Feedback due March 15 for New St cycling options; My Take; Claire’s Take

Residents are invited to provide feedback by March 15 to city staff and members of council regarding the options for cycling infrastructure on New Street, from Cumberland to Martha Street, in Wards 2 and 4.

Send your comments to: (email for members of council below)

At a recent public meeting, staff outlined the various options and costs. You can see the power point presentation here:

March 9 2016 PowerPoint Presentation – Cycling Options for New Street

In summary, the options include:

Option 1: proceed as already approved. $0 additional cost.Proceed as already approved. $0 additional cost. Proceeding with the existing tender which includes a painted bike lane on the North Side of New Street, sharrows on the south side. No widening is required, and the vehicle lanes remain as they are. There is no additional cost for this option, as it is already included in the road work that has been tendered and is set to begin next week. (For updates on the road work, which includes New Street, Drury Lane, and several side streets and courts, visit the project page on the city’s website here: New/Drury project page)


cycling-wideningOption 1: Widen New Street to provide painted onroad bike lanes on both sides. The additional cost for the section from Cumberland to Martha Street would be $1.8-$1.9 million, largely due to the requirement to move hydro poles (moving one pole can cost up to $30,000, according to staff). In addition, a gas main on south side may be a conflict with a portion of the widening – relocation cost is estimated to be $100,000 and may cause significant project delays. There would also be potential for tree removal. Widening New Street between Martha & Guelph Line is estimated at $1.25m, excluding the potential gas main relocation; widening Guelph Line to Cumberland is an additional $550,000.

cycling-road diet
Remove centre turn lane, Guelph to Martha.

Option 2: Remove the centre turn lane between Guelph Line and Martha Street, and paint a buffered bike lane on both sides. East of Guelph Line, reduce the number of vehicular lanes from two in each direction, to one in each direction, with a centre turn lane, and paint a buffered bike lane on both sides. This approach is known as a “road diet” as it narrows the road for vehicular traffic. A buffered bike lane provides an extra .5 metres of painted space between the bike lane and the vehicle lane. This option would cost $225,000 ($75,000 for Guelph Line to Martha, $150,000 for Cumberland to Guelph Line).

Staff are proposing this option be tested first, as a pilot project for roughly six months, between the time the first asphalt is laid in 2016 and before the top layer of asphalt goes on the road in 2017. During the pilot, staff would study the impact of the reduced vehicular lanes. If the impact is too great, the road would be returned to its current configuration when the top coat of asphalt is laid. Additional cost to return to the original plan is $0 (the road would have to be painted again at that time anyway).

Alternatively, staff have suggested the road diet remain and a bicycle path/cycle track be installed on south side. Estimated additional cost $650,000.

cycling-option 3 bicycle pathOption 3: Install an asphalt bicycle track on the south side of New Street, north of the sidewalk, separated from the road by the grass boulevard. The onroad bike lane would remain on the north side. No widening would be required. This would potentially require removal of seven trees. The estimated cost is $550,000 for Martha to Guelph Line and $550,000 from Guelph Line to Cumberland, for a total of $1.1 million.


Public Meeting:

Lakeshore Road: cyclists on north sidewalk; multiuse path South Side. Cyclists can ride on sidewalks in Burlington.
Lakeshore Road: cyclists on north sidewalk; multiuse path South Side. Cyclists can ride on sidewalks in Burlington.

About 50 people were at the public meeting March 9, but there was no clear consensus on a preferred option – each had pros and cons.

Several supported the bicycle track option – a strip of asphalt in the boulevard beside the sidewalk. This is essentially what we have on the south side of Lakeshore Road, the difference being that on New Street, there would be both a sidewalk and a separate asphalt bicycle path beside each other, whereas on Lakeshore Road there is only the asphalt path, considered a multiuse path.

One resident, a self described commuter cyclist for 20 years who lives near New and Seneca, said the bicycle track won’t work because it would have the same issues as the Centennial Bike Path, with potential conflict with pedestrians and dogs on leashes crossing into the path. Further, it can be dangerous to cross a driveway, and people put their brush, cars, and garbage cans in the path. This resident, who bikes to work every day, supports the buffered bike lanes. Another cyclist said they would probably still ride on the road if the bicycle track was built out of concern for pedestrians/dogs spilling from the sidewalk.

Several residents spoke in favour of the road diet with painted bike lanes on both sides, the least costly option. Others expressed concern about the traffic impact creating gridlock, and reducing vehicular safety, with no turning lane West of Guelph Line.

