TODD LIHOU - EDITOR: More bike lanes on Second Street will only anger motorists

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If you thought it was tough getting from east to west in Cornwall now, thanks to the lame-brain decision to convert a portion of Second Street to a two-lane jigsaw puzzle, wait until the city gets finished with the rest of the busy Cornwall thoroughfare.

City traffic experts are getting ready to implement a plan that will turn Second Street, from Amelia Street to Anderson Drive, into another piece of grid-lock, by reducing traffic in both directions to one lane.

It's being done in the name of progress, but I have one word for it: dumb. Other words like 'frustrating' and 'unwanted' come to mind as well.

The belief is that by adding bicycle lanes and a centre turning lane, more people will be encouraged to walk/cycle to work or wherever else it is they go during the day.

Yah…right.

Last time I checked, there isn’t exactly a flood of cycling traffic in Cornwall, even at the best of times.

Earlier this week I traveled Second Street West, where the bicycle lanes exist, at different times of the day, to count how many cyclists had decided to take advantage of the lanes created there a few years ago.

It was hardly a scientific analysis, but I wanted to see just how busy it could be early in the morning, at around noon, and at the end of the work day.

Back and forth, completing four circuits, at three different times of the day I calculated a massive amount of bicycle traffic…three people, if you count the child of a parent who was pulling the little tyke in one of those follow-along bicycle trailers.

Like I said, not scientific, but not exactly a ringing endorsement for more bike lanes on one of the busiest streets in Cornwall.

But, if you take a trip down to the waterfront, it's wall-to-wall cyclists (including the cursed e-bike)…so maybe cyclists just prefer a safer environment, with a better view, when completing their travels.

Fact is, from this desk, the plan to add more bike lanes on Second Street will simply anger motorists, who will now be lined up, bumper to bumper, following shift changes at a number of the east-end industrial park operations that employ hundreds of people.

Of course the move has been blessed by the experts at city hall, who in 2010 put the final touches to the 'Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan' – a copy of which can be found under every pillow in the city, I am sure.

Its 77 pages are filled with every reason imaginable to make things easier for cyclists and pedestrians. But this plan leaves motorists grappling with the short end of the stick.

An open house on the subject was held Wednesday this week for residents to ask questions and for the city to explain its reasons in more detail.

Last week, when word of the plan began to circulate via social media, critics (and I'm one of them) came out swinging.

Some suggested the plan is designed to get more people cycling instead of polluting the Cornwall air with vehicle exhaust fumes – but I only see a future where more vehicles are idling in traffic instead of reaching their destination.

One woman suggested creating bike lanes on streets like First and Third – away from busy "downtown" traffic. Good idea. Cyclists are already making 'alternative' travel arrangements to Second Street, and last time I checked there hasn’t been an outcry from the public demanding more options.

It should also be pointed out that the money spent on this plan (which no one asked for) would probably be better spent IMPROVING existing roads, instead of making changes where they are not required.

I could understand the rationale for this plan if there were reams of cyclists trying to navigate Second Street every day, but I just don't see it.

What I do see are plenty of motorists, huffing and puffing because they're now stuck in one lane when they used to enjoy two.

Before this existing city council hangs it up in advance of the looming municipal election some brave soul should stand up and voice opposition to this plan.

I can think of plenty of other things the city could spend this money on…Second Street bike lanes are not on the list.

Organizations: Pedestrian Master Plan

Geographic location: Second Street, Cornwall, Amelia Street Cornwall.But

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Recent comments

  • Joe Lefebvre
    August 29, 2014 - 16:14

    I just saw Judy Bobka's letter to the editor, and was almost angered by it. You cant park on most of Second street anyways. As more and more eBikes come to Cornwall it WILL become necessary for more bike lanes to be established. On my street alone there are more than 6 eBike owners. We can't drive on the sidewalks as most normal cyclists in town do, it's just not safe. So, we're forced to the curbs of the busy streets. There's no way around it. Judy, get with the times please.

  • Ryan Lalonde
    August 27, 2014 - 07:25

    I have seen many people using the new bike lanes, and the old ones. I personally love the idea as motorists are already angry about bikes on the street. I can't tell you how many times I'm told to, "Get off the road, and get a license." I would rather stick to my bike thanks. These lanes are amazing and cost next to nothing. I am all-for these new lanes and I think they should implement more.

  • Jacob
    August 22, 2014 - 20:05

    Thanks for bringing my attention to the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan. I'm new in the city, and I bike to work about half the time, and think this is a great idea, it'll make that much easier and enjoyable. PS. There are no traffic jams in this city, don't be silly.

  • David Oldham
    August 21, 2014 - 18:27

    Have not yet seen a single bike using the dedicated lanes on Second Street. I will admit to seeing a bike on Brookdale Avenue heading north towards Home Depot , however they were traveling on the sidewalk not the dedicated lane. The concept of if you build it they will come does not seem to apply to city councils decision to spend our money on yet another white elephant.

  • Chantal
    August 21, 2014 - 13:47

    Following your lead, I hopped in my car to travel Second Street in its entirety, at different times of the day, to count how many times I was stuck in mind-numbing, steering-wheel gripping, blood-pressure-raising traffic. It was hardly a scientific analysis but I wanted to see how busy it could be early in the morning, around noon, and at the end of the workday. I calculated a large amount of vehicles on the road. Shockingly, I experienced a ridiculous number of unbearable traffic jams: 0. Like I said, it wasn’t a scientific process but also not exactly a ringing endorsement for less bike lanes on one of the busiest streets in Cornwall. Fact is, the view behind my handlebars, not to mention my windshield, leads me to believe the plan to add more bike lanes on Second Street still make sense. Cheers to the experts at City Hall who put out the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan. They should be congratulated for being forward looking, for joining the legions of municipalities who support healthy living, for encouraging change in our commuter habits, for giving us one more tool for staying active, for envisioning a more liveable city with sustainable transportation, for providing safe haven for people who choose to travel on two wheels instead of four, and for not bending over backwards to those with first-world parking problems. (*A note on that last point: I am sympathetic to business owners who wonder how the plan will affect their bottom lines. But I would respectfully counter that there is no dearth of parking in the city.) I suppose I could bring myself to understand the rationale for protesting this fine plan if there were throngs of motorists trying to claw their way through traffic on Second Street every day, but I don’t see that. What I do see in our future is this: more cyclists encouraged and emboldened to ride their bikes without fear of getting killed by a road rager, clipped by a car’s mirror, driven into the curb by a distracted driver or honked at for – gasp! – trying to share the road. And who knows? Maybe we’ll see some new cyclists out there, likely the very people who got tired of being tangled in traffic.