2641 names on a petition to kill the idea of bike lanes on New Street

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

January 23rd, 2017



The New Street road diet is one of those stories that just does not want to go away.

Each day we see new information dribble in while two woman continue to collect names for their on-line petition that now has 2141 names plus 500 signatures on a paper based petition.

The petition is at: bit.ly/newstreetroaddiet

Ruth Langdon, one of the two retired teachers behind the online petition, said one of her concerns is that this road diet will be continued onto Burloak Drive.

Do you measure

The idea was to share the road – motorists were taught to respect the signals painted on the road.

“The plan seems to already be completed for bike lanes on New Street from Guelph Line to Burloak Drive.” She adds that she believes “the city has started working on a road diet for Maple Avenue from Lakeshore Road to just south of Mapleview Mall – pilot project for next spring.

“And that they have started working on a road diet for Lakeshore Road from water treatment plant to Eastport Drive. Are these really pilot projects or done deals?

One of the problems is the city hasn’t provided the level of information people need.

New Street bike lanes - long pic

The city did hold an information night at Robert Bateman high school with a number of impressive aerial photographs that set out what city staff thought was possible in terms of a road diet. There were almost as many photographs as there were people.

The city did hold a public meeting at Bateman high school where they had impressive drawings laid out showing some of the options that were being considered for New Street. The meeting was poorly attended.

This all began when the Regional government announced they were going to upgrade the water mains along New Street – which meant re-paving the road. The work between Martha and Guelph line was done last summer.

The balance of the water main work, from Guelph Line to Burloak was to be done at a later date. The city has a commitment to a better modal split between cars, transit, cycling and walking and saw this as an opportunity to put dedicated bike lanes in just a portion of New Street and measure data they would collect. Were cycling accidents reduced? Was traffic relay slowed down? What differences in the flow of traffic were observed?

The cycling lanes on that part of Lakeshore Road that begins at Maple and runs along the edge of the lake to Eastport is a part of the redevelopment of the Beachway Park.

Cycling lanes on Maple was not much more than a thought.

The city did a very poor job of getting the long range story out to a public that was concerned about traffic congestion.

New street north side at Bateman Hs

Many think that if there is going to be a cycle lane it could be on the median between the sidewalk and the road. One staff engineer told the Gazette one of the reasons for the medians was for possible bike lanes.

Members of council who voted for the New Street road diet (all did except for Councillor Sharman) didn’t do much better. There is a confused public out there – they want answers and they aren’t getting them.

The New Street plan was to be a one year pilot project that got off to a poor start and didn’t get any better as the public began to learn more about the plans.

The understanding is that in a Phase 2 the city will look at physical separation between the bike lanes and vehicle lane – cement barriers

Ruth Langdon wants to know if barriers are going to be put in to protect cyclists from traffic whizzing by at 60km – how much will barriers cost? Will they be removed in winter, if so how much will that cost? If not removed how will plows work around them? Where will the bus stop, how will handicap vans function? How do they sweep debris from the curb lanes, do they need to buy another machine for that?

All reasonable questions – just no answers.

Langdon has arrived at the conclusion that “intensification plus implementation of bike lanes = more congestion.”

Alternatives to putting bike lanes on main roads is to improve existing bike paths(multiuse) and , pavement beside sidewalk-boulevards.

Chris Ariens, an avid cyclist and a member of the city’s Cycling Advisory committee said he wonders how many people on the on-line petition are non-residents. He said he had heard in conversation that some of the petition comments were from non-residents, but can’t say how many. He said he did read the petition a couple of weeks ago. “No indication of how many were from neighbouring municipalities but I did see Philip Waggett’s name there 3 times.

Ariens added that: “I understand that many people are upset about the situation, and there is a feeling of there being nothing in it for the 1/3 of the public who have zero interest in cycling and focused on getting where they need to go quickly.

“The payoff for them is many years away, which explains some of the negative feeling towards the project. The road diet is mainly a scapegoat for the larger issue of congestion – particularly on the QEW / 403 that plagues our city’s commuting experience.

What's wrong with this picture?

Is the New Street road diet a scapegoat for the larger issue of congestion – particularly on the QEW / 403 that plagues our city’s commuting experience asks a Gazette reader.

“That congestion is the root cause, which providing more convenient multi-modal options should help address in the long run. That is why the data from this project is so important. But we can’t ignore the feelings either, because as we have seen, it is feelings that drive action at the ballot box, not data.

Ariens has said previously that he isn’t committed to bike lanes on New Street – he just wants to see data that supports any decision made.

