Bike path proposed on one side of New St

Preferred Option 3
Staff preferred option for bike lane one side of New, sharrows other side.

Thanks to the 40-some residents who attended the recent public meeting to hear transportation staff’s proposal for bike lanes on New Street. The street is being resurfaced in 2015 so it is an opportunity to explore painted bike lanes or possible widening to accommodate lanes.

At the first public meeting last year, staff presented 6 options, from do nothing up to widening the road to add full bike lanes on both sides. Based on further analysis of the options and costs, and in consideration of substantial public feedback, staff came back to residents with their preferred proposal. Staff are recommending adding a full bike lane on the North side, heading west into downtown. Their studies have shown most of the bike traffic is headed toward the downtown, as opposed to the other direction. The south side would have painted enhanced “sharrows” like those on Lakeshore.

Staff have observed that since the sharrows were painted on Lakeshore road, cyclists report that they are working to get cars to move over when they pass cyclists. This option could be accommodated within the existing $825k budget for the resurfacing. Staff said about 60 cyclists per day use the road.

The other options explored but not recommended include removing the centre turn lane, widening the road and adding bike lanes on both sides, at a cost of $2.7million, or adding a separated (elevated) bike lane on both sides, slightly cheaper at $2 million. Staff did not recommend these options as the road is not scheduled for widening and the additional cost to widen now would require displacing some other capital project. The funds for widening New Street are not in the current capital budget.

What New St  could look like
What New St could look like with bike lane one side, sharrows other side.

To view the staff powerpoint from the presentation visit: Staff preferred option for bike lanes on New Street – March 27

Residents are invited to submit their comments to staff by April 7. Send to Dan Ozimkovic at

Staff will present their report to the city’s Development & Infrastructure Committee June 16; any recommendation from that committee will go to City Council July 14. Residents can register as delegations to both of these meetings to share your feedback on the proposed recommendation with members of city council.

My Take: I support painting sharrows on both sides or adding a bike lane on one side and sharrows on the other, as per the staff recommendation.  This option doesn’t require a road widening or adding significant unbudgetted costs to this project.  The additional cost to add these lanes now is not supportable given the low volume of cyclists and the nearby Centennial Bikeway, for off-street cycling. Further, staff have said that since enhanced sharrows were added on Lakeshore they have observed that the sharrows are working to increase cycling safety for those cyclists who prefer to ride on-road, so we would expect that to occur on New Street as well. Longer term, when the road is due for reconstruction (in roughly 10-15 years), I’m open to considering road widening and separated, elevated bike lanes, as that won’t add significantly to the cost if the road is already being reconstructed; by then, we may also have more cyclists.

Your Take:  Generally, the majority of feedback I’ve gotten from residents via phone, email, or social media, is residents have mixed support for sharrows and bike lanes (some question whether they work at all). Most residents do not support removing the centre turn lane (not recommended by staff) or a road widening (not recommended by staff) to accommodate bike lanes, because of the impact on vehicular traffic and the added cost of widening outside of a road reconstruction. What’s your view? Leave a comment below.

Bike path proposed on one side of Burlington's New St
Article Name
Bike path proposed on one side of Burlington's New St
Staff are recommending adding a full bike lane on New Street's north side, heading west into Burlington's downtown. The centre lane remains.

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.

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  1. It greatly saddens me to see my fellow citizens reducing this to an “us” and “them” debate as if people who ride bicycles are some kind of lycra-wearing alien species. I understand that people are frustrated with the state of driving in our city. Traffic volumes are high, especially on the main roads at peak hours. Driving is expensive, with gas prices sky-high. Those things frustrate me too, which in part encouraged me to make changes and take some trips by bicycle.
    Over the next 10 years the City plans to spend $300 million on road maintenance, plus about $150 million on winter control for our roads. The needs of drivers in this city are certainly not being ignored. At the same time, about $2.5 million of that is earmarked towards improving conditions for cyclists – adding bike lanes when roads are reconstructed. That works out to about 0.8% of the capital budget. 2006 estimates of current mode share for cycling to work is also 0.8%, however it is clear that has increased greatly over the last few years. That also doesn’t count trips made by those under 16, none of whom can legally drive a motor vehicle. There are more people to think about than just those of us going to and from work at rush hour.
    So we’re going to spend $450 million keeping the roads in shape, and still that won’t solve all our problems. If our economy stays strong we will see more people move here (although less than anywhere else in the GTA). That means more traffic. There is little space to add new car lanes anywhere without destroying vast swaths of our city. The only way to make life better for all of us will be to encourage some of the people who are using cars today to get around some of the time using other means.
    As has been shown in many places, providing infrastructure that is convenient, safe and preferrably segregated from high volumes of traffic actually does work to encourage people to take more trips by bicycle. It’s been proven – in cities across the world that if you build it they do come. Burlington is not immune. Nearly 50% of our trips are less than 5 km – an easy 20 minutes ride for a non-athletic person. The more of trips we can accommodate by bike, the more space that is available for those who use their car. And the better off we all are as a result. Every family that can make do without a second car (like mine has) can save approximately $10K a year after taxes based on the annual cost of maintaining, running and insuring a motor vehicle. What would your family do with a $15K/year raise?
    We are all in this together. From a driver, cyclist, pedestrian and transit user.

