter. The cars would not wait until she was on the sidewalk before turning, one such episode being drawn to her attention by an off duty crossing guard who was furious.
      Anne and Dave Marsden
      Community Health, Safety and Accessibility Advocates

      • Thanks for sharing this, Anne and Dave. Your experience with the cyclist on Brant Street speaks volumes to the value of talking to each other and trying to understand where we’re all coming from. The discussions on this web site would probably be a lot quieter if we all took the time to do this.

  5. Are these apparently polarized positions so incompatible?
    In general could principles embody more car like transit-
    Smaller buses/large vans -route flexibility-drivers enabled to make decisions -identify safe Burlington autos to pick up people-I often offer rides to people waiting but I understand their reluctance to accept
    Incremental and small scale innovations ?

  6. I’m a bit taken aback by the negativity in these responses. Would it be such a bad thing if our teenagers had a way to get around that didn’t depend on being chauffeured by their parents? If our seniors didn’t feel like losing their drivers license was a death sentence? If some families could save $10,000 a year by ditching a second car?

    We spend less per capita on transit than any comparably sized city in the area. We can do better.

    • No James. We live in a society where we have freedom of choice in the marketplace. We CHOOSE to travel by car. Despite the war on the car that you and your lobby group–the Cycling Committe champion, we are not going to be told what is good for us. That is for US to decide, not YOU!

      • Ironic that you reply to a comment in which I argue for greater choice (car, bus, etc.) by clamouring about freedom of choice, isn’t it?

    • Well my own teenager takes the bus on New street to go to Nelson high school every day and her bus is frequently affected (late, bus full) and traffic slowed down because New street is missing a lane and the bus needs to stop to allow passengers to get on and off. During winter months, there is no alternative for my teen. She is not chauffeured by me at all and she cannot ride her bike on the road safely during winter even with this bike lane, nor would I encourage her to do that in winter. In addition, I fail to see how seniors are affected at all by a bike lane on the street. Are you saying that you envision seniors riding their scooters on the road? That is by far the least safe option one can choose. A car is necessary in Burlington because of the distribution of businesses around town. Everything is very spread out, not concentrated like other cities. And again, I fail to see how bike lanes would allow any family to ditch their second car. What are they going to do in winter? A bike lane along New street does not address this issue at all. Transit is a different issue entirely and you may be surprised that most of the people against the road diet are actually in favour of more transit. However, and again, a bike lane along New street does not address this issue in the slightest. Transit means more buses and more frequent buses. It feels that this issue is a wall (preventing people getting around town) and we are attempting to break it down with a table spoon (a bike lane does nothing to help people get around town, especially during winter).

  7. Mass transit is every city planners love child. I have yet to see a city plan that did not include the increasing use of mass transit as a panacea solution to a city’s problems. The reality however is that ridership continues to falter. Burlington, Oakville, Ottawa, Montreal are down, Toronto and Hamilton flat lined. Cities have tried various initiatives to increase ridership with varying degrees of success and usually at increasing costs.

    Probably the favourite tactic social engineers use to achieve their goals is to create conditions that are so horrendous that people have no choice but to go along with their plans. Take lanes out of service, dedicate lanes for transit, speed bumps, reduced speeds: all make driving more difficult and thus force people to look at alternatives.

    And speaking of alternatives, the city could still achieve its transit goals by encouraging ride sharing technology. This costs the city nothing and reduces the number of vehicles on city streets.

  8. NO to turning car lanes into transit lanes. There is already too much congestion in the downtown core at peak times. Also, if the council continues to vote YES on these high rises, car congestion will rise.

    Should be a video tutorial on how to use the Transit Trip Planner. Its functionality is too complex for the average user.

    More marketing on transit use! Burlingtonians must realize that the use of transit has many benefits.

    Ten years ago, I sold my car and had to use transit to get to work for one month. I was pleasantly surprised. I really enjoyed hopping on the bus and leaving the driving to the driver! Very relaxing.

  9. The entire transportation plan is “pie-in-the-sky” fantasy, much of it based around the Gospel According to Toderian. Unfortunately, none of the City’s transportation ideas are based upon the following reality–Burlington is a commuter town. Commuters want two things–convenience and time efficiency; time is their most valuable commodity–even when they are not commuting. Currently, the automobile is the best option. Unless the City can create a mode of transportation that is more time efficient than the car, the City is dreaming in technicolor.

    • Unfortunately, you’re right. The car is by far more time-efficient for most trips than other modes of travel in the city at present.

      However we are up against another set of realities…

      The reality of the huge amount of car-based infrastructure we have and the cost of keeping it in a state of good repair. We increasingly find it hard to afford on a dwindling and aging tax base. Growth – if it’s growth as usual, means that the problems get worse not better.

      The reality that every time someone else makes the rational choice to get in their car, it makes it harder for you to get where you need to go efficiently.