Some supported the “as tendered” option and suggested that it wouldn’t make sense to add an additional bicycle path on the south side when the Centennial Bike Path is also on the south side, half a block away. Some suggested adding a separate bicycle path to the Centennial Bike Path, to separate walkers and bicycles.

The road widening – the most expensive option at $1.9m – didn’t seem to resonate with anyone.


This item will be discussed by council members at the Development & Infrastructure Committee Tues. March 22, 6:30pm, followed by a final vote at council April 11, 6:30 pm.

The staff report outlining these options will be available next week, and posted on the city’s agendas and minutes page: Agendas & Minutes

Residents can attend committee and/or council and speak, by registering in advance as a delegation here: Register as a Delegation

Let Council know what you think! Council members:


My Take: At this point I am leaning toward the “as tendered” option, but I will make my final decision next week after seeing the staff report, reviewing public input and hearing discussion at committee. Families and cyclists who will trade off speed for a separated bike path prefer to use nearby Centennial Path, or quieter side streets of Caroline or Spruce; cyclists who are seeking the speediest routes prefer to be on the road, and the as tendered option provides a bike lane on one side and sharrows on the other. In addition, this option is included in the tender and budgetted for.

I do not support widening the road because of the extra costs, and impact on tree removal and greenspace.

I am open to considering a pilot project that would remove traffic lanes and add buffered bike lanes on both sides, however I am seeking more information on traffic volumes and the potential for gridlock. This option could be achieved at minimal cost, without impact on trees and greenspace, and it is keeping with the cycling Master Plan which calls for onroad bike lanes.

I am not sold on the bicycle track option, as it will add considerable costs without changing much, or being much different from riding on the sidewalk, except for a smoother ride on asphalt versus concrete. This option is more of a boulevard multi-use trail, than a bicycle track (see below). Several cyclists expressed concern about this option saying they would still ride on the road, given the potential for conflict along the path with pedestrians and dogs on the sidewalk, and with garbage cans, cars, or other items blocking the path. This option would also require tree removal and cut into the greenspace on the boulevard. It is also very expensive.

Boulevard Multi-use Trail
Boulevard Multi-use Trail

The city’s cycling committee prepared a guide to bikeway options for a variety of cyclists, as well as costs. The bicycle track option being proposed is essentially the same as boulevard multiuse trail, defined as a trail built alongside and parallel to the roadway, in the boulevard (i.e. above the curb). According to the guide, these trails are appropriate when there are limited driveways and side street intersections, which is not the case for the section of New Street between Martha and Cumberland. In the East, near Appleby to Burloak, a boulevard multi-use trail might work, given that back yards and fences, not driveways, face the street.

Segregated bicycle lane
Segregated bicycle lane or cycle track

A segregated bicycle lane or cycle track is at the same level as the road, separate from cars and from sidewalks. The track provides a separate lane for cyclists with more than a painted line separating it from motor vehicle traffic. Separation can be with bollards, road treatment, or planters, for example. The path proposed in Option 3 isn’t a bicycle lane or cycle track, as it is not onroad. To build a cycle track on one or both sides of New Street, the road would have to be widened. This would be a cost-effective option when roads are being reconstructed, which isn’t the case with this project.

Mar 9 2016 New Street Bike Lanes MeetingClaire’s Take: (Note Claire is a high school co-op student in my office this semester, learning about writing, government and public engagement)

In the morning of the New Street bike lanes meeting, I was told it was going to be heated, so I can say I was warned. Well, I can certainly tell you my eyes and ears were wide open as I listened to many concerned residents voice all different kinds of opinions.

The first portion of the meeting outlined the three options that showed all the costs and construction. That lasted for about twenty-five minutes and then came the time for questions and concerns, and let me tell you there were many involved speakers. I was almost overwhelmed with the amount of writing I was doing on my pad of paper as residents put in their opinions.

The first resident that spoke asked why New Street and not Lakeshore for bike lanes, which I thought was interesting. It was a good point, seeing how Lakeshore is a busy road that is used often. The transportation services staff explained that they want New Street to be a continuously safe route that people can rely on.

Subsequent discussion included everything from comparing Burlington to classical European countries, the volume of traffic, and even the amount of trees being cut down.

People talked about how they often see the bike lanes around Burlington being used, and also how they want them to be maintained properly. One man in particular stood up and talked with great passion about how he is concerned for the walkers on New Street that there won’t be enough shade.

