Comments on the cycling survey - are the right questions being asked?

News 100 greenBy Staff

February 6th, 2018



Joe Gaetan is a Burlington resident who lives in a high rise on Maple Avenue.

He cycles about 1,250 km a year in Burlington and another 250 km while vacationing in Palm Springs CA

Gaetan finds Palm Springs a much better place to cycle than Burlington, mainly because of their wider streets.

The Cycling survey is online.

He completed the online Cycling Plan survey and has some comments:


Do sharrows give a false sense of security?

“In terms of increasing the amount of cycling, I don’t believe there is much Burlington can do that will cause me to cycle more. But here are few things than could be considered when reaching out to us in surveys. I am not a big fan of cycling sharrows as I believe they give one a false sense of security and I go out of my way to avoid using streets that have sharrows.”

Here are some things/comments ideas etc. that impact cycling and could possibly be added to the survey.

Will this MAyor on this bike ever get to ride on a separate and safe bike lane on the LAkshore Road? Not if they MAyor folds at city council this evening.

Mayor Goldring on his bike, Councillor Dennison on roller blades – a photo op.

Cycling Frequency ( how often and how far)
Daily, weekly, kms. cycled per year etc
In which months do you cycle using check boxes Jan to Dec

Why I don’t cycle to certain destinations?
Fear of having bike stolen
Location and type of bike stands

Things I fear the most as a cyclist:
Distracted drivers
City buses
Pick-up trucks with large side mirrors
Young children suddenly crossing my path
Pedestrians with head phones

Cycling driver dooring a cyclist

Driver education.

Why do I cycle?

Things I would like to see
Bike licensing ($5 per person vs bike we have 4 bikes)
Mandatory lights and bells
A cycling awareness program to cyclists, pedestrians, motor vehicle owners
Something on electric bicycles

The city is well into the construction of the Elgin Promenade – a bike/walking path that runs from Brant to Martha and will connect with the Centennial Path.

Elgin promenade

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38 comments to Comments on the cycling survey – are the right questions being asked?

  • David Fenton

    Here we go again. I thought that after the ‘New St trial’ predictably failed, we could all get on with our lives.
    Why on earth would we spend our money on infrastructure to accommodate a mode of transport that nobody uses?
    The traffic in this city is bad at times I know, but i’ll sit in my warm car listening to the radio thanks.
    The horse was a mode of transport once and then along came the automobile. The automobile was literally a buggy/cart but without the horse, we fell in love with it.
    Skip to the present, we do realize the problems associated with….Not the automobile, but the engine that drives it, just like it’s predecessor the horse, that by the way was also a major source of pollution.
    We seem to still love our buggies, but the reason’s we are still pumping gas into them is to do with big oil and big auto makers.
    The Bicycle is not a buggy! It is for one person, and it is a damn inconvenient, uncomfortable, miserable pain in the bum way to travel at that.

  • BurlingtonLocal

    For the $221,000 we have recently wasted, we could have bought one-way tickets for all of Burlington’s daily cyclists to Amsterdam. And then flown in Toderian to preach to the choir. This survey is a joke. Presenting bicycling as a realistic commuting option in a distant suburb, that is bisected by multiple highways, is laughable. Cycling is a recreational hobby in Burlington at best, it’s time to start treating it as such.

  • Joseph Gaetan

    So,no discussion on the merits of electric bicycles? As to the New St bike experiment, per the COB website,”The cost of implementing the New Street one-year pilot is $210,000. This money was found through savings achieved when a tender construction contract for New Street west of Guelph Line came in under budget”. Found money is still wasted money and the process that lead to the waste, begs some scrutiny.

  • Tom Muir

    Eva provides some interesting data on the path cyclists. One problem I have to work with these numbers is if the path numbers are for the month or for each day? Are the path trips for weekends, or what?

    The New St numbers were by day, so this is a key piece of info to compare New with the path usage. And to compare these numbers with the number of cars transiting these screen-lines at the same times.

    And I note that only July and August are reported. What about measuring the rest of the year? Is nobody there in winter, so the city has already decided not to monitor riders?

    Can the cameras show bike riders with loads of groceries, or any groceries at all?

    In any case, I think the City focus on biking as a realistic part of the city transportation plan is blown way, way, way out of proportion in its possible impact in comparison to cars and trips using cars.

    Whatever the numbers are that Eva provided, they will still be vanishingly small compared to car trips, and in winter, only the die hard riders will remain – mere crumbs. This is reality.

    Now I support providing more opportunities for safe and increased cycling for whatever reason people might have in mind. And I don’t want to argue with Chris about it, as I would like a crosstown, safe route myself.

