Posted February 11, 2013
A few years back Coun. Maggie Laidlaw, an ardent cyclist, predicted that there would be no cars in Guelph in 20 years. Looks like that prediction may be closer to the truth than most folks realized.
This week it was bolstered with the announcement that on-street parking is to be banned on some arterial roads to accommodate new bike lanes. In fact the city’s proposed Cycling Master Plan, calls for an additional 150 kilometers of dedicated bike lanes. Council approval of the Master Cycling Plan is expected at the end of this month.
The plan was developed by the city’s Transportation Demand Coordinator, Jennifer McDowell with a little help from the federal government with a $127,000 grant. This money was spent on hiring an outside non-staff consultants and a summer student to conduct a survey. Details of the survey methodology are not forthcoming. This includes sample criteria, vehicle use tracking in the past five years, number of cyclists using public roads and the times they use the streets for basic transportation.
Keep in mind the $2 million spent of the stimulus funding on turning Stone Road into dedicated bike lanes and so-called bike boxes. Converting Guelph into a cycling paradise is not only an expensive proposition but panders to a minority of cyclists who believe it is their right to share the road. This despite the fact that they are not required to be licensed to use public roads.
Cycling has become a trendy avocation that the city council majority deems to have given priority.
But here are some common sense-based facts about cycling in Guelph. The city has distinct seasons including very cold weather, snow, sleet for four months of the year. Copenhagen it isn’t.
Did the survey determine how many cyclists use the roads 365 days a year? Further, did the survey ask the ages of the recipients to obtain a realistic profile of who is using the roads? Has bicycle use been tracked for frequency on major routes? What is the usage of bicycles on existing dedicated bike lanes?
How many residents aged 65 and older are biking on city streets? Would you push your baby carriage down a bike lane on a street? Many cyclists drag their children in trailers behind their bikes without regard of the risk. What basic equipment must cyclists have including bell or horn, adequate lighting and clothing for night biking?
With only 13 per cent of the city population using Guelph Transit, did the writers of the survey consider that the overwhelming majority of Guelph residents use motor vehicles, including motorcycles?
So, what are the priorities?
The Cycling Master Plan includes street widening, and building bike boulevards on Woodlawn and Edinburgh at an estimated cost of $750,000 spread over a “number of years.” If you believe that, then I have a bike to sell you.
An example of planning and design bungling was the restructuring of Norfolk Street in which vehicle lanes were reduced from four to two between McDonnell and Woolwich. It created a bottleneck of epic proportions on the main north/south access road through the city. It also took almost three years to complete.
This administration’s track record of estimating costs is a sick joke. Examples: The Organic Waste Plant, Market Place civic centre, the never-ending downtown development plan, ad nauseum.
This city suffers from too many master or strategic plans and not enough control over cost management.
That’s why Guelph faces a serious financial crunch that is coming like a freight train. Huge debt increases, an oversized and growing staff, few checks and balances, all add up to saddling Guelph citizens with future costs that are growing exponentially.
Citizens have every expectation that after six years, the council majority won’t get it because most of them don’t understand what is happening, or they refuse to understand.
It’s called the ostrich syndrome.