I do have to applaud all these residents for showing up to this meeting and using their opportunity to speak their minds. It makes me glad that we have the chance to do that and communicate with city workers and councilors about what’s going on.

One of the residents in particular that was sitting in the row in front of me briefly spoke about how putting in bike lanes on New Street is a waste of time anyways. At that point, I couldn’t help but do a double take. Speaking as a seventeen year old who does not have her full license or a car for that matter, I see bike lanes as a way of getting around town. I mentioned this comment to my friends at school who don’t have their license either, and they were surprised that some residents feel that bike lanes aren’t that important. These bike lanes aren’t just for exercise purposes; you have to think about the people who don’t have the luxury of driving to their destinations.

Whichever option gets the green light, I hope it is useful for all citizens in Burlington. However I do not have a preference just yet out of the three options,

This was the first meeting that I had gone to where there were disagreements, tension, and also a lot of energy in the room. It was a real eye opener for me to see what the councilors encounter and also how the public can get involved.

I am interested in what the outcome will be for New Street, and I hope it will work out. I hope that residents living on New Street will be satisfied with the option that is chosen and that the bike lane is used to its greatest potential.

I also hope the bike lanes are labeled clearly as bike lanes, so drivers and other cyclists realize where the lanes are.

As I was leaving the meeting, I remembered what one resident said in particular that we should look to the future. We have to keep in mind that this isn’t just for people in the present time, but for the future generation of Burlington citizens as well. No, we cannot be just like the European countries that have established and historic bike paths, but we can put our best foot forward to making Burlington a bike friendly city.



Written by Marianne Meed Ward

A Better Burlington began in 2006 after my neighbours said they felt left out of city decisions, learning about them only after they’d been made.

As journalist for 22 years, I thought “I can do something about that” and a website and newsletter were born. They’ve taken various forms and names over the years, but the intent remains: To let you know what’s happening at City Hall before decisions are made, so you can influence outcomes for A Better Burlington.

The best decisions are made when elected representatives tap the wisdom of our community members, and welcome many different perspectives.This site allows residents to comment and debate with each other; our Commenting Guidelines established in 2016 aim to keep debate respectful.

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  1. I really appreciated hearing Claire’s take on this. Her final comments about the need to be looking to the future resonate with me.

    I’ve been thinking about this some more, and I wonder if the way we’ve been looking at the entire section from Cumberland to Martha as a single unit might not be the best approach. New Street is vastly different East vs West of Guelph Line. The western section is more like Lakeshore Rd in form (3 lanes, mature trees, 50 km/h). The eastern section is more like Fairview St (4-5 lanes, 60 km/h posted, lot of speeding).

    From a cycling perspective, if we go ahead with the as-tendered option on the eastern section, I think this will be a disaster. Just as practically nobody bikes on the shared lanes on Fairview, sharrows on New Street are unlikely to attract any new cyclists. It simply isn’t safe to ask cyclists to share a lane with 60-70 km/h traffic. To me, this approach is almost worse than doing nothing at all.

    Looking at the western section, while I’m not thrilled about the as-tendered approach, it would be “less bad” here compared to the eastern section. Here, traffic volumes are much calmer, and there is room for cars to manoeuvre around cyclists by using the centre turn lane, just as they do on Lakeshore. Less confident cyclists aren’t likely to use a shared lane, but as mentioned, the path is very close, so there are alternatives. (The path becomes less and less of a viable alternative the further east you go. At Burloak it’s a 2 km detour to use the path – 1 km up from New Street and 1 km back down. And that’s assuming there’s a feasible route to get up and down to wherever you’re trying to go.)

    As a cyclist I would be happy with either option 2 or option 3. Putting aside bike lanes for a moment, option 2 is interesting for other reasons. We hear a lot of complaints about cut-through traffic in Burlington… and yet we build wide roads like New Street with plenty of room to accommodate cut-through traffic. We have an opportunity to do a test run for a few weeks and see what would happen if we reduced the road capacity slightly. My guess: you’d see a lot less cut-through traffic. As a driver, I also see some benefits to this approach. I often make a left-turn from Guildwood onto New Street. At rush hour, it can take a very long time to catch enough of a break in traffic to make this turn. Option 2 would add a centre turn lane which would make this considerably easier. While I appreciate that you’re digging deep into the potential traffic impacts, all the engineering modelling in the world is no match for doing an experiment and observing what actually happens.