    But in reality, bikes will never become a significant mode of transport compared with cars in the real numbers – never, never, never – so let’s fess up to this, and learn a little numeracy to see this.

    Or is this another something not learned from the New St trial?

    That does not mean that a bike plan is not worthwhile. I think it is, but it’s not even a band-aid on the gross traffic mess that the city is creating as they try to manipulate the lives of the residents using the residents money to do it.

    It’s in the city interest to make it look like biking is a realistic solution to how they are packing people and cars in without a workable transportation plan that is fully described to 2031, and funded with identification of costs and sources of the funds.

    It’s all convenient deception, like the Emperor’s Clothing.

    Do the numbers!!

    • Eva Amos

      The numbers I reported on the multi-use paths are a daily average. I obtained this data from the transportation dept and I have numbers for every month May 2015 to December 2016. Data for 2017 had not yet been compiled. The reason I just reported July and August 2016 was because there is no data for New Street for the months of November, December and January due to equipment failure. Another fact that was not reported. I was told the camera at Cumberland and New was installed earlier in the year during the watermain work but unfortunately the best data was not being gathered due to vehicle and bike lanes being closed. An interesting comparison would be to actually compare the daily numbers from the New Street pilot to the 2017 numbers on the multi-use path. Unfortunately many months are missing from the New Street data. The lowest number on the multi-use path is for Dec. 2016, 28 cyclists daily.

    • Chris Ariens

      Tom: do the numbers indeed. Let’s start with the city budget. Bicycles are still going to take up a very small part of the $300 million budgeted for roadways in the City over the next 10 years (that’s only the capital expenditures, doesn’t count winter maintenance, and doesn’t include the Regional roads including most major arterials north of the QEW). The numbers of people riding bikes may also be small now, but so long as they continue to grow, and grow faster than the population in general, our city will be able to offset the impacts of growth on roadway users, and reduce the long run costs of meeting our citizens’ mobility needs. Over the last two decades, cycling as a main mode of commuting in Canada increased by 89%. Nobody expects bikes are going to solve every problem with respect to getting around the city, but they will help. And the transit plan is coming in 2019, with the focus right now being stabilization of the service. That will offer additional support. Having more destinations and housing in walkable distances (i.e. mobility hubs) will also help us get to where we want to be.

      Thinking about the numbers a bit more, just a 2% increase in mode share would be equivalent to the overall impact of Burlington Transit in its entirety. And our competitors around Ontario are aiming for much higher than that. By comparison, Vancouver saw an increase of 3% (from 4% to 7%) in just the last 4 years. Ottawa (a city that gets much worse winters than Burlington) has a goal of 8% cycling mode share by 2031.

      Most cities that have significant modal shares of cycling started long ago, and kept expanding their networks over generations. It will take time for us as well. Calgary moved quickly to build networks on major downtown arteries and saw rapid improvements in the measured bicycle traffic in the downtown core. That may or may not be the template for Burlington to follow – the plan should give us some indication of whether something like that would make sense in our city from both a usage and a budget perspective.

      BTW, I believe the #s Eva quoted are average per day during those months.

      • Tom Muir

        Chris, I thought we were talking about biking, and what the numbers of biking trips are compared to car trips?

        This is the perspective I wanted to analyze. The actual absolute numbers, and their comparison, is almost the only numbers you didn’t talk about.

        It almost goes without saying that biking takes up a very small part of the roadways budget. Money is not the real problem here, so let’s not waste our time on this.

        You make a lot of assumptions about behavior changes, and growth in bike use, so that more people ride bikes, but you still never show what this growth assumption is in what the absolute numbers of bikers grows to, and what kind of dent this makes in the absolute car use numbers, including its growth.

        It’s just assumption based, unrealistic, and misleading, to speak of a 2% increase in mode share in terms of comparison to the transit mode share, in the same stream of thought as your biking assumptions set, but you word it in a way that associates biking as responsible for the 2% increase in mode share.

        Show the numbers to illustrate this. How many bike trips is this, and how does that compare with present data supported bike trips, and compared to car trips?

        Without the ratio of bike trips to car trips, and what the respective numbers are, you can’t show that this growth will be able to offset impacts of growth on roadway users, and meet the costs of citizen mobility. This is just an assertion set of yours that cannot be shown with evidence provided.

        As well, transit is of more life-needs effective use (I don’t think many riders do it for recreation purposes) to more people than biking, but it costs a lot and has not been well funded.

        Are you actually saying that biking will provide as many effective trips as transit? Many people ride bikes just for recreation. I can’t imagine biking replacing transit.

