Cycling options on New St – it ain’t over yet (April 19)

new street bike lane

As tendered option – bike lane on the north, sharrows on the south.

Some of you may be wondering what happened at the March 22 Development & Infrastructure (D&I) committee, where discussion took place on a range of options for cycling infrastructure on New Street, from Martha to Cumberland, during road work which has already started along this stretch.

Essentially, the clock ran out on us.

Our procedural bylaw requires a 2/3 vote – five of seven of us – to extend a meeting past 10:30 pm. When we hit that time, only four of us (myself included) voted to extend. Being short of the required majority, the evening ended abruptly with a simple “receive and file” of the information. That receive and file was confirmed at the April 11 council meeting.

But it’s not over yet.

Staff have prepared a second report (Cycling Options New Street) with additional options for council’s consideration which will come to the April 19 D&I, 6:30pm. A special council meeting has been called for immediately after the committee meeting to implement recommended changes (if any) to the West section (Martha to Guelph Line) so these can be incorporated into the road work currently underway without incurring additional costs or delays to the project.

Staff are maintaining their preference for the “as tendered” option for Guelph Line to Martha Street (see below), but have recommended that staff give further study to the section from Guelph Line East to Burloak, consult city-wide on options, and report back on the results with costing and recommendations to the July 12 D&I.

The options already outlined by staff include the “as tendered” option of a full bike lane on the North side with “sharrows” on the south; eliminating lanes of traffic or turn lanes (road diet) for buffered bike lanes on both sides, or installing a concrete bike path beside the sidewalk on one side of the street. You can learn more about those options and My Take in my earlier posts:

Feedback due March 15 for New St cycling options; My Take; Claire’s Take

What Paul Newman and bike lanes on New Street have in common

There isn’t much support on committee or in the community for the road widening option, the most expensive.

Further, there isn’t consensus, even among cyclists, about the best approach among the remaining options. Committee heard from several delegations at the March 22 committee. There was support for the “as tendered” option, for a concrete bicycle path beside the sidewalk on one or both sides of the street, and for a road diet with on-road segregated bike lanes – separated from traffic by a physical barrier (for example bollards, or planters). The latter option was not included by staff, as that cannot be accomplished within the existing road bed. In addition, questions were raised about snow clearing and garbage pickup if there are barriers in the road.

Bike lane north side, shared lane with sharrows south sideBased on input received to date including the city’s Cycling Committee, staff are of the opinion that for the section west of Guelph Line two options are available for Council consideration: the “as tendered” option, or constructing a concrete bicycle path beside the sidewalk on the South Side, at a cost of $550,000. That funding is available from savings realized from previously tendered 2016 projects.

Staff continue to recommend Option 1 “as tendered,” for the section of New Street west of Guelph Line given the characteristics of this section of New Street and the proximity to the Centenial Bikeway.

Bike Lane north side, Cycle Track south sideIn staff’s opinion, funding that would otherwise be used for a bicycle path west of Guelph Line would provide better value if used east of Guelph Line where there are more options for enhanced cycling facilities. Council endorsement of staff’s recommendation will permit the existing contract to move forward without further delay.

For the section of New Street from Guelph Line east to Burloak, staff believe this section requires further analysis and consultation with the public, and there is more time to do so. Options should be limited to:

  1. Bike lane on north side with sharrows on south side.
  2. Road Diet, going from 4 vehicle lanes to 3 vehicle lanes (two lanes of traffic with a centre turn lane).
  3. Cycle track in the boulevard either on the south side or both sides.

Staff would report back by July 12 which would allow including costs of any options in the 2017 budget.

My Take:

I support the staff position that the cost to install a boulevard bike path West of New Street would be better spent on cycling infrastructure elsewhere, including a potential boulevard path East of Guelph Line to Burloak. As such, I will be supporting the staff recommendation to proceed with the existing tendered option for Guelph Line to Martha, and gather more information and consult broadly with the community on options for the section from Guelph Line to Burloak.

Rationale: Based on all of the discussion I have heard, I continue to prefer the as tendered option for the stretch between Martha and Guelph Line. Residents have expressed significant concern about impact to safety, traffic flow, transit, and emergency response from eliminating the centre turn lane for buffered on-road bike lanes on both sides. Further, there is no agreement among cyclists and other members of the community that painted or buffered on-road bike lanes would significantly increase cycling. Families, my own included, would not use on-road lanes on this busy road, and would continue to use the Centennial Bikeway, half a block away.

I am also not supportive of a concrete bike path beside the sidewalk in this section. It would essentially amount to a wider sidewalk; cyclists already have the option of riding on the sidewalk. So why would we spend $550,000 to make it wider – especially when the Centennial Bikeway is half a block away, and our own studies show the majority of cyclists are travelling west, on the north side, not east, on the south side. Because this section between the sidewalk and the curb is narrow, there could be conflict with pedestrians or dogs on leash straying into the bicycle path. People may put their garbage or leaves on the widened path. Cyclists would still have to stop at every cross street, and watch for cars pulling out of their driveway. For these and other reason, several delegations preferred an on-road separated bike path to this option.

This option is being referred to as a “cycle track” but it is really a boulevard bike path. The cycling committee prepared a guide to cycling options that outlines the various options, and when they are most suitable. The document states that a boulevard path is best where there aren’t a lot of driveways or side street intersections. That’s not the case in this section of New Street, but would be the case East of Guelph line, where there are more backyards facing New Street.

In addition, a concrete bike path beside the sidewalk would require removal of eight trees; I don’t support sacrificing greenspace for green forms of transportation – especially at a time that we are considering a private tree law to regulate removal of trees on private property in Roseland. In some stretches of New between Martha and Guelph Line the boulevard is so narrow that grass would not grow between the concrete path and the curb, so there would be concrete all the way to the curb.

I am open to exploring options for a separate boulevard path in the Guelph Line to Burloak stretch of New Street because it has a much wider boulevard, more backyards and fences facing the street, so fewer driveway openings to pose potential conflict with cyclists. It also wouldn’t require significant tree removal to facilitate.

Your Take:

What kind of cycling options do you want to see on New St, West of Guelph Line, or East to Burloak? Email me here [email protected] or leave a public comment below.





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