Council considers widening New St for raised bike lanes for $2m

What New St could look likeCity Council has asked staff to come back with additional details on costs, and voted 5-2 to refer any decision on bike lanes on New Street to the 2015 capital budget discussions.

New Street is scheduled to be resurfaced in 2015, for a cost of $825,000. Staff had recommended using this opportunity to add a painted bike lane on the north side (heading West) and sharrows on the south side, while maintaining two full travel lanes and a full centre turn lane of 3.1m each. Adding the bike lane and sharrows would not have added to the project cost.

Driving lanes of 3-3.1m already exist on several roads in Burlington where traffic volume is the same or higher than New Street. The chart here provides a comparison.

Widening the road to add raised bike lanes on both sides separated by a “roll-over” curb would increase the budget by $1.2m for a total project cost of $2m. This option would require tree removals, utility relocations and a new curb. Staff did not recommend this option as the additional costs are prohibitive and unbudgetted.

Extending these bike lanes to Burloak would cost roughly $8m.

This option will now be evaluated during discussions on the 2015 budget.

Tell council what you think

Council members would like to hear from you. Do you support the staff recommendation, the option to widen and add raised bike lanes, or some other option? Email them below.


Read the staff report with recommendation here – Item #3

Read the Burlington Post writeup here

My Take:

I supported the staff recommendation as a cost-effective win-win for all road users: drivers get standard lane widths for driving and turning; cyclists get a full bike path on one side. Supporting this option moves us forward in accommodating cyclists as we can afford it with all of the competing priorities for tax dollars.

I do not support widening New Street, taking down trees and removing greenspace. We can’t sacrifice greenspace in the name of green transportation.

Also, if we can come up with $1.2m (or $8m!) at the city (or the province or the federal government) I would direct the bulk of that to transit, trails and sidewalks (repairs, construction and snow clearing) which serve more residents, including those with no other transportation options, while advancing our goal to get people out of their cars.

I did not support the option to refer this matter to the 2015 budget. The deferral simply dodges council’s responsibility to make these tough funding decisions and show transparency in our priorities to residents.

We have all the information we need now to make a decision. We know what the various options for New Street bike lanes will cost, and we are well aware of our competing priorities for tax dollars.

Referring the decision also raises community expectations (or concerns, as the case may be) that the bike lanes will be built; sends staff on a time consuming errand to gather more data we don’t need; and potentially launches the community in a divisive conversation about cycling.

Council had a chance to move cycling forward by supporting the staff recommendation. We dropped the ball by failing to decide.

One voice on active transportation:

On another note, I’m disappointed that the city’s cycling advisory committee has stated they want no part in a potential active transportation citizen’s advisory committee to bring discussions about transit, cycling, trails and pedestrian improvements together. We won’t advance active transportation until residents work together on all forms of active transportation and recommend funding decisions accordingly. Discussing cycling lanes on New Street in the absence of a complete conversation on all active transportation priorities is making decisions in silos. When staff report back in the fall with potential terms of reference for an active transportation committee I will support folding cycling, transit and pedestrian priorities into one committee that will meet monthly, with subcommittees on each transportation area, and speak with one voice to council, instead of continuing with the current siloed discussions we are having now.

Your Take:

What’s your preferred option for bike lanes on New Street? Let me know at or leave a comment online below.

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