    So as a resident living near the eastern end of this project, I would support option 2 or 3. As a taxpayer, it seems to make sense to try option 2 first. I don’t see what we have to lose by trying this for a few weeks and seeing what happens.

    That said, we don’t necessarily need to go with the same option for both the east and west sections of the street. Marianne, if your sense is that as-tendered is the best approach for the section in Ward 2, I’d urge you to consider looking at the other section separately. What’s right for one might not be what’s right for the other.

    • Marianne,
      As a long-time resident of Burlington, I can speak to the issue of “cut-through” traffic. Yes it occurs whenever there is a serious logjam on the QEW but mostly the traffic I have seen and continue to see appears to be local commuters between 5:30 am to 9:00am and 3:30 pm to 6:30 pm. Reducing the lanes on New Street will create GRIDLOCK with absolute certainty. From my observations, cut-through is a red herring.

      • So what’s the harm in trying and seeing what happens? If it causes gridlock, it can easily be put back the way it was (for $0, as it needs to be repainted anyway once the top coat of asphalt is applied). If we don’t try, we’ll never know.

        FWIW, I passed through Walkers and New yesterday at 6 pm on my way home from work, and could have thrown a football down New Street without hitting a car.

        • James, you may remember that most of last year, areas abutting New Street on the south side were being dug up restricting the lanes on New Street to 3. Traffic tieups were rampant! Gridlock on New Street has already been assessed.

  2. I like the ‘as tendered’ method since there is also the Centennial Bike Path just south of New Street. And I am absolutely in favor of licensing bicyclists, complete with road tests. I have had more close calls with bad bikers than with bad drivers. (I am a biker who regularly rides on New Street and the Centennial Bike Trail.)

  3. What is the sense of all these bike lanes when a significant # of bikers will NOT use them & still insist on riding their bikes on the sidewalks making it dangerous for seniors & other pedestrians, especially on Brant Street?!? New Street will turn out to be the same.

  4. At this point I am in favour of the as tendered option for New street. I support the idea of bike use, however, there is a need to educate riders on the rules of the road. There are too many cases of riders acting dangerously, such as riding the wrong direction in bike lanes, riding too fast on sidewalks when bike lanes are available, passing on the right of cars attempting to turn right, the list goes on. How is a road with bikes painted on it (no bike path) different than a normal road? In the countries in Europe where there are many more bike riders, there seems to be much more respect for the rules of the road and therefore much better integration of cars, bikes and pedestrians. More enforcement is required. Licencing may be a good way to do both, educate and enforce. The rising danger with ebikes and scooters is also a concern. If you want to ride, do it properly and safely.

  5. Guelph Line is one of the main and busiest streets in Burlington. Reducing traffic lanes is a very bad and dangerous idea. Why do the wishes of drivers seem to count for nothing in Burlington? It is already getting difficult to get around Burlington, why is Council determined to make it more difficult? I grew up in a country where the majority of the population rode bikes, there were no bike lanes and riders had to buy a bicycle licence every year. Everyone shared the roads quite happily. Burlington City Council spends more than they take in every year and raises taxes to cover their overspending consistently. How about putting that money to better use and going for a balanced budget?

  6. Marianne,
    New Street West of Guelph Line. Leave as tendered. I took a look at it today. I don’t think it is practical to build a separate bike track next to the sidewalk. Space is at a premium. I would support leaving New Street as tendered–painted bike lanes on one side, sharrows on the other. Three lanes
    MUST be maintained for vehicle traffic–reducing to two lanes will create GRIDLOCK during the morning and evening rush hours. One stopped bus on this route will back traffic up in an unmanageable way and discourage those of us living east of Guelph Line to avoid downtown Burlington altogether.
    New Street East of Guelph Line. I still support the idea of a bike track in this area. It can be extended from Guelph Line to Burloak providing a safe route for commuters, seniors, and kids. It would also be desirable to do the same on the north side when finances permit. Again, New Street is a major traffic artery which cannot be reduced to 3 lanes if gridlock is to be avoided.

  7. I think it maybe about time to license bikes and charge $ 5.00 a year to the bike owner. Drivers pay their share, why not bikers.

What's your take?

Council meets Tues. 1:30 on request to adjourn 374 Martha OMB hearing after land purchase

City will not oppose developer’s request to adjourn OMB hearing related to 374 Martha Street appeals