      The reality that less than 40% of the total number of trips taken in Burlington are the commute to and from work. 2/3 are for other reasons. And over half of these trips are less than 5km in length. It’s all these short trips taken by car that are making life more difficult for our city’s drivers.

      The reality that our health care system is also at its breaking point, Childhood obesity is at record levels and a lot of that is because we’ve engineered exercise out of the day to day routine. Isolation and family time together also compound the mental and physical health impacts.

      The reality that the mathematics around climate change is hitting us hard globally, and will hit our children and their children much much harder. Continuing down this path is not an option if we believe in a future.

      The reality of the lack of affordable places to live in our City. Forcing the accommodation of cars adds a huge amount to the cost of living. How is someone working for less than $15/hour at one of the city’s retail establishments supposed to afford both housing and the car ownership needed to get them to work and support a family?

      While I don’t believe the city’s planners or Jarret Walker / Brent Toderian have all the answers, they’ve lived and breathed these issues and thought through them much more than most, We should not just be dismissive of what they have to say and listen with an open mind.

      • While your data regarding the 40% of trips are the commute to and from work, the reality is these same commuters are time-poor while not commuting. The car will continue to be used because it is still the most time efficient method of travel within Burlington. Given the large distances in Burlington between where we live and where we do all kinds of other activities, the concept of the “complete street” is DOA–streets are merely a means of moving from one place to another. Within the downtown core (Mississauga South), residents may be in close proximity to recreation and shopping–possibly the alternative modes of transportation will work.

        The war on the car will not solve the issue of climate degradation but alternative fuels will; cars may be electric or hydrogen powered in the future but they will not be replaced with walking or cycling. The bigger issue facing environmental degradation in Burlington is overcrowding and intensification is slowly ruining the quality of life in this town.

        As for you observation about childhood obesity–it has little to do with the car. We didn’t have obesity issues with kids in the 50’s and 60’s and we had cars and we travelled extensively in them. Of course, we weren’t glued to a computer 24/7 as a babysitter for parents who are too busy working to afford a 4000 sq ft house; nor were we precious little snowflakes who had to be chauffered back and forth to school—we actually walked!

    • Phillip, Check out the New St page on the city site. The stats to date show that a trip during rush hour from Walkers to Guelph Line is 1 Minute 12 seconds longer with the road diet. That’s not a big deal.

      If the road diet doesn’t work out for cyclists perhaps that lane could be extended to Burloak and become a dedicated transit lane, that would certainly help the buses maintain a reliable schedule, at least on New St.

      • John, it’s a big deal to the over 1100 people who have signed a petition against the fiasco on New Street; these are mostly LOCAL residents, who are being NEGATIVELY impacted by the New Street Lane Reductions–including dangerous turns onto New Street, blocked lanes, increased traffic on secondary roads. Of course, when you live north of the QEW, you haven’t experienced any of these problems John.

        It is not a question of if the LANE REDUCTIONS (let’s call them what they are) work out for cyclists (if you spot one–highly unlikely),; it is a question of whether it works for cars and local residents.

        When there are 4 moving lanes along New Street, there is already a lane for buses–it’s called the LEFT LANE. (By the way, on more than 1 occasion, I’ve witnessed buses driving down the bike lane and squeezing traffic into the turning lane–bet the City didn’t report that one!) If you turn it into a dedicated transit lane for buses only, you continue the present fiasco on New Street. You also end up with a completely UNDERUTILIZED LEFT LANE–does this make sense. I’ve seen dedicated transit lanes in London England that work well but the very large number of buses using them means that the lanes are fully utilized; in Burlington, that will never happen.

        • Phillip, sorry to hear you are having such difficulty driving on New St.
          The issues you state are typical of most major roads in Burlington, regardless of where you live or number of lanes.

          New St., has a comparatively low volume of traffic compared to other four lane roads in the city. That makes it comparatively underutilized and a good choice to develop into a road that does more that simply move cars.
          If you think New St. requires 4 lanes for a small volume . should we be making Fairview 6 lanes to handle the proportionately lager flow?

          I drive the trial area about twice a week, there is a slightly slower pace as the city has indicated however, a minute is not a big deal, at least to me.
          The biggest change I have noticed is I am not being passed when traveling at the speed limit. If the road diet succeeds in slowing traffic to posted speed limits and that results in one less accident or injury, it should be kept and further developed as a model for other roads in the city.

          • John you sound like a cyclist trying to rationalize an utterly thoughtless decision that was lobbied for by the Cycling committee. Sorry to disappoint you, but you are WRONG!!! I Know you and your fellow lobbyists like to TELL people what’s good for them. You DO NOT LIVE in the area.