The public does get bits and pieces of information from Dan Ozimkovic, Transportation Planning Technologist through his online communications. Nothing with any consistent detail from the city which is causing much of the angst. There is a sort of ‘if they aren’t telling us – then there is something wrong’ attitude prevailing.

Ozimkovic is pretty clear when he says: “The new street bike lanes are absolutely not a done deal, it will depend on if there is a reduction in accidents in that stretch and not a significant increase in travel times, all of which will be reported on.

Bike lanes - New street

Existing traffic lane set up on the left. Pattern during th road diet for New Street. The drawing suggests there is some form of barrier between the cars and the cyclists – there isn’t – at least not during the trial phase.

Ozimkovic is as strong with his words when he tells a resident that “I can guarantee you that New Street isn’t a done deal. This is a pilot project and staff will write a report to Council Fall 2017.

This report will include all of the feedback received regarding this pilot project as well as the traffic data that we collected prior to the start of this pilot project and during the pilot project.

In another email to a resident Ozimkovic reports that: “We have 3 months’ worth of data. You are absolutely correct, we aren’t able to collect any data now for the reasons you stated below (less sunlight to power the batteries that run the data collection equipment) but we will start collecting data once again as soon as the nice weather rolls around. From that point, we will collect data until the end of this pilot project.

“We recorded close to 53,000 travel time trips. This includes prior to pilot project and during the pilot project. We recorded these trips using the Bluetooth technology. The only other way to record travel time trips is by going out there with a stop watch and driving on New Street. We would never be able to get that sample size if we chose to record travel times that way.

Ozimkovic reports that all of this info is available on our project website www.burlington.ca/newstreetpilot –

Eva Amos, the other retired teacher who organized the on-line and the paper based petitions with Ruth Langdon asks: “Why not reverse this decision now based on 2141 signatures on an online petition opposing the New Street Diet, plus 500 signatures on a hard copy of the petition, add the many comments councillors have received directly from residents?

“Drivers do not feel safer, cyclists tell us repeatedly they will never ride their bikes in these bike lanes. They prefer Spruce Avenue, Lakeshore Rd or the Centennial Path. Residents on the feeder streets say traffic and speed have increased on these once quiet residential streets.

“The short merge lane is a major concern. Emissions from idling cars now sitting in the backlog at Walkers and New Street at peak times is also a concern. Trying to get onto New Street from Pinecove especially is a problem.

“At the beginning of this diet we were told data was being collected by the city transportation Dept and we could get updates there. Trouble is, this data has never been updated. The technology being used cannot collect data now in the winter months, the days are too short and the batteries are not charging properly. Data will again be collected once the nicer weather is upon us. So at best we will have data for a portion of this trial and none in winter?

“I also have trouble with the technology being used. It may be the best we have at capturing most cars but it does not capture every car. How many are missed. We have no way of knowing. As I understand it, a mobile device has to be turned on in the car in order for it to be captured and counted. I for one drive with my phone on. My husband turns his off when in the car, as does my neighbour.

New Street traffic data Jan 23-17

Time to travel between Guelph Line and Walkers Line with the road diet in place on New Street. A lot of people are going to experience heart burn when they see those times. Data comes from the city web site.

“I find it almost insulting to the many drivers and residents of south Burlington trying to get from the east end to downtown or simply get home after a day’s work in a timely, safe fashion to tell them it only takes 72 seconds longer now to travel the distance between Walkers Line and Guelph Line.

“Based on resident’s daily experience it should read, after waiting in gridlock at Walkers and New Street or after waiting several minutes to make a turn onto New Street, it now takes 72 seconds longer to travel the distance.

“I don’t think we would have so many signatures on the petitions if it simply took 72 seconds longer to travel the distance as reported on the city website.

“Burlington is a bedroom community. People out of necessity have to drive to work or to the GO station. Burlington was never built as a pedestrian or cycling friendly city. Distances are too far between, shopping, services, appointments, sports activities. When I go to Toronto I take the GO train, and subway or buses to get around or walk. There is no comparison between the ease of getting around Toronto to Burlington on public transit.”

Eva Amos and Ruth Langdon have each lived in Burlington for more than 40 years. They are the epitome of decent people who expect decent services from their municipal government and straight answers to their questions.

Both were school teachers who met each other at the curling rink and now play golf together.

“New Street was a functional east/west road for years. Now with the population growing, Councillors decide to narrow this major east/west roadway.  “I fail to see the logic. It seems I am not alone” – there are at least 2641 people who share that view.