        Have you forgotten already the data and information provided by the New St trial?

        This attempt only increased biking by 20 trips a day – this is almost nothing. How many multiples of this 20, in numbers, and by what means, does it take to reach the 2% modal shift share?

        And a transit plan in 2019 is not useful now, when there are such big decisions on the OP being made with associated population growth.

        You need more than assumptions using percentages of growth, without showing the actual numbers at the start and the end, and in comparison to the alternative numbers. This method is no more than assuming what you want, but not providing any perspective or context.

        Vancouver is not Burlington. The climate is very different. The West End alone has about 200,000 people, and is a very dense and high-rise area.

        The other cities cited need numbers too, and analysis of context, perspective, and city form.

        Anyways, I said initially that I didn’t want to argue with you, and I don’t, but some things just stand out that need brought up.

        I conclude that as I have said here, and before, you need to show the numbers that describe the reality in the numbers.

        I’m afraid you avoided this here.
        This is not analysis, it’s a story.

        • Chris Ariens

          OK…Tom, I’m going to try and humour your request here, although I’m certain you’ll find something that doesn’t qualify as numerate enough to meet your standards. I’ll refer to the most complete data sets publicly available – the 2011 Transportation Tomorrow Survey and the 2016 census.

          Across the city…404,600 trips. 73% of trips made as driver, 4% by walking and cycling. (The City uses a figure of 77% of trips made by driver in the Transportation Plan data, but I am not sure of its source, so I’ll use the 2011 TTS.)

          Based on the proportions in the StatsCan census profile (2,890 people whose main mode of commuting is walking, 690 cycling), that means the 4% can be divided as 3.2% walking and 0.8% cycling. 6 years ago that was the cycling mode share. With the growth we’ve seen over the past few years, it wouldn’t be unrealistic to suggest we are at a mode share of close to 1% today. But I’ll use the 0.8% to be consistent with the 2011 start date.

          So of a total 405K daily trips, that works out to 3,236 bicycle trips per day. And about 295K car trips per day.

          Burlington’s targeted growth is from population 176K in 2011 to 193K in 2031. That’s a growth rate of 0.46 per year. I’m going to assume we see stronger growth and get to 200K population by 2031.

          Assuming same # of trips per resident in 2031, that means 460K trips per day in 2031. If the same percentage is made by driver (73%), that’s 336K daily automobile trips. An increase of 40K automobile trips vs. 2011 and if we keep the relationship between automobile trips and population consistent, that would be an increase of about 28K trips vs. today. Assuming the number of bike trips also grows with population, we would have 3,677.

          In order to divert 28K car trips and keep the level the same as today, we would need to reduce that 73% mode share of drivers down to 67%.

          I don’t believe that cycling alone is going to do all of that. We absolutely need the contribution from building better transit. From the in-fill of new residents close to destinations and new destinations close to residents that comes with growing “up but not out”. We probably need more carpooling and other demand management programs to contribute as well.

          But consider the impact of meeting a 5% cycling mode share target. That would be 23K bicycle trips per day or an increase of 19K from today. A modal share level which has been attained in Minneapolis (a city which knows winter weather quite well), Victoria BC, and Flagstaff, AZ (where it often gets uncomfortably hot to bike). Can we get there? I’m certain that if we apply a similar 5% share of the roads capital funding at the city level ($15 million over the next 10 years), and the region, province and federal government make similar commitments of their transportation budgets, that we can have at least build the beginnings of a minimum grid of routes in the city that are suitable for all ages and abilities. And why not include electrically-assisted bicycles as well?

          I’m in no way suggesting that transit can be replaced by cycling. But for many people, bikes and transit work together extremely well, especially when you have a frequent service like the GO train running every 15 minutes to Hamilton and Toronto in convenient biking distance. Which all of the urban portion of Burlington does. While I wish we could be working on that plan simultaneously, the transit people have decided that this year the priority is to use the additional funding received in the 2018 budget to stabilize the operations then proceeding with the detailed future transit plan next year.

          The growth of 20 cyclists (or 33%) on New Street occurred over the course of a single year, on a single road. It was not designed as a cycling-friendly experience whatsoever. The lanes just ended before the major intersections and there was no protection beyond just a painted buffer, so frankly I was very surprised the numbers on that stretch of road increased at all. We can do much better than that over the length of the cycling master plan.

