London, Ont., staff pitch temporary bike lanes, one-way motor traffic on Dundas Place

If approved by city council, the proposed changes to Dundas Place between Ridout and Wellington streets would be introduced in late April. Andrew Graham / Global News

A new report from city staff in London, Ont., is proposing temporary changes on Dundas Place for the 2021 construction season.

The proposed changes include adding a pair of temporary bike lanes, removing paid street parking to leave only free parking, and introducing one-way motor traffic on what is currently a two-way street.

If approved, the changes would be implemented in late April, according to the report from city staff.

An early schematic from city staff of how proposed temporary changes would be implemented in Dundas Place. City of London

The changes would only affect the section of Dundas Place that stretches from Ridout Street North to Wellington Street.

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The temporary bike lanes, which would run both east and west, aim to respond to “concerns that Dundas Place does not feel comfortable or safe for cyclists, despite the reduced speed limit.” Dundas Place has a posted speed limit of 30 km/h and cyclists are currently offered a “shared space configuration.”

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The report notes that “changes to the lane use and configuration will be accomplished with signage and temporary pavement markings.”

As for bicycle lane barriers, the report says “planters are being considered for this purpose,” however it notes that barrier options are limited “based on traffic conditions and to retain the flexibility of the street.”

As for motorists, the proposed changes would see traffic temporarily kept to one direction headed eastbound with vehicles taking up the centre of the road.

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The report states that “eastbound vehicle travel is the predominant direction” on Dundas Place with “typical eastbound traffic volumes on Dundas Place … 50 per cent to 133 per cent higher than westbound traffic at various locations along the flex street.”

Dundas Place currently offers two-hour paid street parking with the first hour free, but the proposal would see the two-hour paid option removed in favour of one-hour of free on-street parking.

“Reducing the length of time will create more turn-over of the parking, aligned with the flexible nature of Dundas Place,” the report notes, adding that leadership from the Downtown London BIA have indicated support for offering free short-term parking.

“Longer-term paid parking remains available on nearby side streets and at off-street lots.”

The report will make its first appearance in city hall during Tuesday’s sitting of the Civic Works Committee, a group that’s chaired by Ward 12 Coun. Elizabeth Peloza.

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Peloza told Global News she hasn’t decided yet whether or not she’ll support idea, but did offer observations on the report.

“The bike lanes need to go somewhere. Those people who choose that mode of transportation for commuting or enjoyment absolutely deserve a place to go and a space that’s reserved for them,” Peloza said.

“The downtown merchants, the BIA, does have this plan and consultations will continue with what those merchants need.”

Peloza also noted that the proposed changes will accomodate current patio capacity on Dundas Place, a feature of the street that city council has previously stated they wanted to preserve.

As the modifications would be a significant change to Dundas Place, the proposal does include plans to reduce potential confusion.

“There would be a public awareness campaign that goes with as well,” Peloza said.

The city councillor also noted that bringing a temporary change to Dundas Place wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for London’s first-ever flex-street.

“We haven’t really got the chance as a community to see what this space could bring to us,” Peloza said.

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“We had the Toronto Raptors event … now the Thames Valley Parkway connection is done and connecting an east-west corridor to the city. It really is getting back, once we can, to gathering and seeing what this space could bring for everyone.”

The proposed changes to Dundas Place would come amid Phase 1 of construction for the Downtown Loop, a multi-year project that aims to bring rapid transit to London’s core.

Phase 1 will see construction take place on King Street, between Ridout and Wellington streets.

King Street currently provides one-way eastbound traffic for motorists in the downtown, meaning the proposed changes to Dundas Place could fill the gap if approved.

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