UPDATE: Councillors leaning toward keeping controversial bike lanes

UPDATE: Councillors leaning toward keeping controversial bike lanes
Cornwall City Hall

CORNWALL, Ontario – There is growing sentiment around the city council table to keep controversial bike lanes on Second Street East for at least one cycling season.

Several councillors said Friday at a budget meeting that the lanes have yet to be enjoyed by cyclists for an entire season and it is prudent to give them a chance.

“I know there was a lot of work put into it – but I think it needs to run the season,” said Coun. Andre Rivette. “The bottom line is we give it a shot for a season to see if there are heavy issues we deal with.”

Coun. Claude McIntosh put it thusly: “The bike lanes are here to stay. We’re not going to spend $35,000 to remove them.”

Indeed, it could cost as much as $35,500 to return Second Street East back to a four-lane configuration, according to a report that went before the city’s budget committee Friday.

It cost $29,000 to reduce the number of lanes on Second Street to two from four and add a centre turning lane, as well as bicycle lanes, last year.

“It is slightly more expensive to revert because there is greater length of solid lines which are more costly to remove than apply,” said the report authored by Enrique Kamm, the city transportation engineer. “There may be other minor costs associated with public notification to implement removal of bike lanes and revert to the original configuration.”

Coun. Elaine MacDonald said councillors are hearing from the quiet masses in favour of the changes that took place at the end of last year.

“I’m absolutely thrilled…with the people who have responded positively,” she said. “I wish people were broadcasting to the wider world how they want us to hold firm. This is the way of the future.”

City councillors had asked for the information to judge the feasibility of reversing the controversial Second Street changes that have created a furor among some drivers.

“It would be a huge step back,” said Coun. Carilyne Hebert.

While Kamm’s report is being submitted to the budget committee for information purposes, he has recommended the city stay the course with the bicycle lanes.

“Some drivers may be frustrated by the change – certainly change can difficult to adapt to,” he wrote. “Compounding the issue is the time of year work was done. Being in late fall, many drivers have not had time to establish routine before winter snow has obscured line paint.

“This may take a summer season to let drivers have time for changes to become more ingrained and to allow cyclists, scooters and other users the opportunity to use bike lanes as intended.”

Kamm also suggested the bicycle lanes and left turning lanes are warranted, noting a number of traffic accidents at specific intersections and the fact that cyclists were forced to use sidewalks in some cases.

For the entire report click here.

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