Why The City is Piloting Bicycle Lanes on New Street from Guelph Line to Walker’s Line

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New Street (left) will transform to its one-year pilot project configuration (right) to test bike lanes from Guelph Line to Walker’s Line.

This summer, Burlington City Council supported a staff recommendation for a one-year pilot for bicycle lanes on New Street between Walker’s Line and Guelph Line.

As you are likely aware, the majority of council (6-1) supported this decision. It was our team of transportation experts that recommended what is being called a ‘road diet’. Simply put, that means taking New Street from four lanes to three lanes (two travel lanes and a centre left turn lane), with bike lanes separated by painted buffered lines on each side.

There are a few key things to note as we measure data and carefully listen to residents during the bicycle lane pilot project on the two-kilometre stretch of New Street:

This is a one-year pilot project

This is a pilot project scheduled to last one year. Our staff will be tracking detailed data and we invite feedback from everyone using that stretch of the road.

The pilot is a litmus test to see if the painted lanes result in a positive experience for people who want to ride their bicycles, while causing a minimal impact for drivers who also need to get where they are going in a timely manner.

The pilot aligns with strategic planning – Transportation, health and environment

A key direction of our new Strategic Plan, which identifies priorities for the next 25 years, is a City That Moves. We want to increase the percentage of people using alternative transportation including cycling on a regular basis and not just for recreational purposes. The car has a 50 to 60-year head start when it comes to our city. A large part of Burlington was built when land and gas were plentiful and cheap. We are now trying to retrofit our city with more options than driving.  Another key direction of our new Strategic Plan is A Healthy and Greener City. Halton Region recently released an Active Transportation Health report, which was discussed at Halton Region’s health and social services committee meeting on Feb. 8, 2016. The report states 39 per cent of Halton residents, aged 12 and older, were inactive during their leisure time in 2013/2014. The report recommends using active transportation, including cycling, to improve health. (Read more here: http://www.thespec.com/news-story/6306140-halton-residents-aren-t-getting-enough-physical-activity-halton-report/). Furthermore, 40 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions produced in Burlington is from automobiles. There are significant opportunities for a greener, healthier city with a wider variety of transportation opportunities if we start investing now.

The timing is appropriate for this pilot project

This is an ideal time for the pilot to be done as this section of road is scheduled for resurfacing in 2017. This means there will be no cost to revert the lanes if the pilot is determined to be unsuccessful by staff and ultimately, council, or keep the new lane configuration when the road is resurfaced.

Meanwhile, city staff has assured me New Street west of Guelph Line will be reopen to the public in mid-August before the pilot starts east of Guelph Line. There will still be ongoing works on the boulevard (sod, driveways) but this will be limited to minor lane closures.  All work will be done on this section prior to Labour Day weekend.

We will be watching the pilot closely

I live by New Street and as such, take it every day, at different times. I will experience first-hand the traffic delays, if indeed there are any.

The key measurement for me will be the impact on the automobile driver. If there are significant traffic issues as a result of this new configuration, we can simply repaint the road. This one-year test allows us to see if New Street is the right place for bike lanes.

Staff will be collecting data on travel times and residents are invited to share their feedback at any time to newstreetdiet@burlington.ca.

The pilot is a more direct route offering more destinations than the bike path

The multi-purpose pathway from Burloak Drive to Martha Street is good for recreational cycling. However, it is a busy mixed use pathway that includes not only cyclists but walkers, skateboarders, walkers with dogs and young children. A friend of mine broke his wrist after a young child darted in front of him causing him to slam on the brakes and fall. This means it is not ideal for people cycling along the pathway for transportation, especially when travelling at higher speeds.

The pathway is also not useable when it is dark as the average light from a bicycle is not bright enough and does not shine far enough to create a safe ride. The pathway is not lit at night. There are also numerous crossings where vehicles have the right-of-way. Furthermore, the pathway does not provide meaningful connections to the many amenities right along New Street.

Feedback welcome

I will be watching this pilot project for bike lanes closely and listening to the community response.

Below is a list of questions we have received from the public with answers to explain why the City of Burlington is undergoing a one-year pilot for bicycle lanes on New Street from Walker’s Line to Guelph Line:

What is happening on New Street between Guelph Line and Walker’s Line?

Starting in late August, New Street is going on a road diet between Guelph Line and Walker’s Line, reducing the road from four lanes to three, and adding buffered bike lanes. This will result in an eastbound lane, centre turning lane, westbound lane and painted, buffered bike lanes in each direction.

What is a road diet?  

Burlington put in place road diets in the city’s downtown on Lakeshore Road and on portions of Guelph Line, Walker’s Line and Appleby Line. Our findings are that the number of car crashes is reduced and that there is better interaction between pedestrians, cyclists and the street.

The province’s Book 18: Ontario Traffic Manual defines a road diet as using spare roadway capacity, such as extra lanes, for other modes of travel, like public transit or cycling. The hope is to encourage a shift in road use to reflect the changes.

Why is there a pilot project for bike lanes on New Street ?

The one-year pilot project aligns with Burlington’s Strategic Plan 2015-40, which identifies the city’s priorities for the next 25 years. Among the key directions in the strategic plan are ‘A City That Grows’ and ‘A Healthier and Greener City.’