This story isn’t over yet.

The online petition is still open and can be found at: bit.ly/newstreetroaddietgetting new - yellow

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20 comments to 2641 names on a petition to kill the idea of bike lanes on New Street

  • Laurie

    Most drivers have forgotten cyclists are a legal “vehicle” in the highway traffic act. They are entitled to a FULL traffic lane not a “bike lane”. Drivers distracted by their busy lives have pushed cyclists out of the road way over the years to multiuse paths, and quiet streets. It is the cyclists right under the traffic act to use the road, and both driver and cyclist must follow the same highway traffic act laws.

    Under the highway traffic act regarding offenses the only difference between a bicycle and a car/truck is size. A cyclist can be even get a ticket for rolling through a stop sign. Know someone (cyclist)who got dinged with that during a snow storm.

    This is all about change, and people don’t like change. Well the world is changing… get over it.

    I drive New Street almost everyday at all times of day. The only thing that has inconvenienced me about the “Road Diet” was the construction. But as I have an engineering back I know that the construction would have had New Street down to one lane anyways, if it hadn’t been for the road diet. Otherwise, my time has never been inconvenienced.

    And, for those who are not seeing cyclists on New Street… It’s January… and cold out. Many put their bikes away till spring.

    Those who ride on side walks should be ashamed of yourselves if you are adults. Most of you don’t warn pedestrians of your approach and are inconsiderate to persons with disabilities using the sidewalk. You belong on the road in the bike path. Speaking as a person with a balance disability who walks on sidewalks I feel unsafe using the sidewalks in the area I live because of adults riding bicycles on the sidewalks.

    It is all the perspective one looks at it. Pedestrian or vehicle. Vehicles on the road, pedestrians on sidewalks. Bicycles by law are a vehicle.

    • craig

      I am not sure what tinme of day you drive New Street but between 4 and 5 it is crazy busy now takes way more than twice as long on average to do the block than when when motorized vehicles had two lanes.
      Also not too sure about your interpretation of vehicle act in Onatrio and bikes getting a full lane. It reads You(bikes) must stay as close to the right edge of the road whenever possible, especially if you’re slower than other traffic.It also says you can not ride bikes across a road within a pedestrian cross-over – you must walk your bike to the other side.

  • Eva Amos

    Roberto. I don’t think anyone “hates bikes so much” but most just think there is a better alternative than taking away a lane of a busy road. I too am a cyclist but don’t find it necessary to or indeed never would ride my bike on New Street with no physical barrier between me and 4000 lbs of steel. I ride on Spruce Avenue or the Centennial bike path. I live in the east end of the city and can ride all the way downtown on the bike path. Same going east. I think it’s time we put away this idea of cars against bikes. Let’s just work together to find better alternatives. Let’s get serious about cycling and build bike tracks as they have in Europe. Wide paths, people can ride three or four abreast. There is a physical barrier between cars and bikes. It makes for a pleasant cycling experience. Not what we have on New Street now. This I believe was a well intentioned idea but a failed one as it was designed.

  • Roberto

    Interesting most writers complain about the cyclists getting their way. As a resident of this community for about 30 years, I would say it is the vocal car centric, rear-ward looking majority that get their way. ie Lakeshore bike lanes.

    Why is cycling a black and white issue? There is room for everyone on the road, especially if attitudes are adjusted. Specifically for the majority car owners with 4,000 lbs plus of steel at 50 + kph vs 20 lbs of aluminum at 20 kph. You don’t see this ‘car only’ focus in Toronto, Montreal, London (GB), NY NY, or many other communities in Canada, the US and EU. Hamilton has many kms of really good bike lanes.

    Why do people call this a ‘war’ on cars? If you haven’t served, or are an immigrant from a war torn country, you have no idea what a ‘war’ is. Hearing it from your father, mother or uncle doesn’t count. Your hyperbole obscures the discussion and denigrates the experiences of those who have been through war.