          We know that as the network grows, and is made safer, more people are attracted to it. We can observe this phenomenon worldwide. You can pick nits about any or all of the individual cities…warmer climates, , but when you look at them collectively, it’s clear that cycling is growing by leaps and bounds. A city would be off its rocker to ignore the potential of such a low cost, efficient and enjoyable form of transportation, even if it’s only taken up by a small fraction of the population. It’s also about our economic future. Employers are demanding that their talent can have access to the workplace by a variety of modes. And they want better places to live, work and play. Amazon’s RFP made bike lanes a requirement. It’s no co-incidence that K-W is accelerating their cycling plans, building protected lanes in the centre of Waterloo as well as LRT to direct its future growth towards the already urbanized area.

          28K more cars in the city? That would be a disaster. We have the slowest growth in the GTA, but if it’s all based on cars, it would cripple our city. Trying to do it all with transit, means that Burlington Transit has to go from 2% today to 8%. 4x the ridership will be very expensive. I can’t imagine a viable future for this city without the bicycle being a significant part of it.

          • Eva Amos

            Chris. Could you please provide the number of months there is data for cyclists on New Street for the pilot project.I beg to differ with your statement that there was a 33% increase over the course of a single year. I believe this was for a very few months when data was collected, likely the summer months. Also I believe cyclists may have been captured crossing New Street to get to the protected multi use path. I have asked for the data on a daily basis for the entire year from the transportation dept and will report it as soon as I get it.

            I know there is no data for November, December or January and I am quite certain there are more months that data was not collected.

            Also the increase in numbers just might be from cyclists that tried the lanes but didn’t feel safe and would not use them again. There were many such comments on the petition from cyclists. These would have been captured and counted.

            This to me certainly does not represent complete and transparent reporting.

          • Chris Ariens

            C’mon, Eva. I’m being as transparent as it’s possible to be here. The staff report had an original count of 60 per day before the pilot, and the count of 80 after the pilot. Which represents a 33% increase over the original 60. Over a pilot which lasted slightly longer than one year. Counts were conducted at the corner of Cumberland and New. I don’t know when the original count was conducted, but I believe it was also conducted during the summer months.

            Again, I was surprised to see any increase at all. The numbers are small enough that it could have been entirely circumstantial. We don’t know. We should have done much better than was done for the New Street Pilot. But the point of it was not about increasing the number of cyclists in the short run. It was about testing what the impacts were, primarily on other road users. I agree completely that many people didn’t feel safe using the lanes the way the City installed them. Especially since they vanished before Guelph Line and Walkers, dumping a rider right in the middle of a traffic lane before the intersection.

            As part of the Cycling plan, I’m sure you’ll agree that safe infrastructure for all ages and abilities should be the focus. More like the Centennial Path and less like the New Street pilot.

          • Eva Amos

            Chris. I’m not suggesting you are not being transparent in reporting on the numbers the transportation dept have provided. I believe the report is not complete and transparent. Agreed it was a pilot that lasted slightly over a year but there is no data for the entire year. Why wasn’t it reported like that. If there was an increase of 33% for two months or 6 months of the pilot, that is what should be reported.

          • Tom Muir

            Chris, You achieved partial humour … And what is your problem with high numerate standards?

            I have a question with one of your calculations. You said;
            “Assuming same # of trips per resident in 2031, that means 460K trips per day in 2031. If the same percentage is made by driver (73%), that’s 336K daily automobile trips. An increase of 40K automobile trips vs. 2011 and if we keep the relationship between automobile trips and population consistent, that would be an increase of about 28K trips vs. today. Assuming the number of bike trips also grows with population, we would have 3,677.”

            I don’t understand the logic of how you reduced the 40K increase in car trips to 28K.

            The 40K is proportional to the population growth, and the growth in bike trips also grows with population, but it is not reduced by you like the increase in car trips.

            Can you please show us the arithmetic and rationale for this decrease?

            If 40K is correct, this pencils out to a need for a 40/28 times 6% equals an almost 8.6% point reduction in the drivers modal share, from 73% to 64.4%.

            Before we can run these numbers through your illustration, we need to know the answer to my question.

            Once we get this answer, I can finish my own analysis of your narrative.

            Edited for unacceptable language.

          • Chris Ariens

            Tom, no problem anwsering your question. I do wonder about the unacceptable language though.

            The difference of 40K car trips was from 2011 (the date of the TTS) to 2031.

            I assumed growth in both the number of car trips and the number of bike trips between 2011 and 2016, in line with the increase in Burlington’s population between those two dates.

            Therefore the increase in car trips between 2016 and 2031 (assuming the same 73% mode split in 2016) is 28K.

            I do have a question though for you. I’m happy to oblige by providing some projections on how a cycling network can help our city manage its growth. And subjecting those ideas to scrutiny is fair. It helps to improve the ideas to do so, so long as the feedback is constructive.