The New Street pilot will:

  • Provide people using alternative means of transportation with a direct route for travel with access to the shops and services along New Street
  • Promote improved health and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions through the use of alternative modes of transportation
  • Provide the added benefit of improved safety along New Street for pedestrians crossing the road and vehicles turning left.

The pilot is a test to see if the painted lanes result in a positive experience for people who want to ride their bicycles while causing a minimal impact for drivers who also need to get where they are going in a timely manner.

How was the decision made to move forward with a road diet pilot on New Street?

On July 18, City Council voted 6-1 to support a staff recommendation for New Street to go on a road diet, based on recommendations from the city’s transportation experts.

The city has engaged with residents through the strategic plan process, and again through several public information sessions, hearing that people want transportation options, including safe cycling locations.

How will we know if the pilot project is successful?

Staff will be collecting data on travel times and residents are invited to share their feedback at any time to newstreetdiet@burlington.ca. Please be sure to copy mayor@burlington.ca.

A key measurement will be the impact on vehicle drivers. If there are significant traffic issues as a result of this new configuration, the road can be repainted to four lanes. This one-year test allows us to see if New Street is the right place for bike lanes.

How does this pilot project connect with Burlington’s 2015-40 Strategic Plan?

The pilot is consistent with the city’s strategic plan objectives related to transportation, health and the environment, including being a City that Grows and a Healthy and Greener City.

A City that Grows

Burlington is at a unique time in its history. With very little green field left for the development of suburban-type neighbourhoods, the city will experience growth in its urban areas. As this growth takes place, it will be important to ensure people have access to convenient, affordable and green forms of transportation, like cycling and transit.

These alternative modes of transportation will ensure people can move through the city easily as well as promote improved health and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

A Healthy and Greener City

Currently, 40 per cent of emissions produced in Burlington are from vehicles. The car has a 50 to 60-year head start when it comes to our city. A large part of Burlington was built when land and gas were plentiful and cheap. We are now trying to retrofit our city with more options than driving. Halton Region recently released an Active Transportation Health report, which was discussed at Halton Region’s health and social services committee meeting on Feb. 8, 2016.

The report states 39 per cent of Halton resident aged 12 and older were inactive during their leisure time in 2013-14. The report recommends using active transportation, including cycling, to improve health. Please see www.halton.ca/activetransportation for more.

There are significant opportunities for a greener, healthier city with a wider variety of transportation opportunities if we start investing now.

When does the program start?

The road is expected to be ready on Aug. 27. Road marking removal will take place starting Aug. 22 to prepare the roads for line-painting. Painting will begin Aug. 26.

We will celebrate the start of the pilot project with a community event in the early fall. More details will be available at www.burlington.ca/newstreetdiet.

Why start the pilot project in 2016?

This is an ideal time for the pilot to be done as this section of road is scheduled for resurfacing in 2017. This means there will be no additional cost to revert the lanes if the pilot is determined to be unsuccessful by staff and ultimately, City Council, or keep the new lane configuration when the road is resurfaced.

Can cyclists use the nearby cycling path instead of cycling on New Street?

The pilot on New Street will offer more destinations than the bike path, and connect directly with the amenities on New Street.The multi-purpose pathway from Burloak Drive to Martha Street is good for recreational cycling. However, it is a busy mixed-use pathway that includes not only cyclists but also walkers, skateboarders, walkers with dogs and young children. Commuter cyclists typically travel at higher speeds. This can cause conflict when mixed with other path users.

Is Burlington a leader in providing cycling options?

Share the Road Cycling Coalition recognizes Burlington as a silver-level bicycle-friendly city. There are 31 communities in Ontario that are bicycle-friendly, according to Share the Road. This designation sets Burlington apart.Burlington has in place the Burlington Cycling Committee, which has been an advisory committee to City Council for the past 25 years, contributing greatly to the Cycling Master Plan. Cycling is also included in the city’s Transportation Master Plan. For more information about cycling in Burlington, visit the city’s www.burlington.ca/bikeburlington.

If you have additional questions, or would like to submit your feedback, email mailto:newstreetdiet@Burlington.ca.

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3 thoughts on “Why The City is Piloting Bicycle Lanes on New Street from Guelph Line to Walker’s Line

  1. This is ridiculous, how many people are going to riding a bicycle to work or for recreation in the middle of February but it is quite obvious that the Green People have taken over and sanity has gone out the window.

  2. Having read the blog I still do not understand the logic or reasoning for the Surely it would be more cost efficient to put yellow lines along the Centennial Bike Path and put lighting, so that pedestrians would have a safer journey. I use that path every single day, for the past 4years at all different times and have yet to see an issues; however have felt very ‘unsafe’ due to practically non existant lighting. What about me!
    Where will the cyclists be during the harsh winter months? I admit there are about half dozen cyclists that will try to use it. I cant help but think the cyclist would be a lot safer off the road and on the cycle path that was made for the purpose.
    I sill look forward to the results of your ‘study’ and will look out for all the ‘incidents’ that may or may not happen along at stretch of road. Not convinced, and very disappointed with this decision, would have been more convinced if the vote had been open to Burlington residents, and they voted in favour. That is called democracy!

  3. Does that mean that mothers and grandmothers cycling with children will be using these lanes instead of walkways,or would we,pedestrian still be pushed aside by bicycles or our walkways?

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