    Why do people hate bikes so much? I’d love to hear. Anything but the usual:
    – bikes don’t obey the rules of the road. Maybe not all, but then neither do all car drivers
    – bikes don’t pay for roads. No, and neither do cars. Roads are built with Provincial and Federal tax dollars, not gas tax dollars. (the Gas Tax Fund is relatively new, accounting for only $17B across Canada)
    – bikes should be licensed. The Nazi’s tried that in Holland in 1943. It didn’t work then. Toronto tried it from 1934 to 1957 and stopped. (Yes, I’m that old)
    – bikes slow down traffic. You would need to show me a study that contradicts all the studies that show other wise. More bikes on the road = less cars on the road = faster traffic flow. The person on the bike scoots easily through traffic while the car driver sits and adds to their carbon footprint.
    – got anything new, let me know…

    I think SUVs are useless for most people’s needs and are intended to suck money out of your wallet and give you a harsher, less responsive ride. But hey, it’s your wallet, spend the money and drive a sloppy handling vehicle if you want to. Yet I am not out there proclaiming SUVs should be off the road and their drivers ridiculed. Why not leave me and my bike alone? You get to Point A by SUV, I get there by bike. We’ve collectively paid trillions of dollars in taxes to build car infrastructure. Why can’t we, as a society, pay a few millions for some cycling infrastructure?

    Full disclosure: I use the roads with multiple modes of transport: cars, bicycles, motorcycles, skateboards and a few pairs of running shoes.

  • Doug

    Maple Ave;
    I had heard rumours about road diet for Maple Ave, but though it was maybe an April fools joke (but it’s not April), not sure though who the fools are, residents or City Councillors. Where are the traffic Engineers or are they afraid to stand up to this Council (or squeaky minority groups) with proper traffic pattern planning?

    This is a main route to the hospital for ambulances, as well as fire trucks servicing the south end of the City. Not to mention the high volumes of traffic from Mapleview Mall (which need cops to direct traffic volumes), congestion created by the various summer events at Spence Smith park. This road is also the main thoroughfare to access the large number of high rises apartments/condos and retirement homes, as well as sports fields and gymnasiums that use it as a get to road.

    Maple Ave has had bike lanes for year and literally you can count the bike users in a year without taking your shoes off and to my knowledge not one of these 6 riders have ever been hit by a car.

    New St;
    Have Councillors or traffic Engineers ever travelled New St at 8am when Robert Bateman and Nelson High schools are going in, it bad enough with still 2 lanes, cars driven by teachers, students and large buses, traffic would literally come to stand still, not to mention the potential disasters at rush hours.

    Road rage will occur (as well as voter rage) if either one of the streets goes on a diet. Also I am not sure why Councillors parking spots at City hall are always full of cars since they ride their bikes to work, don’t they!! I thought they must be part of the 60 bikes that travelled New St 365 days a year.

    Rick Craven has told his constituents he will vote for diet no matter what we want, he knows better than us, you know, often wonder if he even owns a bike.

    Doesn’t really matter, as long as the moving van can get to my house, all will be good after that.

    • craig

      Wow when did Rick tell this to constituents as we may at last be able to get rid of him over this comment. If Aldershot folks think hospital delays coming because of Rick and slower traffic after the mess plains was in forever we may finally be able to get some new blood. I was after trime and place so I can go all over the net with this somment and to the SPEC and Post including Joan Little. Thanks

    • Stephen White

      Hey Doug:

      Rather than the moving van pulling up to your house perhaps it should pull up to Councillor Craven’s office after the next municipal election.

  • Stephen White

    Kudos to Ms. Amos and Ms. Langdon for getting up the petition. Pity Burlington residents have to go to this extent in order to get Burlington Council, the Transportation Department and the Cycling Committee to listen to majority opinion. Had common sense prevailed from the outset this Council would have heeded the dozens of e-mails, calls and comments on various forums BEFORE THE DECISION WAS MADE in which the road diet was clearly and vigorously opposed.

    Hopefully, this will be the start of some long overdue changes at City Hall. First, the majority on this Council, including our Mayor, need to go. To quote Oliver Cromwell “Ye have stayed to long in this here place for any little good you have done”. We need some fresh blood on this Council, and those who voted for this absurd proposal should be held accountable.

    Second, time to disband the Cycling Committee. This is not an advisory group anymore, it is a advocacy group, and taxpayers should not be on the hook to pay for this. These people have far too much influence and control over the transportation agenda. In any public policy making forum there needs to be a clear distinction between special interest groups and policy makers. Read the Minutes of the Cycling Committee and you can see that professional detachment is no longer in place. The response at City Hall to any contentious issue is to source out so-called experts and adopt their ideas in their entirety without any effort at broader public consultation. It not only smacks of elitism it is hugely disrespectful to the broader community.