  2. @Carolynne…it is in fact the same # of lanes – one travel lane in each direction and a centre turn lane jsut as it is now.

  3. @franksgue Holland and Christchurch were not always like those places either. They made decisions which enabled them to get there over a long time frame. We are starting well behind where they are, but you are selling Burlingtonians short if you believe we are incapable of change. The climate here is not any worse than Amsterdam’s.

    • Sorry Chris….perhaps, having been born in Holland, I know a bit more about Amsterdam than you do. There is no question that Burlington’s climate is far worse than Amsterdam’s.

      • Not really when you look at the data. When it comes to cycling, we are concerned about rain & snow. Pretty much even. It is a little bit colder here, but we do have things called sweaters and coats which are quite effective in keeping us warm.

        Amsterdam avg. precip days 133 Avg. high in January 6.8C. Avg. snowy days/year 26
        Burlington avg. precip days 135.8 Avg. high in January -0.6C Avg. snowy days/year 25.5

  4. @Terry – And if someone’s going to City Hall or the Seniors Centre or the Library, or any other destination in the city that is not on a bike path they are out of luck? How would it benefit Burlington to restrict travel choice in this way? Do we mandate that every family moving here has to own 2 cars and use them exclusively? Having greater choice in how we get around is critical to our quality of life and critical to our ability to compete for residents and attracting business to our city.

  5. reduction to the number of lanes is planned. The same number of cars will be able to use the road as do today. Transportation Services have verified that the lower road width still exceeds all safety requirements for roads. Narrower travel lanes often do reduce speeding, which is another safety benefit.

  6. @Glynis Van Steen – your calculation assumes that only cyclists will be using New Street. That is not the case. The road is being resurfaced for all users. The difference in cost amounts to nothing more than a can or two of paint.

  7. No traffic lanes are being removed for this proposal. The purpose of cycle lanes is to encourage more people (i.e. not the ‘lycra set’ to cycle.

  8. Terry Hughes. I agree many of those who have already commented. We have a bike path that runs from Martha to Burloak. New St. is far to busy and commercialized to be devoting any roadway space for a bike lane. I often ride to Appleby from Maple on my bike and would never ride on New St.with or without a bike lane. The main streets in Burlington are far too dangerous for bike riding. We have provided the bike paths. Lets let the bikers use them.

  9. Here we go again messing up a busy traffic artery to try and appease a few cyclists. There has to be 5000 cars for every bike that goes down New Street every single day. Why are we trying to continually screw up the traffic flows for the sake of a few bikes. I don’t understand?????????

  10. I do not support bike lanes at all. I feel that autos should have freedom of the roads and cannot understand the move to increase the the potential dangers to the few (cyclists) especially in the winter (where were they ?). Why are we reducing the standards of safety, width, etc on which the roads were built ? To gain a few votes council is spending thousands of our tax dollars while claiming to have kept down this years budget. If we are to accept these changes then cyclists should be forced to wear ” yellow cross ” jackets for their own safety, have an accident insurance policy, and be licensed for the privelege of using the roads (like motorists). They should also have adequate brakes, lighting and a bell. The proposal to have one cyclist lane on the North side of New St will quickly be recognised as inadequate and another added to the South side . Watch this space. I was a cyclist for years and was smart enough to stay off city roads as too dangerous.


