It’s time to stop financing the myth that bicycles are a major mode of transportation

By Gerry Barker

May 15, 2018

If you drive around town enough you can see how the two-wheeled cycle has pushed its way into our environment. Bike lanes are the stepchild of the consortium of the environmentalists many of whom are embedded in all levels of government.

Bicycles are seen by the environmentalists as its public face and proponent of eliminating fossil fuels as an energy source to be replaced by pedal power.

Say hello to thunder thighs and the new city of Guelphenhagan.

Guelph has been a leader in shrinking vehicle lanes to install or widen bike lanes. Every repaving of a major city street, is re-marked to accommodate bike lanes

I am reminded about eight years ago when then councillor Maggie Laidlaw, an ardent cyclist, predicted that in 20 years there would be no cars on the streets of Guelph.

Well, it hasn’t work out that way.

Instead, we have more fossil-fueled cars and commercial vehicles on our street than ever before.

The former Farbridge administration pushed hard to provide more and wider bike lanes wherever a major road was resurfaced. In many cases, vehicular traffic was confined to just one lane each way.

Such was the former mayor’s legacy to create today’s traffic congestion on our major streets and routes.

An example if this planning was the resurfacing of Downey Road. Before the road was resurfaced, a decision was made to widen the bike lanes to allegedly three meters. Now here is urban planning gone berserk. There are not two painted lines on the road for bike lanes but three.

My information is the planners want to make drivers aware that the actual bike lane had been widened and to give them warning.

Holy Mackinaw! How long does this minority group hold Guelph hostage to serve its use of public streets and roads? The biker minority expands its world at the expense of the vast majority of the population.

So let’s look at the numbers.

The City of Guelph has a ten-year bike lane-funding program of $300,000 a year. Over the years this has paid for lane restrictions, fancy coloured bike boxes at intersections and establishing bike lanes that are not complete. They start and then end, leaving the cyclist to fend with vehicles without the benefit of the completed bike lane. Driving around the city it is apparent that we have a part-time system of bike lanes.

Without question, successive Guelph administrations have spent millions on bike lanes to placate a strident bike lobby represents a tiny portion of the 131,000 people who live here.

Despite the traffic studies that show time and time again that motor vehicles vastly out-number the cyclists, the bike lobby remains funded with taxpayer money. In designing the Downey Road bike lane layout, an independent consultant measured vehicle flow two periods a day when traffic was heaviest. The result was that some 4,000 vehicles used the road during the two test periods while just 113 cyclists were spotted sharing the same road.

We now know that the bike lanes on the right side of Downy have this weird three-line configuration while the original bike lane on the other side of the road was not modified. Again, the vehicle lanes were shrunk to accommodate this new layout.

Who or what department is responsible for these whacko decisions?

Here’s what needs to be done.

Freeze all proposals to create additional bike lanes.

The staff should review and assign resources to complete ‘start and stop’ existing bike lanes on major roads or streets as a priority.

Set up a free bike licensing and safety incentive plan. This would encourage cyclists to protect their property with serial numbers embedded in the metal frame for ID in the event the bike is stolen. Offer front and rear blinking lights, a warning device and fluorescent vests. A copy of the Highway Traffic Act should be given each cyclist. This opportunity would have a time limit to encourage cyclists to sign up.

Unlicensed cyclists would face fines and possible suspension.

If we are to allow cyclists to use the bike lanes, observe the HTA rules covering the use of public streets, then the marriage of pedal power and the internal combustion engine powered vehicle should be much improved.

The Wild West that now exists is the outcome of neglect by the administration.

Vehicles using the public roads are required to pay taxes including ownership taxes, insurance taxes, property taxes, environmental taxes, sales taxes for fuel and repairs.

Cyclists using those same roads only pay, perhaps property taxes if they own property.

Until we tackle these issues the public money spent on bike lanes will continue unabated without the rule of law governing the safe sharing of the public thoroughfares.






Filed under Between the Lines

13 responses to “It’s time to stop financing the myth that bicycles are a major mode of transportation

  1. Joe Black

    113 sure re audit

  2. joseph Phelan

    Your comments are always so long…shorten them up and get to the point.

    • Spend

      Your comments are repetitive…we get it, you don’t like reading essays but keep coming back.

  3. Louis

    Don’t forget they expect to be treated like a regular vehicle but don’t want to follow the rules of the road

  4. Glen

    Well now, I recently saw a solitary cyclist using the ziggy-zaggy lanes on Downey Road. Most of the comments from neighbours would not be printable in a family blog such as this. $300k wasted on Downey in 2017 with another $1.2M slated for flushing down the crapper in 2018 & 2019.
    Nothing like having turning lanes removed from Downey at Niska Road & WoodlandGlen to screw up traffic flow. Great work by mental midgets.

  5. Guido

    With Places to Grow Intensification and reduction in lanes, we now have traffic havoc in Guelph. I would agree with sharing the road, however bikers must follow the same rules as we do. Gerry’s suggestion of Bright vests is an excellent one.

  6. Glen

    Yeah, bright vests would make cyclists more visible & likely keep them safer. However,if they were even suggested as being mandatory then some tree hugging eco – cyclist would complain that they were being singled out in a discriminatory manner and seek payment for hurt feelings. :>(

  7. al

    It is good you and the lot commenting here do not represent the majority. Thousands of people make many trips by bike in Guelph. Bike lanes make the trips safer and more efficient. Riding your bike is a health promoting way to travel, as well, you are light on the planet when you use the worlds most common and energy efficient way to get around. Get on your bike, connect with your community and find something else to dis.

  8. Spend

    I can count on one hand the amount of cyclists I’ve seen using the Downey Road obstacle course, I mean bicycle lanes. Still see lots of cyclists on the sidewalk. I travel Downey several times daily.
    The problem on Downey wasn’t a need for bicycle lanes, but concerns for speeding traffic and pedestrian safety. They’ve half-assed pedestrian islands which offer no safety for children crossing the busy street. Downey is a speedway for Cambridge commuters (until the $5 million Niska Expressway re-opens). The road surface is a mess of new lines, old lines torn up, impossible to see at night in the rain.
    The dog and pony show “Public consultations” hosted by self assured city staffers just pay lip service to listening to community members…they have their agenda already set.

  9. Glen

    So where were the thousands of cyclists when the April 2016 traffic study was done on Downey Road? Perhaps instead of pontificating you may wish to get a copy of the study and be enlightened. At the so called “public consultations” in 2016 the head traffic dude, when queried about the traffic study & bike lanes, said there was no discussions on the bike lanes as they had already been decided. Now when I work out at the Y, I see likely 100 cars in the parking lot and maybe 2 or 3 bikes in the bike racks. If people working out can’t be bothered to ride to the Y or don’t own a bike, that speaks volumes about the need for bike lanes in the Kortright Hills area. BTW- I have walked 3000 km per year for at least the last 6 years with a major portion of that distance being in Kortright Hiils so don’t preach to me about fitness or finding something else to “dis”!

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