            However I don’t see any comments from you asking for the same scrutiny when others post in opposition to the idea that cycling is a part of our transportation mix. Why the double standard?

          • Tom Muir


            You say you adjusted the car trips in 2031 to the year 2016, from 2011, as the start point.

            So the 40K was reduced to 28K for the period 2016 to 2031.

            But you didn’t adjust the bike trips to 2016.

            The population growth from 2011 to 2031 is 176K/200K equals 1.136, and this growth factor multiplied by the 2011 bike trips of 3236 equals the 2031 total you note of 3677.

            Both estimates must be for the same year, so the next steps in your comment are consistent. I’m willing to consider your projections data.

            Regarding your last paragraph, I cannot comment to everyone that posts in opposition to you, as that is pretty much everyone else. And by and large I agree with their points of view.

            For another thing, I started this commenting arguing that cycling would never replace the car to any great extent in the numbers. I copy from above what I said;

            “In any case, I think the City focus on biking as a realistic part of the city transportation plan is blown way, way, way out of proportion in its possible impact in comparison to cars and trips using cars.

            Whatever the numbers are that Eva provided, they will still be vanishingly small compared to car trips, and in winter, only the die hard riders will remain – mere crumbs. This is reality.

            Now I support providing more opportunities for safe and increased cycling for whatever reason people might have in mind. And I don’t want to argue with Chris about it, as I would like a crosstown, safe route myself.

            But in reality, bikes will never become a significant mode of transport compared with cars in the real numbers – never, never, never – so let’s fess up to this, and learn a little numeracy to see this.

            Or is this another something not learned from the New St trial?

            That does not mean that a bike plan is not worthwhile. I think it is, but it’s not even a band-aid on the gross traffic mess that the city is creating as they try to manipulate the lives of the residents using the residents money to do it.”

            THat’s what I said, and I asked you to provide the numbers to support your claims.

            So that’s what I said, and I haven’t yet seen a sufficient quantitative analysis, at the micro numbers level, and not high level abstract view, to change my mind.

            I still support a cycling plan, but not the city promoted idea that it will make a great difference in the transportation problems the city has and is planning to make worse.

            People just don’t support the plan as realistic in a car dependent society. That’s what you are seeing in the comments opposing your ideas.

            I suggest we take this offline as suggested. I just do not have the time right now to devote to this in the short term commenting format.

          • Chris Ariens

            As per our off-line discussion, the bike trip #s for 2016. Corrected slightly to use the actual % of 19.27% of the walk/bike total.

            Based on an estimated total # of 3,119 bike trips per day in 2011, and population growth from 2011-2016 (assuming no change in mode share 2011-2016), that would mean we have approximately 3,253 bike trips per day in 2016. Should that share remain consistent, we would have about 3,549 bike trips per day in 2031.

            2011 2016 2031
            Population 175,779 183,314 200,000

            Trips 404,600 421,944 460,351

            Car Trips (73%) 295,358 308,019 336,056
            Walk/Bike Trips (4%) 16,184 16,878 18,414
            Bike Trips 3,119 3,253 3,549

            Main mode of commuting: Walk 2890
            Main mode of Commuting: Cycle 690
            % of Walk / Cycle that is Cycling 0.19273743

  • Eva Amos

    What did we learn from the New Street Pilot Project? It was reported that there was an increase of cyclists from 60 to 80 a day on New Street. What was missing from the staff report was the number of cyclists on the multi-use path. After learning there were cameras on these paths I asked for the data. Here are the numbers. Appleby Line at Centennial Multi-use Path July 2016 384 cyclists, August 385. The Martha Street at Centennial path July 600 cyclists and August 550.
    This strongly suggests cyclists favour safe, protected paths and do use them. I would simply like to see these numbers reflected in the data that is being collected. Complete and transparent reporting. The numbers for the multi-use paths were not available yet for 2017.

  • Phillip

    Another “fluff” survey to be answered by cyclists–are the results predictable?
    Especially when you consider that there are no controls on the number of times this special-interest group can respond to the survey and thus skew, in a highly predictable manner, the survey data. Steven White’s concerns are well-founded.

    Chris Ariens’ is correct is saying that legal requirements for the operation of the bicycle are under provincial jurisdiction. Of course, he is quite disingenuous in suggesting that the bureaucratic costs of administering licensing are too high to reap any net benefits. The province already has the bureaucracy in place–Service Ontario, so the fee for administering an annual license fee will easily outweigh the costs. All road users pay taxes but at present only car drivers pay an annual user fee–this is clearly inequitable if another group, cyclists, don’t have to pay the fee.