  11. I do not support bike lanes on New Street. There is a bike path already so there’s no need. I use New Street a lot as I live downtown and find that
    there is already a problem with merging traffic when the street narrows. I do not think it would be safe for cyclists as vehicle volume is high and congested already. Our tax dollars should be spent more wisely.

  12. Yeah and huzzas for Frank Gue & Jack Bentley-

    Jack is absolutely right on ‘sharhows’ on New Street/James are depraved – the street can barely handle the middle [and a god send it is, indeed].
    Let alone the slop that builds up along the curbs on both sides [ even in a mild winter. ]

    And I do not think I need to repeat Frank Gue’s remarks – living on Seneca – and having spent many day’s in the Rockies … mostly hiking though!

    but here goes [Thank you, Frank – for an eloquent and forceful answer …. I am profoundly grateful for it!] …

    From Frank Gue: I have been an enthusiastic cyclist all my life, having once done 1600 miles through the Rockies on a single speed CCM. That said, however, I must reluctantly opine that spending significant taxpayer money to redesign a road in such a way as to inconvenience thousands for the convenience of a few hundred is questionable. There is a forlorn hope in “green” circles that Burlingtonians can, by provision of bike lanes, be encouraged to be like Holland or Christcurch, where thousands cycle daily. But we aren’t those places. For five-six months of the year bicycling is impossible; and further, another 25% of the remainder is unsuitable because of rain or wind. Unhappily, also, there are a few yahoo motorists so biased against cyclists that they will honk or yell at one while passing, with the clear intention that the cyclist be startled enough to be made to fall. Add to this the irresponsibility and ignorance of the law of some cyclists and one has a recipe for serious trouble. I clip every news item I see dealing with cycling accidents and one day will try to calculate – if I can find the necessary statistics – the fatalities per bicycle-mile in Ontario. I suspect that it exceeds the same figure for cars. I am reluctantly opposed to provision of bike lanes.

    Cheers, Ricki!

  13. From Frank Gue: I have been an enthusiastic cyclist all my life, having once done 1600 miles through the Rockies on a single speed CCM. That said, however, I must reluctantly opine that spending significant taxpayer money to redesign a road in such a way as to inconvenience thousands for the convenience of a few hundred is questionable. There is a forlorn hope in “green” circles that Burlingtonians can, by provision of bike lanes, be encouraged to be like Holland or Christcurch, where thousands cycle daily. But we aren’t those places. For five-six months of the year bicycling is impossible; and further, another 25% of the remainder is unsuitable because of rain or wind. Unhappily, also, there are a few yahoo motorists so biased against cyclists that they will honk or yell at one while passing, with the clear intention that the cyclist be startled enough to be made to fall. Add to this the irresponsibility and ignorance of the law of some cyclists and one has a recipe for serious trouble. I clip every news item I see dealing with cycling accidents and one day will try to calculate – if I can find the necessary statistics – the fatalities per bicycle-mile in Ontario. I suspect that it exceeds the same figure for cars. I am reluctantly opposed to provision of bike lanes.

  14. Rather than wasting the money on this waste of paint (which is what I consider “sharrows” to be) why not save up our shekels and build a proper bike lane on the boulevard? I know the boulevard is some how sacred, because we need to have all that grass to mow, but it wouldn’t it be a better option than wasting money and paint on sharrows?
    Here’s a hint, take a trip to the Netherlands. See how it’s done. Forget this half baked nonsense. Even with lines painted on a roadway such as New Street where you’ll be hard pressed to keep to a speed limit of 60 kph, what’s to keep a distracted driver from crossing over and plowing into an unsuspecting cyclist? No amount of “high viz attire” or helmet use is going to save you from a couple tonnes of metal hurtling at you at 60 + kph.. I certainly wouldn’t ride there. Too dangerous. By the same token, forget the “bike path”. It goes nowhere, just like half the city buses around here.

  15. I oppose any reduction in the width of lanes on New Street. It is already a narrow (main artery) roadway heavily travelled the year round. ‘Sharrows’ or dedicated bike lanes become totally useless in the snow months, due to snow accumulations in the curb lanes. It would further impede the flow of traffic to accommodate the number of cyclists quoted in the study for possibly eight months of the year. We have precious few east/west through streets in lower Burlington.

    • People ride year round on segragated bike lanes in Montreal, Ottawa, Calgary, and Edmonton. It snows in each of those places far more than it does in Burlington.

