Thursday, June 25, 2009

shifting gears at council

Gary Yokoyama, the Hamilton Spectator
Cycling plan gets votes, but cash? Not so fast

, The Hamilton Spectator
(Jun 25, 2009)

They came on two wheels, helmets in place, to remind council that not every Hamiltonian wants to drive to work.

About 20 cyclists attended last night's council meeting to encourage the city to approve and fund its new cycling master plan.

Councillors unanimously backed the plan without debate, but referred any funding commitments to the budget process.

It will take $51.5 million to implement the integrated cycling network on city streets, a cost of $2.5 million a year if it was completed over 20 years.

Staff recommended the city only commit $1.25 million a year and focus on urban bike lanes.

The investment, which would be staged over numerous years, would more than quadruple the city's designated bike lanes to 566 kilometres.

However, several councillors have expressed concern about the size of the investment, questioning if the bike lanes would be used enough to justify the cost.

They want to consider the expense in relation to the city's other financial demands.

Randy Kay of Transportation for Liveable Communities Hamilton wants the city to fast-track the plan. The yearly price tag, he argued, is affordable and offers the city a cheap way to improve its image.

"Hamilton is moving in the right direction, keep going. Don't be left behind," he said.

"People want choices in their transportation."

In a letter to council, cyclist Brendan Simons said he's lived in several cities, but finds Hamilton the most "hostile to cyclists."

"No matter which roads I take, I have to contend with cars and trucks whizzing by my elbow at 70 plus kilometres per hour," Simons wrote.

Kay said local cyclists intend to follow the plan to next year's budget process.

"We're hoping this is just the start of a campaign to see this through."

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