Burlington moves ahead on New Street cycling project
BURLINGTON — Mayor Rick Goldring has backpedalled on his original support for a $5million cycle track option on New Street, instead siding with colleagues on a less costly ‘road diet’ plan.
In a 6-1 vote at city council last week, councillors approved spending $210,000 on a pilot project for buffered bike lanes on both sides of the street from Guelph Line to Walkers Line, and Wedgewood Drive to Burloak Drive.
“We do want to create more cycling infrastructure in the city so we can create a truly delightful cycling experience throughout the whole city,” said Goldring, who at the July 12 development and infrastructure committee had favoured cycle tracks adjacent to the sidewalk along the same stretch of road.
The mayor admitted his reversal was in part based on more research between the two meetings on other municipalities where ‘road diets’ had been successful.
“I’m going to hear from people anyway, and I’m going to have to defend it, so I may as well be on the same team as everybody else.”
The ‘road diet’ option maintains the current roadway width at 14 metres, but removes a lane of traffic in each direction and introduces a two-way left-turn lane.
“I’m not sure this particular pilot project will have a significant impact on an increase in the number of people that cycle; we will see,” added Goldring, who drives New Street every day on the way to City Hall.
Goldring had originally brought forward the idea of exploring bike lanes back in January as part of a report before council detailing a $10-millon tender for street improvements and water main replacement that included New Street.
As part of the pilot, city staff will be monitoring average traffic times for bikes and cars, collisions and the use of the new cycling infrastructure.
If the pilot is deemed unsuccessful, the ‘road diet’ can be converted to another cycling alternative in the future “without significant costing implications,” according to the report.
Coun. John Taylor was equally concerned with the resources that were allocated to this plan.
“This has been agonizing, the amount of time, particularly professional staff time, that has been put into this and taken away from their regular duties which was the approved capital budget,” Taylor said.
“Now I’m faced with telling my residents that three projects that were in the approved capital budget are not going to be done this year because staff resources reported on this, over, and over and over again.”
All three of the delayed projects are for resurfacing, such as a shave and pave on Parkway Drive as well as Cedar Springs Road, and intersection improvements on Walker’s Line at No. 2 Sideroad that will be carried over to next year.
Burlington will finance the pilot remarking through savings found mostly by tendering the New Street and Drury Lane street rehabilitation projects early in the season, resulting in more competitive pricing.
Based on the city’s cycling data, New Street carries around 60 cyclists daily in its current configuration. The city hopes the new bike lane will increase that number dramatically. The city says about 15,000 to 20,000 vehicles now use the road each day.
A recommendation by staff on whether or not to make cycling infrastructure on New Street permanent will come before city council at the conclusion of the one-year pilot.
Council approved spending $210,000 on a pilot project for buffered bike lanes.