  16. I don’t understand how there can be more cyclists going into the City but not coming back out? If the existing bike path isn’t working then it would be good to have a painted lane in each direction on either New or Lakeshore

  17. I do not support any bike path onto New Street. There is already one to the north – it’s the Centennial Pathway. And there is already one to the south – it’s call Spruce Avenue.

    • Centennial Bikeway is south of New Street, not north. Spruce Avenue ends just east of Guelph Line, and therefore is well beyond the area being discussed.

  18. Where does the proposed bike lane start on New St.? If it is at Guelph Line, where this is already a narrowing of the road or a man-made funnel, I oppose it. In general, i do opppose the funnel effect which is what one bike lane,one turning lane, sharrows on the other side etc. I also think that the bike path from Martha to Guelph is fine Line for bikers (if they are serious bikers, it doesn’t take long to get to a dedicated bike path and there aren’t really that many streets to stop, look both ways and go). There is less space between buildings and the road on New between Guelph and Martha and creating a bike lane will make it appear even more crowded.

    I would not be oppposed to
    SHARROWS on both sides of the road.

  19. The bike sharrs are not an advantage on New St. This road is heavily used during peak hours, in both directions especially to and fromToronto. The roads need to remain as full lanes and a cycle lane to be added.

    This winter proved challenging with the amount of snow encroaching onto roads and melt run off into the lanes already causes cyclists to veer away from puddles and road lesians into the path of vehicles. The picture above shows a reduction in the number of lanes, not a continuance of the same number of lanes. Lakeshore Road needs to be widened for the same reason. As stated in previous comments. The bike riders ride outside of the bike sharrs and do not move in to accommodate other traffic on the road, especially those who ride in packs or doubles. Designated bike lanes are needed and safer, NOT shared lanes.

  20. My take is this: 60 trips per day x365days =21,900 trips/year. IF every day was a perfect cycling day. Cost per trip = 825,000/21,900 = $37.61 per trip. VERY EXPENSIVE mode of transportation!!! I do not support my tax dollars to be used in this manner.

    • Good calculation. I agree completely. Please don’t waste tax dollars. Even sharrows in both directions a waste since there are several parallel alternatives.

      • This is an excellent calculation!!

        The preferred option is actually # 6 where seperate “path” will be built right beside the curb. The purpose is to physically sepatate the cyclists from the cars and pedestrians. Give them their own space. The 60 cyclists that are counted now are VERY capable of cycling in a challenging space. I suspect there are no 7 year olds riding to Central Library or Easterbrooks with their grand mothers on New Street. Option 6 would make that a safe possibility and a safe choice. Major infrastructure improvements like option # 6 are not focused on the few that will ride anywhere, any time, in any conditions. (like me) They are meant to make it safe and inviting for the small child, the anxious parent and the determined senior. In essence, Option 6 is for the vast majority of residents. Those of you young and old who do ride your bicycles sometimes but choose to drive because you feel (rightly so) that it is unsafe to ride your bike to where you want to go. Would you ride your bike to Easterbrooks on on a nice day with your child or grand child if you were certain that you would not get hit by a car, could ride at your own comfortable pace and could lock up you bicycle when you stopped to buy lunch?

        Maybe, or maybe not.

        60 cyclists can become 240 if people young and old feel safe cycling. If you do not feel safe riding your bike, you won’t. If you feel safe, you might, others will. That is who the project is for.

        • Just to be clear, the $ 825,000 is the cost to repave the road. that is already budgeted and accounted for. It will likely cost more than double that to add segregated bike lanes.

  21. It looks like lane reductions will occur on New Street in order to make this happen. I do not support this at all. There is a perfectly good (and safe) bike path that runs adjacent to New Street, why are we spending money and frustrating drivers for something that already exists in a better form? Dedicated bike lanes, seperated from traffic are the only way to go in my opinion.

  22. I echo the comments of Lynn Snider. Now that I see the picture of the proposed lanes I can’t under stand the need for it when the bike path is 50 yards away running parallel to New Street. New Street at this end of town is always busy and worse at rush hour. Licence and insure all cyclists so they equally assume the risk and I say you can put bike lanes any where you like.

  23. I attended the meeting at the seniors centre regarding bike lanes on new street. Since then I have looked at it closer and if the staff recommended sharrows on the south side and bike lane on the south side are the favoured, please consider. If you look at New Street from Guelph Line to Lions Park the most right turns when driving west towards Brant Street as well as the busiest are on the North side in my view. This is dangerous for those turning right into the bike lane for both the cyclist and the vehicle.

