City considers adding new bike lanes

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Councillors gave initial approval on Tuesday to three bicycle lane projects that will help create a network of connector routes across the city.

Approved at an operations and administration meeting were bike lanes and parking changes for Albion Street and Oxford Street, and paved shoulder bike lanes for Erie Avenue. Final approval is needed at an upcoming city council meeting.

After a lengthy discussion by councillors, a fourth project for cycle lanes on Brantwood Park Road was deferred to a future meeting.

In 2020, city council approved a Transportation Master Plan that includes detailed information to enhance active transportation in the city, including cycling and walking. In addition to the Albion, Oxford, Erie and Brantwood Park projects, other work to be done this year includes cycle lanes on Diana Avenue (approved in March) and the Dunsdon Street “road diet,” which has been put on hold.

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Justin McLaughlin, a lifelong resident of Ward 4 and a recreational cyclist, told councillors he has turned to exercise to help manage his mental health during the pandemic.

There is a lack of safe infrastructure for biking” said McLaughlin. “This is only a start to improving connectivity. It’s just a piece of the puzzle to create a network.”

Gregory Kempa of the Brant Cycling Club also spoke in support of the new bike lanes, saying club members who meet in different locations for their group rides are looking for ways to “move through the city without using cars.”

The Albion Street project extends a previously approved bike lane and a contra-flow bike lane — which allow cyclists to ride in the opposite direction of vehicular traffic — from Henrietta Street to West Street to create a complete cycling route along the entire length of Albion Street.

The Oxford Street project includes dedicated bicycle lanes on Oxford Street from Balmoral Drive to King George Road.

The Erie Avenue project will extend the current designated lanes for bicycles from Market Street South to Birkett Lane. The new lanes will be extended south to Cockshutt Bridge.

The Brantwood Park project would provide bike lanes on that street from Lynden Road to Powerline Road. It would also remove on-street parking from the west/south side of the street, which doesn’t sit well with residents who spoke against the plan at Tuesday’s meeting.

Laura Ritter, who lives on Brantwood Park Road, said many parents park on the road in inclement weather to pick up their children from school.

We don’t want a lane taken away,” she said. “It will be an inconvenience for everyone.”

Tamara Saeed said the road is “incredibly busy” and it would be hazardous to move parking to one side.

A survey mailed to 1,150 households and businesses in the area asking their opinion about the project got 195 responses, with 60 per cent of them opposed to the bike lanes. Eighty per cent of those who live on Brantwood Park Road and responded to the survey said they were opposed.

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