Monday, December 05, 2005


Cyclists cheer plan for bike lanes on York Boulevard

By Dana Borcea, The Hamilton Spectator (Dec 5, 2005)

Cyclists will have a little more space on the road thanks to a city proposal to put bike lanes on York Boulevard.
Commuters on two wheels currently share the busy road linking Hamilton and Burlington with four lanes of speeding traffic.

Peddling down the street next to vehicles driving more than 60 km/h can be daunting, said Matt Thompson, a spokesperson for MACycle, a campus community bicycle co-op. "As a cyclist, I'd feel a lot better having a white line there."

But while the city's plan to reserve lanes for bicycles may soothe the nerves of cyclists, the prospect of reducing car traffic to two lanes may have drivers grumbling.

Cycling advocate Randy Kay said even if they are outnumbered by drivers, cyclists deserve some infrastructure of their own. Kay is spokesperson for the group Transportation for Livable Communities.

The creation of on-street bike lanes is well worth a little rush-hour congestion, he added, even if drivers do outnumber cyclists. "If you build it, they will come," he said. "Hopefully fewer people would want to drive and more people would start to ride."

Kay would like to see the proposed bike lane stretch past Dundurn Street and well into the city's core.

"Why stop there? There should be dedicated bike lanes running to the library, the market and the galleries and not just for commuters between Burlington and Hamilton but for the city itself."

Advocates say that an off-street trail that currently runs along a stretch of York Boulevard is well suited for leisure riders, joggers and pedestrians. But to avoid collisions, commuter or "transportation" cyclists are better off on the street with a lane of their own, they say.

Both Kay and Thompson praised recent efforts by the city to enhance cycling infrastructure, but insist it has a lot of catching up to do.

Supporters and opponents of the proposed bike lanes can weigh in at a public meeting on Dec. 8 at Sir John A. Macdonald Secondary School, 130 York Blvd. between 6 and 8 p.m. The city will unveil several options for the lanes.

Mary Lou Tanner, strategic planning manager with the city's public works department, described York Boulevard as "an important access point in and out of the city" that takes Hamiltonians past the waterfront and into the Royal Botanical Gardens.

She said the move would help fulfill the city's commitment to building 13.5 kilometres of new bike lanes a year and further its plans for "balanced transportation networks."

"We will not build a road system that simply services cars. We are going to build a transportation system for all users."

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