August 23, 2016 6:38 pm
Updated: August 23, 2016 9:39 pm

Burlington, Ont. puts major road on traffic ‘diet’ to make way for bike lanes

WATCH ABOVE: Burlington puts arterial road on ‘diet’ to make way for bike lanes

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Officials in Burlington, Ont. have decided that New Street, a major east-west artery in the Halton Region city, was a little too wide for its own good and put a segment of it on a “road diet.”

In a year-long pilot project starting this week, the four-lane road has been reduced to two lanes between Guelph Line and Walkers Line to make way for a 1.8 metre-wide bike lane on either side.

The most recent numbers, which are a few years old, show that about 60 cyclists use New Street per day.

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READ MORE: Installation begins on Bloor Street for bike lane pilot project

Advocates hope the diet will give the city an updated count and make things safer for everyone.

“Road diets create safer conditions,” said Ian Brisbin of the Share The Road Cycling Coalition. “[They result in] fewer collisions and the collisions that do occur are a lot less deadly.”

Yet some local residents have taken issue with the idea.

Drivers worry reducing four-wheeled traffic to one lane could slow down their rush hour drive.

Meanwhile, both cyclists and drivers alike who spoke to Global News point out that there is a mostly-paved, secluded bike path that runs parallel to New Street just metres away; the well-known Centennial Bikeway.  

“What the bike path does is it creates a recreational experience for people,” says City of Burlington spokesperson Donna Kell.

“What we’re hoping the road diet does is create a commuter experience.”

She added that you’ll also find several people strolling and jogging along the path, which is not ideal for people intent on effectively getting around.  

“(The) path also angles north,” adds Brisbin.  “It doesn’t intersect the kind of employment, commercial, educational … nodes that an arterial road like New Street does.”  

City Council was initially exploring the idea of separated cycle tracks along New Street as seen in other jurisdictions, which are considered much safer for cyclists as the boundaries are much more clearly defined.

That plan reportedly would’ve cost the city about $5 million. Alternatively, the city has budgeted its road diet pilot project at $210,000.  

City staff will be collecting data on the bike lanes’ usage and the impact of the road diet on traffic over the next 12 months.

They also plan to factor public feedback into their decision on whether to continue and expand the strategy or go back to four lanes.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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