    • Chris Ariens

      If your goal is to further marginalize cycling, that might make sense.

      If your goal is to promote cycling and make it an option for a greater number of citizens, then I highly doubt that adding a licensing requirement will do anything other than being an impediment.

      Nearly every city which has had such a program has subsequently cancelled it due to ineffectiveness. Toronto voted 3 times on the issue and each time rejected the idea. A very vocal segment keeps pushing the idea, and it keeps getting shot down, so I don’t believe there’s going to be any traction, provincially or otherwise.

      It may not be “fair”, but there exists much unfairness between the operation of a vehicle that weighs several tons propelled to high speeds by the flick of a foot, and a vehicle of 20-50 pounds propelled by the users own power.

      It’s also not fair that we all pay the same amount of property taxes regardless of how much we use the local roads. Maybe we should allocate the amount we pay for local roads by kilometres driven (or cycled) on them at a rate equivalent to the wear and tear we place on the road. GPS technology can capture that relatively easily. That idea will probably fly just as well as the bike licensing idea.

      I’m sure Philip would love to share his own data proving the safety and other benefits that would be gained from such a program, and would be willing to share his insight with his fellow citizens, instead of casting aspersions on those of us who are trying to improve things in the city.

      • Phillip

        Again, Chris you try to compare a high-cost municipal licensing system with that run by the province. In your first response to Stephen White, you referred to provincial jurisdiction but now that approach doesn’t favour your argument, you use data from a non-provincial program. A bit of consistency is needed. Be honest, Chris, cyclists just want a free ride.

        As for improving things in this city, you only view improvements through your own filter of self-interest. The fact that the vast majority of this town may not agree with you is of no consequence–only the opinion of you and your cycling lobby matters. I suspect that things are going to change dramatically by the end of the year–no Wynne, no McMahon, no Goldring, no Dennison, no Ridge,no Tanner. The tail wagging the dog will be no more!

        • Chris Ariens

          Phillip…is there any province (or similar jurisdiction elsewhere in the world) that has been able to deliver a low-cost licensing system for cyclists? What was the impact? I would be happy to provide a provincial example if there were any.

          But I see you aren’t interested in actual evidence-based decision making, your only interest is in discrediting me and any others who are supportive of cycling.

          And yes, I do believe that riding a bike should not require the same requirements that driving a car entails. Especially given the benefits we all receive when people choose a healthier, non-polluting and less space-intensive form of transportation.

          • Phillip

            Chris, has a low-cost system been tried by this or any other province?
            The answer of course is NO! But then your question wasn’t evidentiary-based, it was purely rhetorical. What you failed to answer–and of course you don’t want to, “Can Service Ontario deliver a low-cost method of annually licensing bicycles?” Given the fact that no new infrastructure is needed and given their track record in the annual licensing of cars, the answer is clearly yes! And based on the marginal cost of providing such an annual licence, all that needs to be done is to set the annual bicycle licence (road-user fee) higher than that cost.

            And the real benefit to cyclists is that they can feel much better knowing that they too are contributing, even in a very small way, to the cost of the infrastructure that they demand as a matter of right.

          • Chris Ariens

            As a thought exercise, let’s say that you’re right and Service Ontario can issue bicycle licenses at a modest fee that exceeds the administrative costs. Have you run the numbers to see how much that fee would need to be? Would manufacturers now have to set up VIN#s for all bikes sold in the province, and ownership + registration has to be tracked every time someone buys or sells a bicycle? Sounds like utopia.

            What I asked you for data on is what the impact of such a policy would be. Surely, if it’s a good idea, some jurisdiction somewhere has tried it. How many people would actually register their bikes? How much enforcement would we need to ensure registration was being followed? And the biggest pet peeve for motorists – the lineup at the ServiceOntario office, how much longer does that get?

            Someone like me might buy a license to continue my daily commute, especially if there was a benefit in terms of increased safety. But I don’t think the guy who rides his bike a couple of times a month down to the park for exercise would find it worth it. Or the mom who bought a bike intending to cycle with her kids, but it’s still sitting in the garage because she doesn’t feel safe on the roads. There goes casual biking as a fun and enjoyable recreational activity. So riding a bike becomes an even more marginal activity than today, the small amount of revenue collected is eaten up by the administration, citizens feel even more like they are living in a nanny state and the health care system has to stretch even more with the increasing sedentary lifestyle of the people of the province. Those are the impacts I’m most concerned about.

            I find it fascinating that the people who are most supportive of bicycle licensing are those who are generally opposed to big government.

