Ed. note: Kim the Traffic Reporter attended yesterday's hearing at which the bike lane proposal was discussed, and filed this report. We have invited Coun. O'Shaughnessy to appear today on the show, and area Coun. Harvey Smith for Friday.
On July 13th a meeting with the Standing Policy Committee on Infrastructure Renewal and Public Works was held at 10:30am, City Council Building at 510 Main St. dealing with the Sherbrook bike lanes.
Councillor Harvey Smith representing the Daniel MacIntyre ward spoke briefly with this committee, stating there are "legitimate concerns" regarding the bike lane. He complained that there had "not been consultation" with the residents.
Councillor Mike O'Shaughnessy, who is the chairperson of the Committee, disagreed saying that there had been "lots of consultation" and that "Kevin Nixon would not agree about the lack of consultation".
Belinda Squance of the Ellice Cafe was one speaker who stated that she could not support this bike lane for the two block route along Sherbrook, Belinda also stated there had been no consultation with the community and that there truly were no numbers available which would support this bike lane.
Belinda said that a member of Bike to the Future, Mark Cohoe had told her that they (BttF) had sat at Sherbrook and Ellice to counts bikes and the numbers were 2000 cyclists a day. Belinda Squance told the Committee that she is not opposed to bike lanes, but perhaps they could be during peak times instead of all day and that the community has been denied that compromise.
Belinda further went to say that "more people would be impacted negatively than impacted positively" with regards to these bike lanes and that the numbers she has are "significantly different" than those quoted by BttF and the Active Transportation Advisory Committee.
Belinda proposed that the bike lane be moved to Langside suggesting that a crosswalk be put into place at Langside and Sargent and in fact went on to say that the Spence St. Neighbourhood agreed with that assessment agreeing a crosswalk at Sargent and Langside would benefit not only cyclists, but the community as well.
Belinda told the Committee she had been informed there was "no money in the budget" to put a crosswalk in place at that location. In fact, a City engineer offered a suggestion a loading zone by the Ellice Cafe could be cut into the boulevard (take away green space for 'Active Transportation' ? - ed.), she suggested it would cost more to that than put in a crosswalk. Belinda also disagreed with the idea that consultation had taken place in the community, saying that the consultation had not been adequate at all.
Gloria Cardwell Hoeppner the Executive Director of the West End Business Improvement Zone was the next presenter to the Committee, Gloria indicated that while the "consultation was well intentioned, it did not reach the people". The West End Biz is asking for a compromise, to monitor the community to see if a bike lane is really needed for the length of time being demanded by the bike lobby or if perhaps the time could be limited to peak times. She suggested maybe two hour restricted parking be implemented and that the bike lanes should "start slow and then build" as the need becomes apparent.
Tina Tenbergen of the HSC user group (bike users) supports keeping the Sherbrook bike lanes as is saying the lane "goes right to HSC" and that it connects to Misericordia, Wolseley then connects to Academy, Harrow and the Southwest corner of the City. Ms. Tenbergen went on to say that it's "not just a question if the local area benefits but is a question of safety", meaning the safety of the cyclists. She further went on to say that "no parking is inconvenient, but bike lanes are for safety". Ms. Tenbergen indicated that she is a year round cyclists and wants the bike lane for winter use as well.
Councillor Jenny Gerbasi did not appear to be in favour of the peak time compromise, stating she "doesn't like it" meaning the lanes only being during rush hour, but did ask if people could get to work at HSC without the bike lanes during the day. Ms. Tenbergen responded indicating that people work different shifts througout the day and those people may not ride to work if there were no bike lanes available. (Coun. Dan Vandal was the third member of the committee but said nothing of note).
Anders Swanson was the next to present on behalf of the bike proponents, saying that he would not be in favour of a time limit on the bike lanes and that the most important factor is the safety of the cyclists. Swanson also indicated that more people would cycle if bike safety were taken into consideration. Anders Swanson also told the Committee that this area had the highest number of cyclists and pedestrians in the city.
Swanson further went on to say that more people would come downtown on their bikes if they had places to put them and that it took less room to park a bike than a car. Swanson also told the Committee that more people would rent apartments if there were more bike parking than vehicle parking and would encourage more people to bike to work than drive.
Swanson believes that if there were more bike lanes and bike parking then the 22 000 vehicles driven on Sherbrook would be decreased as more people cycled instead of driving.
Kevin Nixon the Active Transportation Coordinator for the city informed the Committee that he was not in favour of a part time or seasonal bike lane for Sherbrook, that he considers it to be unsafe and requested that the lane not be removed from Sherbrook.
I spoke briefly with Kevin Nixon after the meeting asking if he'd had any meetings with the residents of the neighbourhood (who are also the stakeholders).
I was told that the only meeting he'd had were with those who had attended the City Centre Community Meeting on June 8th. where only two residents had been present (see notes below).
At this point in time the Standing Policy Committee has decided to keep the bike lane on Sherbrook and will now be sent on to the EPC for further deliberations before going to City Council to be voted upon.
Oh were to start. Let's start with winter cycling. A year round "inconvenience" to the community for how many cyclists? How many people are so hard core they cycle during the winter? A handful is all. Yet an entire community should give up their parking, an entire community should be "inconvenienced" for the greed and demand of a small group of people who aren't even insured. Talk about arrogance.
The bike lobby talks about numbers. But they can't even get that right. Certainly the numbers we did on Sherbrook for one week don't add up to what we are being told by BttF. In fact, the BttF counts with one exception don't even have counts for the morning and afternoon on the same day, in the same month in the same year. And they talk about comparisons? With what? Imaginary numbers? Do they just pull a number out of a hat?
Anders Swanson tells us that it's easier to rent an apartment when bike parking is offered than when vehicle parking is provided. Who is he kidding? If we took a poll of the listening audience of Kick-Fm, how many would agree with that statement? How many people look at an apartment and ask about parking their cars? Please! As for Anders Swansons statements about the high number of cyclists and pedestrians in the area ... well hello ... let's look at the area. Many of these people can't afford a car, for that matter not all of those people can afford regular transit services especially as transit fares keep rising and not all can pay for regular trips on a bus.
Would more of this community drive if they could afford it? In my personal opinion ...yes. So I think we are looking at more an economic situation than any real desire to ride a bike. But BttF has blinders on and doesn't see the reality of this community.
Tina Tenbergen's statement that it's not a "question if the local area benefits".
OH REALLY???? So for the small amount of cyclists, a community should just roll over and play dead? For them? The quality of their lives should be disrupted because a few cyclists can't scoot over to Langside to use a bike path because it's not a direct route, when not only the community, but groups like Spence Neighbourhood would really like a crosswalk which would make things safer for that community.
But nooo that isn't good enough. It's the cyclists safety which comes first -- not the community. Can anyone say selfish?
Councillor Gerbasi sits in the hip pocket of the bike lobby groups, but I have to wonder, in her ward many people are upset with changes they knew nothing about, guess we will see how they react come October.
The fight isn't over, it's still ongoing. I guess the next step is to see if the EPC can be persuaded not to give in to a bunch of selfish, greedy people who want what they want regardless of how the community feels. Cycling is still a choice but it's being forced on residents and communities and being presented as the only way to go. How greedy can one group be..guess we'll find out.
PS. - If Councillor O'Shaughnessy really thinks consultation with the West End was done properly, he should be made aware of this comment we have already published on the blog. It comes from Kevin Nixon himself at that June 8th Community Committee meeting that sent this issue to Public Works committee for yesterday's agenda:
"Obviously we don't have it (public consultations) done right yet".
Posted by: a_centrist_view
July 30, 2010 at 9:08 AM