  24. I support segregated bike lanes, this will improve safety of cyclists and importantly pedestrians who will not have to constantly move over for cyclists on the multi use pathway, as often. We need to find ways to increase cycling in Burlington and segregated bikeways will help achieve this.

  25. Separate bike lanes are nice to have but we already have the Centennial bikeway, which I use. I support the Mead Ward position.

  26. Has anyone at City Hall ever driven on New Street during rush hour? Remove a lane to “accommodate” 60 cyclists and you create traffic congestion for the several thousand motorists using this street.

    Another problem is that cycling lanes are a waste of money. Six times in the past two weeks I have encountered cyclists riding side by side in the car lane next to the cycling lane. In all cases, they did not pull over into the cycling lane. All were the “Lycra Road Warrior” set. I am opposed to spending money on these hobbyists.

  27. I live on New Street, and use both bike and car. In summer, I would count among the 60 cyclists per day that use the street. I do use the sidewalk at times I deem it too dangerous to venture out onto the street. The proposal from city staff seems like a good solution.

    The problem with the bike path is that its not condusive to travel, because the cyclist must stop at every cross street. Imagine a stop sign for cars at every cross street along New St. Motorists would be very frustrated to say the least. Another frustration with the bike path is that, although it was conceived as a bike path, it is now designated as a multi-use path, and at times is dangerous for riders, pedestrians and animals alike (many of whom are not on their leashes). There needs to be space on the roads for bicycles.

    I appreciate that cars are the major mode of transportation but I don’t have much patience for auto drivers who seek to move bicycles off the road. I pay a lot of tax to this city and believe that improving cycling infrastructure is a good use of taxpayers money.

  28. My concern is that if there is a bike lane on the North side & sharrows on the South side you will have cyclists using the bike lane in both directions. This already happens on Guelph & Walkers

  29. A few points

    1. The count of cyclists only includes those who currently use the road. The city’s counters are not capable of counting cyclists using the sidewalks. From my observation, I can say that in places like New St. where no bike lanes are provided, at least 2/3 of cyclists in Burlington – especially younger ones – use the sidewalks. Therefore the actual # of cyclists using this street daily is likely closer to the 100-200 range during the cycling season.

    2. If we do nothing to improve cycling safety it will still cost $825K to repave New St. There is negligible additional cost to paint the road lines in a different configuration after the resurfacing is complete.

    3. You can’t force someone who is going to a destination on New St. to use the path any more than you can force a driver to cross the city using the QEW. There are lots of destinations on and close to New. People using the path have to use other streets to get to and from their destinations. The path is not a direct route to anywhere, and is not suitable or safe to be used by commuter or sport cyclists who travel at over 10km/h.

    3. Reviewing the City’s capital plan, we are spending $300 million over the next 10 years on roadways. Staff have also provided to Council the portion of this amount to be spent on bike lanes, which would total just short of $2.5 million (if done in conjunction with the road work as has been the case with all of the city’s bicycle lane projects to date). That represents 0.8% of the total capital budget for road work. The current mode share of cycling is estimated to be between 1.2% and 2% in Burlington. This means that relative to usage, we plan to spend a lower share of tax revenues per bicycle trip vs. what we will spend to accomodate other vehicles. It would therefore seem that spending money to accomodate motor vehicle trips is a bigger waste of our money than is accomodating those using bicycles. However no one on Council and no one in our community scrutinizes the dollars we spend on roads to the same extent they will agonize over bike lanes. Why is that?

  30. Please do nothing. $825,000 for 60 cyclists a day who “prefer” to use the road rather than the path is a very poor use of taxpayer’s money on a per use basis. Why not convince the cyclists to use the path? Also, how do the cyclists who go downtown on the road get back home – – – or are they from out of town just passing through?

  31. Could this lane be used for other vehicles as well, scooters, w.chairs etc.? Sidewalks are often too narrow where there is a driveway etc. and curbs with ramps are also too narrow.

  32. While admittedly not a cyclist myself, I don’t understand the need for a bike lane at all when there’s a bike path south of New that runs parallel. What am I missing here?

What's your take?

Branthaven Origins Tree Clearing Ghent

End of Ghent Street tree stand

Development proposed for 2267 Lakeshore Road; public meeting April 29