          • Phillip

            I think you have raised some valid concerns in your latest post. In fact,perhaps the same concerns might be raised with automobiles. Let’s not licence them–that should put us on equal footing with bicycles. Absurd? No more so than your post.

          • Hans

            Re: “…less space-intensive form of transportation…” – only in the sense that a bicycle occupies less space than a car.
            The amount of road real estate dedicated to bike lanes for the one or two cyclists that I see as I travel around Burlington is not justifiable, especially the redundant bike lanes; e.g., those along Upper Middle Road.

            Re: “..riding a bike should not require the same requirements that driving a car entails…” – Wrong! Twice I have had a cyclist pass me through an intersection while I was making a legal right turn – the kind of mistake that could have ended in tragedy if I had not anticipated their stupidity.

        • Hans

          Re: “…things are going to change dramatically by the end of the year…” I sure hope that you are right about that Phillip! That change is way overdue.

  • Richard

    It seems that most of the questions being suggested would give a really clear picture of where cycling is at in Burlington in 2017. Not where it could be 15, 20 years from now.

    Licenses for cyclists? Every cyclist I know has a drivers license. Regardless, we know from experience that a license doesn’t make a bad driver better. I suspect both motorists and cyclists are aware of the rules but choose to ignore them. Can’t tell you how many vehicles speed through our neighbourhood or don’t come to a stop at a stop sign!

  • Michael Drake

    I’ll be sure to count all of the cyclists on the Plains Rd corridor tomorrow. I expect to see huge numbers transiting through the area on their way to work or to pick up some groceries or to have their nails done.

    I have a question:

    How many individuals who work at City Hall planning our glorious future will be riding their bike to work tomorrow?

    Cars aren’t going anywhere. Do we have a master plan for them? Shouldn’t the “transportation staff” at the local and provincial levels be doing everything in their power to move traffic as efficiently as possible through this city?

  • Chris Ariens

    The questions are being asked the way they are for very good reason. The city is building a cycling master plan, that aims to provide a blueprint which details what our cycling infrastructure priorities should be, in what order, in what timeframe, and at what cost.

    In our Strategic Plan, approved unanimously by Council, “Complete Streets vision is put in place through a co-ordinated plan, which will include on-road and off-road bike lanes, sidewalks, multi-use paths and trails and a public transit system that are all well-connected throughout the city”.

    The question is not about whether or not those things are desirable. That has been determined. It is about how we go about achieving them.

    Knowing where things stand today is fine, but most of the questions suggested have been asked many times, here in Burlington and in many other places and most decision makers have a good sense of where we are now. As Wayne Gretzky put it, “Skate to where the puck is going, not to where it has been”.

    If a large number of residents are saying that they want to go downtown, but don’t cycle because there’s no place downtown to park their bike, then maybe that cycle garage idea should be explored further. (Note…just an example – I’m not suggesting that this is a good idea). That’s the kind of insights I think decision-makers want to get from the public engagement that’s going into drafting this plan. Where will the public get the most benefit for every dollar invested?

    As for the licensing issue, the Highway Traffic Act is not in the city’s jurisdiction, and overall the case for any benefits to society from the introduction of bike licensing is a very weak one, not to mention the costs of adding bureaucracy to handle it. So it stands to reason that questions along that line are not all that useful to our transportation staff in drafting this plan.

    • Joseph Gaetan

      Chris: The City’s engagement charter on City Feedback,states,The City of Burlington will inform citizens and stakeholders about how their input was considered and adopted or why it was not adopted in City projects, initiatives and policy development. Feedback will usually be provided in a summarized format rather than on an individual basis.
      Is your response being rendered in an official capacity as a member of the Cycling Advisory Committee or are these your personal opinions?

      • Chris Ariens

        Joseph, if it matters at all, I’m sharing my opinion as to why the survey questions are in fact the right questions to be asking of citizens, as opposed to the questions suggested in the above comments.

    • Stephen White

      The Ontario Highway Traffic Act may not be under the control of the City’s jurisdiction but by-law 0553-1990 sure as hell is. It deals with riding more than two abreast on a roads. Not a single charge was filed between 2012 and 2016. So much for enforcement.

      If we can spend $210K on the aborted New Street Road Diet, and cycling surveys, and the Cycling Committee, and the myriad of other initiatives and plans focusing on cycling, then I’m sure we can find a few thousand dollars to design, develop and implement a graduated licensing program for cyclists. It would only apply to cyclists on major roads. After all, the folks at Share the Road, as well as the Cycling Committee, and of course Eleanor McMahon, are purportedly such major proponents of road safety. I’m sure they wouldn’t object to a program designed to ensure that cyclists on major roads: a) have a bike that is mechanically sound and roadworthy; b) know signals and understand the rules of cycling; c) have the requisite skills to ride safely. Or does cycling safety only involve and is dependent upon motorists?