            The issues are NOT typical of most roads in Burlington and certainly not typical of New Street before this idiotic LANE REDUCTION. The sidestreets–3 of which run by public schools are now heavily travelled; New Street is very dangerous to execute a left turn on during rush hours. It is now highly inconvenient for LOCAL RESIDENTS. Comparatively low volume??? Anywhere from 15000 to 19000 vehicles during rush hour is NOT low volume.

            Perhaps we can have LANE REDUCTIONS on Upper Middle and on Upper Brant Street and then get back to me!

          • No one minute is not a big deal but the backlog of traffic waiting to get into this stretch of road idling emissions, increased traffic on the surrounding residential streets, speeding on these once quiet residential roads, trying to make a left turn onto New Street from any number of side streets, the aggressive driving of drivers using the short merge lane and cutting into through traffic is a very big deal but none of this is reported. Let’s look at the whole picture here, not the increased 72 seconds which is reported.

          • Eva, if we’re going to consider the whole picture, we need to acknowledge the construction on Fairview and New which has been causing significant impacts. It’s unfortunate that in your petition you attribute all of the problems to the road diet and give absolutely no consideration to the impacts of the construction projects.

            If you’re interested in the even bigger picture, I wrote some thoughts here:
            https://medium.com/@schofieldjl/why-the-bike-lanes-on-new-street-matter-2223f35dafed

            Since I wrote that post, there has been additional data released showing practically no change in traffic volumes on the side streets up until Oct 24 (i.e. before the watermain work began). That data can be found in the FAQ here: http://www.burlington.ca/en/services-for-you/New-Street-One-Year-Pilot.asp

            I fully expect things to get better once the construction is complete.

          • Phillip, please check road volumes, 15 to 19K a day is low relative to most main streets in Burlington. What you and Eva are describing has been taking place on most roads throughout the city for several years.

            The discomfort and issues you raise on New St. make a very compelling case for the city to find ways for alternate transportation to reduce some of the impact of a growing city and all the cars that have come with it.

            Adding cycling lanes, increasing transit frequency or dedicated bus lanes will all have to be developed and used to medicate the very issues you are experiencing.

            I do cycle however, presuming I am a cycling lobbyist certainly shows what you don’t know.

          • It is clearly stated that relying on Bluetooth technology does not represent the total number of cars using New Street. What is the technology used to determine the change in traffic volumes on the side streets. Is anyone monitoring the speed these cars are traveling on the side streets. Is anyone monitoring the backlog of cars waiting to get on this stretch of New Street. Are idling cars of any concern.Is anyone concerned about the aggressive driving behaviour of the driver using the merge lane to cut off the now single lane of traffic. I can only hope that things will be better once the construction is complete. Also how do snow plows clear the street if there are physical barriers in place on the roadway.

          • On the side streets I believe they were using good old fashioned rubber tubes to count cars — at least that’s what I observed on Spruce. They’ve been removed, likely due to the cold weather. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see them back in spring time for further analysis. I don’t know if they can measure speed or not.

            I agree that those other questions are worth further investigation. But we should wait until the construction is done. There’s too many different factors all playing off each other right now.

            Snow clearance requires a smaller vehicle to clear the bike lane if there’s a physical barrier in place. (Maybe the same as the vehicles that clear the sidewalks.) We can look to Ottawa, Hamilton, and Toronto for guidance.

  10. Let’s Talk Burlington. Com – I went onto this site. It does not want my opinion. It simply wants to reinforce the City’s take on transit. By the time this Council is finished there will be NO car lanes simply bicycle and bus lanes. One of the question posed is “Should Car Lanes be turned into Bus Lanes?” You have got to be kidding.

    • Respectfully, I don’t believe that the statement below in any way suggests that anyone’s opinion is not wanted. The question is a good one, and it would be wise for Council get good feedback from the community on where dedicated transit lanes might work and where they might not. It’s also a good idea for us as residents to discuss these issues intelligently and with civility towards different viewpoints. The Lets Talk Burlington website provides a great opportunity for that dialogue.

      “Once you decide that your streets are designed for people movement rather than vehicle movement, turning car lanes into transit lanes is not only fair but is also the most effective way to maximize street usage.” – Jarrett Walker, author of Human Transit.

      What are your thoughts?

      • As I noted in my previous reply, Jarrett Walker`s sales pitch (for his seminars/talks) may have some validity in communities where the many functions of working, shopping, recreation,etc are in close proximity. When I visit England, I use a wonderfully efficient public transit system because it is time-efficient; I walk everywhere in London because the cultural attractions and the shopping are all within walking distance of my hotel. I understand his view of the complete street. But when I’m outside of London, I use a car. Why? Again, greater distances require a different mode of transportation. So it is in Burlington–the distances between where we live and where we do other activities (including work where 70% of the breadwinners work outside of Burlington) are too great—streets facilitate movement from one location to another and the most efficient way to do it is by car. Not walking, not cycling, not public transit. And this metric is not going to change in our lifetimes.

What's your take?