City to try car-free Sundays in June and July. Can it work? It will if you want it to.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  May 4, 2012  Joan Ford, the woman who counts the city’s money, and is referred to as the Acting Executive Director of Finance,  was standing on the sidewalk shaking her head and doing a mental count of the cost of all those people on the street – it was more than she wanted to admit.  They appeared to be having fun though.  All the merriment along Elgin Street Thursday noon was to promote the two car- free Sunday’s planned by the city for the summer.

This crowd wants to see a car-free Sunday. Will Burlington take to the idea?

The initiative came out of a conversation Councillors Paul Sharman and Jack Dennison had which Councillor Meed Ward joined in on after some initial hesitation.  Both men are avid cyclists; Sharman gets around his part of town on his bicycle and Dennison makes recreational use of his – frequently taking part in long bicycle tours.

Area in which cyclists can ride car-free June 10th

Area in which cyclists can ride the streets car-free July 15

Getting people out of their cars and using the streets for just bicycles has been something Mayor Goldring has wanted to see happen for some time – so Burlington is taking the plunge and closing down some streets and opening them up to cyclists and pedestrians.  Will it work?  Hard to tell.  It will take quite a bit of promotion but it has worked and turned out to be very popular in other cities.

The people behind the idea held a press conference at City Hall’s Civic Square and then all rode their bicycles and had their pictures taken.  All the “usual suspects” were there, including Robert Narejko, who had his bike with him and commented to a well-known wag on the eighth floor of city hall,  that the seat on the bike was worth more than the bike itself – to which the wag responded: “Well at least we know where your values are”.  It was that kind of an event.

The first car free day will be June 10th, when all lanes on Appleby from New Street to Fairview will be closed.  The

South side lanes on Fairview Street from Appleby Line into Sherwood Forest Park will be closed as well.

On July 15th full lane closure on Brant Street between Blenheim Street and Lakeshore Road. The north two lanes on Lakeshore Road between Brant Street and Locust Street will be closed and the northbound lane on Locust between Lakeshore Road and Blenheim Street will be closed.  Full lane closure on Blenheim Street between Locust Street and Brant Street.

Will there be traffic congestion?  Some.  Will there be irate motorists – yup, but whenever there is a change people get upset.  Some will be “outraged” that they were not informed.  Such is Burlington.

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