    Finally, taxpayers are long overdue for a full organizational review at City Hall. Far too much time, energy and effort is being taken up on bike lanes, bike routes, etc. Time to radically shift the focus to traffic congestion, eliminating bike lanes, and improving bus service. Frankly, the needs of the elderly, the poor, the disabled and those on fixed incomes need to be considered. Given the choice between paying $210K on unused bike lanes vs. subsidizing public transit for those in genuine need I’ll choose the latter any day. Carole D’Amelio suggested this in her 2010 Mayoralty Campaign, and this idea is again deserving of serious discussion. Frankly, it would have far greater impact upon reducing pollution and improving access than pandering to the needs of a handful of cyclists most of whom aren’t using the blessed bike lanes anyway!

    • Tim

      I agree on the 210 K spend comment but restate the following:

      “there is no clear accounting of how these bike lanes that cost 210,000 dollars of hard earned taxpayer money got paid for. The city says their was city project cost savings however is unable to prove it and when asked – they are telling resident to fill in a Freedom on Information Act.”

    • Roberto

      Maybe cyclists aren’t using the bike lanes because more bike lanes are need to make a cohesive network.

      There should be more bike lanes!

      Thanks Stephen 🙂

  • Eva amos

    Chris in reply to your query as to how many people are signing the petition that are non residents I fail to see why a non resident shouldn’t sign and comment on it. As a visitor or perhaps former resident they too drive on New Street perhaps trying to get to visit family or friends, get to an appointment or come to our restaurants and shops. They also seem to be frustrated by the New Street road diet.

    • Chris Ariens

      Eva..that statement was in response to a question directed by Pepper…”How many non residents signed the petition to end the trial diet?”

      My response: “No idea. I have heard in conversation that some of the petition comments were from non-residents, but can’t say how many.”

      I did not wonder how many people who signed the petition were non-residents and would not have mentioned this as an issue had I not been asked the question.

      And I do understand that people get frustrated when they are in their cars. I’ve been there. Every second you’re not travelling at the speed you think you should feels like a minute. A minute stuck in traffic not moving feels like 10 minutes. That’s why it is important that we rely on actual, measurable data, not what people percieve.

      • Tim

        I am a resident and know of many other residents or what we like to be calls – taxpayers that have signed the petition against the road diet – residents were not engaged on the road diet – it shows how special interest takes control – as well can anybody explain how the bike lanes got ripped up less then 30 days after being put it

  • Tim

    I have trouble with the math – there is no clear accounting of how these bike lanes that cost 210,000 dollars of hard earned taxpayer money got paid for. The city says their was city project cost savings however is unable to prove it and when asked – they are telling resident to fill in a Freedom on Information Act.

    Something tells me the accounting for this project was not on the level.

  • gordon

    Where can we sign a petition against the brainless (and abusive) 4.5% tax hike?
    We need a march down Brant St for a rally at City Hall over this one.

  • craig

    looks like only way out will be to remove from office all those in favour of the diet so next council and mayor can reverse the decision and remove the bike lane that the majority of Burlington residents dfo not want.

    • Roberto


      Sometimes the majority is wrong. Can you spell D-R-U-M-P-F?

      I want bike lanes (minority)
      I wanted new people on council, yet they got the majority votes (minority again, yet comments here say ‘oust them’)

      How can I be wrong and yet be right?

  • Phillip

    Residents and taxpayers who are being impacted by the New Street Fiasco should note a couple of things. Goldring stated that there would be NO ADDITIONAL COSTS beyond the pilot but if the lane reductions are now made permanent–which would be from Guelph Line to Burloak; indeed there will be additional costs–Barriers plus having to plow them seperately from Guelph Line to Burloak to accommodate the approximately ZERO winter cyclists!?!?!? There is still no plan to examine a full cost-benefit analysis of this project, in particular the huge cost being imposed on local residents of inconvenience and reduced safety. It is clear that the costs accrue to these residents PLUS the thousands of daily vehicle users on New Street to benefit so few cyclists (at most, .5% of all road users on an annualized daily basis).

  • Stephen W

    Speak to Burlington Transit drivers. They will tell you what a silly idea it is. How it is impacting traffic and safety. How few bikes are using the bike path. I’m convinced Burlington has a war on cars.. Don’t maintain the roads, put as many stop signs and and lower the speed limit.then add speed bumps and reduce lanes to make traffic crawl. I am growing to hate this city and I have lived here for nearly 50 years. Time to leave now are taxes are going up nearly 5%

  • Steve

    The best plan is to get rid of the politicians who continue to ignore the vast overwhelming number of taxpayers who don’t want to be ruled by a tiny handful of bicycle activists. Vote them out.