Lakeshore Road Bike Lanes – Council Decision

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January 30, 2013

I’ve heard from many Burlington residents and cyclists regarding the proposed bike lanes on Lakeshore Road and wanted to take an opportunity to share some of my own thoughts with you.

At the January 28 Council meeting, City Council did not support a recommendation to add bike lanes on Lakeshore Road. After long and careful consideration on this issue, I decided not to support this pilot project proposal.

As Mayor, I have to consider how decisions will affect all residents of the city. I am supportive of the City’s long term plans for cycling and increasing active transportation in Burlington. I believe it is important to take action to help reduce traffic congestion and commute times by investing in active transportation alternatives and transit, but I believe that we need to consider these decisions from a holistic, long-term perspective.

In 2009 City Council endorsed the Cycling Master Plan but since then, we have had very little discussion on the implementation of the plan and the benefits of increasing cycling transportation in Burlington. I believe that we need to consider these decisions from a long- term perspective and invest in active transportation and cycling infrastructure where it will be most beneficial and cost-efficient.

Council could have voted to push through this initiative with significant resistance from the majority of the community, however, I believe that approach would create further resistance to future initiatives to add bike lanes and cycling infrastructure in the city. Going forward, we have to connect the long term vision for active transportation with a clear strategy for implementation by looking at the Cycling Master Plan.

As a result of this discussion, I will be bringing forward a staff direction to review the 2009 Cycling Master Plan as part of the 2013 Transportation Master Plan Update in the coming weeks. As we continue work on the Transportation Master Plan and Official Plan Review this year, this is an opportune time to consider how cycling fits into the City’s greater transportation planning.

This is an opportunity to put broad issues into context for further, meaningful discussion. I  encourage you to get involved in these discussions and shaping the future of our city.

Since the City of Burlington declared itself as a Sustainable Development Community in 1990, we have taken several steps to invest in vibrant neighbourhoods, active transportation and safe and accessible transportation options including 2 Car Free Sunday events in Summer 2012 to promote cycling and active living in Burlington.

I invite you to visit the City of Burlington Environment web page to learn more about some of the projects and initiatives to protect our environment, invest in active transportation and creating a healthy city. I also invite you to watch a video about Cycling in Burlington and learn about some of the great paths and trails currently available for cyclists.

As we continue forward, this year we will continue work on our Official Plan Review and a new Transportation Master Plan.  I  encourage you to get involved in these discussions and shaping the future of our city.

 UPDATE: February 1:

A couple of noteworthy news pieces on this issue:

Lorraine Sommerfield, “Going beyond the numbers in the battle for bike lanes” in the Globe and Mail

Joan Little, “Lakeshore bike lanes go nowhere” in The Hamilton Spectator

Please read and share and feel free to share your thoughts with a comment below.

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6 thoughts on “Lakeshore Road Bike Lanes – Council Decision

  1. Mr. Mayor,

    I have seen and use the trails, transit and paths as much as possible. The cross town paths are great, as you can avoid having to stop at lights, stop signs, etc and you and council have done a great job of expanding the off-road paths and connecting things in an effective way. My main concern is that people will not get out of their cars if it isn’t convenient. It’s true that Lakeshore is a major through way for that part of town, but decreasing congestion isn’t just about keeping the roads clear of other obstructions for cars. This sounds to me like the Rob Ford war on the car argument all over again, though I know you are very much an environmental guy, it’s hard to argue with hundreds of thousands of people that love their cars and don’t want to give them up even if it is better for them. Making it easier to get to places (schools, businesses, homes) is important for getting cars off the road, rather than just having scenic paths to ride along. It’s difficult on Lakeshore when you come off the paths and end up either on the road with drivers losing their minds behind you, or on the narrow sidewalk where pedestrians lose their minds (and rightfully so). Anyway, it’s getting better, but there are some weird, illogical spots where cycling is simply not safe, and this is one of them. I was hoping it would change, but it will have to wait for now.

    Thanks for taking the time to respond after my initial rant. I’m pretty fed up with good ideas being pushed aside because of bad decisions. I understand how these things work, but the ‘greater good’ never crosses peoples’ minds in these situations, just ‘how will it affect me.’ I don’t blame you, elected officials are supposed to represent the people, we just need some shifts in the ways things are done.

    All the best.


  2. Mr. Mayor,

    My apologies for the above comment, it was far too harsh. I’ve been dealing with very unyielding drivers for years, and it would just be nice to get from point A to point B safely where ever you choose to cycle. I over-reacted after reading the decision. I hope you have some innovative ideas, and that the bike development plan makes up for the lack of lanes on lakeshore. My apologies to yourself and councilor Meed-Ward for the comment.

  3. This decision is thoroughly, thoroughly disappointing. The mayoral flip-flop was pretty unsurprising for someone that has grown up in Oakville and Burlington. When you look at the provincial and federal election results, it’s pretty obvious that the downtown/Lakeshore section of Burlington is highly conservative. Going down Lakeshore it’s also obvious that they are very rich. I understand you want these votes, but didn’t you run as a Green Party candidate years ago? And didn’t you also travel to Portland, Oregon to see their city model? Portland built all kinds of things that were unpopular with some residents that wanted to keep driving their cars at all costs, but now, it’s a North American example of what a sustainable city should be. Sometimes things need to be done before people see the value in them. As John mentioned in the comment above, it would not be the debacle the residents would have you believe. If more kids could safely bike to school, that alone would reduce the morning and afternoon gridlock on Lakeshore because the parents wouldn’t be lining up to get in to get their children. I read both of the articles the Mayor posted along with councils decision, and honestly, the arguments against them are weak to the point of ridiculousness. I live downtown and I cycle all over this city and others. I choose not to drive in Burlington at all because the traffic is a nightmare, even on the side routes that used to be accessible to those who knew where they were going. Yes, the bike path parallel to Lakeshore is nice, but you can only get in and out of it at certain points. This is something that is best used for Saturday afternoon rides with the kids, not for getting around in an efficient manner. Have you ridden a bike on Lakeshore? Anywhere past Spencer Smith Park you are in serious danger while riding on the road, or you can get on the sidewalk which is highly dangerous for pedestrians and those residents you mentioned “desperately” needing to get out of their driveways. Also, please do the whole town a favor and paint the bike lanes in at least until you get past the Brant-Lakeshore intersection. Where they suddenly end creates a crazy bottleneck for cyclists that don’t know the road well, and half of them end up in the middle of traffic or plowing onto the sidewalk in one of the busiest parts of town. Eastern Lakeshore badly needed these bike lanes, now you’ve just given people more of a reason to stay in their cars and create more gridlock. I hear a lot of talk of sustainability talk, yet Burlington is far away from walking the walk. Meed-Ward’s adamant fight on behalf of the elite citizens of town is a shining example of how to do what’s best for a small cohort of spoiled people to get yourself re-elected, not doing what’s best for the city of Burlington. I was hopeful when the Mayor took over that he would lead the way to a more environmentally friendly, innovative city. All I see is the same pandering to the same people that have always dominated politics in places like Burlington and Oakville.

  4. I am extremely disappointed in the decision of the City Council in the decision that the possible (NOT PROBABLE) occasional 5 second delay for residents turning into or out of their driveways is more important than the safety of cyclists on Lakeshore. In its present configuration, the centre turn lane is not a passing lane therefore it is illegal for a motorist to pass a cyclist until a passing lane is encountered. If there were bike lanes, motorists would be unhindered and could legally pass cyclists at any time without encroaching on the centre turn lane.

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