      As for the survey it amounts to a colossal waste of time and effort and is intended to justify a pre-ordained conclusion. Real consultation means engaging not just advocates of a particular cause but ordinary citizens as well. Eva Amos said it best: “What did we learn from the New Street Pilot Project?” Evidently, nothing.

      • Phillip

        Excellent analysis of the situation in Burlington. I do disagree with your final comment. I think most residents, particularly here in South Burlington, learned to be very vigilant about the activities of special-interest lobby groups at City Hall. We learned that our own councillor, Dennison, cares more about his buddies in the Cycling Lobby than he does about his constituents who he is supposed to represent. Lastly, we learned to push back and be politically active to protect the safety and quality of life of local residents against a selfish, tiny special interest group.

        • Chris Ariens

          Funny how people in our community who support more biking, walking or transit are considered to be “special interests” or a “lobby”, while people who support having transportation be the sole domain of the personal automobile are called “citizens” or “residents”.

      • Chris Ariens

        Stephen…I’d vehemently disagree with the assertion that the survey is a waste of time and effort. The level of cynicism you and others are showing with respect to this initiative is just not warranted.

        The team is going all over town, and has 13 drop in sessions taking place across the city over January and February, at all the GO stations and at community centres. Including the Seniors’ Centre which was reported to be very well attended. These consultations are open to anyone – not just “advocates of a particular cause”. They did this precisely in order to avoid focusing on just those who have hardcore opinions one way or another.

        The online survey contains more than just the map detailed on the front page. Questions with respect to what motivates people to cycle in Burlington as well as what prevents them from cycling. A question with respect to cycling categorization also contains a response for those who define themselves as “rare cyclists” or “non-cyclists”. The questions with respect to comfort level on various types of infrastructure will act in support of Eva’s point that there is a preference for trails or separated paths. There are also questions focusing on the vision that people wish to see incorporated in the plan and what should be the top priorities (including education of cyclists and drivers). General comments can be provided in free-format or at specific locations on the Burlington map, so there should be no lack of opportunities for any member of the community interested in contributing.

        As for the safety issues, there are programs in place for all of them, including an offering of Can-Bike training in the works.

      • Hans

        I agree with Mr. White. He “nailed it”.

  • Stephen White

    The level of detail and insight that will be provided through this survey is severely lacking in both depth and content.

    At a very minimum I would have thought the following questions would have been asked:

    – where specifically do you live in the city (i.e. street name, not postal code)?
    – demographic profile (i.e. occupation, status)
    – how often do you cycle?
    – when do you cycle? (i.e. days, months, times of year)
    – why do you cycle (i.e. commute, pleasure, short errands, etc.)
    – what are the things that keep you from cycling more often (i.e. weather, road conditions, etc.)
    – do you cycle alone or with others, and if so, who (i.e. friends, family, cycling club)?
    – what roads do you normally cycle on? (i.e. specific names of streets)
    – on average, what distance do you cycle? (i.e. daily, weekly, monthly)
    – do you think the police should be more vigilant in pursuing cycling infractions?
    – as a rule do you believe most cyclists are aware of and obey the rules of the road (i.e. signalling)?
    – would you support a graduated licensing system that would require cyclists to be licensed prior to riding on major roads (i.e. Appleby, Walkers, New)?
    – do you believe there is adequate education being provided to cyclists regarding safety issues?
    – are you aware of the work provided by the Cycling Committee?
    – suggestions and input on things that would improve cycling in the City (N.B. Open-ended question. No need to lead the respondents).

    Anyone can craft a survey that produces results they want to hear and a preconceived conclusion. It takes a bit of imagination and consultation though to produce a survey that actually yields useful information on which to formulate policies.

  • Penny

    The questions I would like to see included are:

    1. Do you cycle year round as your major mode of transportation. if yes, how many times per week?
    2. Do you cycle to work/school/run errands year round – if so, what is the distance travelled?
    3.Are you prepared to pay an equivalent license fee as motorist do to support your preferred mode of transportation?
    4.Are you prepared to pay for and take a road test?

    The mantra of allowing only 1 to 1.25 parking spots per condo built is that people will be riding bicycles to work, to school etc. If major dollars are to be spent to build these bicycle paths etc then the City needs to ask the hard questions and get the real answers.

    I have said on many occasions to get the right answers you have ask the right questions. Is an online survey public engagement? Perhaps a cycle garage should be included in the next budge?