Disband the Cycling Advisory Committee?

There is a boisterous group of people that use the comments section of the Gazette fairly regularly. There are those that don’t yet understand civil discourse and tend towards comments we don’t publish. There are also those who make a significant contribution – one of those came in yesterday and we want to share it with a wider audience.

opinionandcommentBy Steven White

October 12, 2016



Over and above the dubious value of this entire project (the reconfiguration of the traffic lanes on New Street) is the unmistakable fact that it points to the differential input that various groups and organizations had into this project.

Clearly, the overwhelming majority of ratepayers did not support this initiative and that was made obvious prior to the July vote. Despite this, the Mayor and most of Council went ahead and supported it anyway. The Cycling Committee and the folks from Share the Road wanted it, and their vocal support for this measure ensured its passage. The rest of the City now gets to live with the consequences, including a project that is badly designed, bike lanes that won’t be used six months of the year, and a communication process that is sadly lacking.

Bike lanes - New street

The original traffic lane configuration is on the left, the pilot project is shown on the right.

The Cycling Committee is no longer a consultative or educational forum but rather, an advocacy group for cycling and cyclists. This raises bigger questions. 1) Where is the consultative forum in this City for pedestrians, or motorists, etc.? 2) Why is it that one group or one entity has a disproportionate input into the decision-making process? and 3) Where is the Committee to discuss the broader issue of traffic congestion in Burlington?

Not only does the Cycling Committee have a Councillor attending their meetings (i.e. Jack Dennison), but they also have attendees from City Hall who seem hell bent on promoting bike lanes regardless of the expense or consequences. Read the Minutes of their meetings and it becomes evident that there is information shared with the Committee that the average citizen is not privy to. Fair? Hardly.

As a taxpayer I bitterly resent subsidizing advocacy groups. Advocacy groups should not have exclusive, privileged or special access to decision makers, and clearly in this process they did. Education is one thing, advocacy is completely different. (N.B. Read the July 19th Minutes of the Cycling Committee (page 1) and the Chair is admonishing members not to indulge in advocacy).

As part of the many changes at City Hall it’s time to seriously re-think consultative and advisory committees, and this is one group that should be disbanded post haste.

Editor’s note:  On the several occasions I have driven the stretch of New Street between Guelph Line and Walkers Line – there was very, very little traffic disruption – there was just the one cyclist seen during a rush hour.  What the Gazette is seeing is a lot of comment from people who are unhappy about the pilot project and basically nothing from the city in the way of information.  We must add that when a public meeting was held there were very few people at that meeting who were opposed to the pilot project.

Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

11 comments to Disband the Cycling Advisory Committee?

  • astheworldturns


  • G. Lacie

    Dear as the world turns… “Many of us approach the Mayor and Council daily”…really??

  • Stephen White

    I attended Councillor Paul Sharman’s Ward 5 Town Hall Meeting last night and posed my concerns on the Cycling Committee to representatives from the Transportation Department. I was told that Burlington has an Integrated Transportation Advisory Committee and that this is the forum for those of us who are concerned about the disproportionate and undue influence of the Cycling Committee on policy issues made by Burlington Council.

    Then one gentleman in the audience described the composition of this Integrated Transportation Committee. Turns out there are two Cycling Committee members/advocate on it!

    Then one member of the audience asked: Why does the Cycling Committee get two representatives?

    My question was: So where does traffic congestion and the inordinate delays in travelling throughout the City figure into the debate?

    Great meeting by the way. However, not one person in the 60+ people who attended spoke favourably about the New Street Road diet. And as for sightings of cyclists on New Street, well, it appears they are about as rare as hens’ teeth.

  • astheworldturns

    Dear G. Lacie,
    How naïve…many of us approach the Mayor and Council daily…many of us are very persistent…trust me they are no better than our neighbors…politically speaking…all smoke and mirrors.

  • G. Lacie

    Few Councillors if any, read the Gazette. A direct call or email to the Mayor or your Councillor with your concerns is the best alternative. Follow up persistently. It is better than writing in a forum like this that is ignored by City Hall.

  • Roger

    I had thought being involved as ratepayer promote conversation and change. I only found city staff protecting kingdoms – public meetings that were more dog and pony shows as the decisions had already been made in coordination with special interest groups. I am exhausted and have come to the realization that the city of Burlington regardless of Shape Burlington and the hundreds of thousands of dollars spend on customers service training. Lessons of the pier have not only been forgotten but ignored.

  • astheworldturns

    Dear Editor, have you contacted the Mayor to ask him what he plans to do about this stream of very unhappy tax payers on this issue?

    Editor’s note: The Mayor no longer responds to requests for interviews from the Gazette.

  • tenni


    I am not a cyclist. I admit to not being fully aware of this cyclist issue. What I am made more aware of is the backward thinking that permeates some Burlingtonians’ approach to improvements in this city. There is a sociological shift that is happening in Canada with regards to the use of automobiles. Burlington’s traffic flow continues to degenerate on prime roads such as Fairview.

    I rarely drive on New Street but have recently started to use New Street due to construction on other roads. I see new concrete and asphalt on New Street with little traffic (cyclist, vehicular and pedestrian) in the afternoon. I’m not sure why but I will guess that studies have indicated this project is best for New Street. I personally may use New Street now rather than Fairview. Fairview /Plains Rd will continue to be “the” main East West route for traffic. There seems to be a need for advocacy to improve Burlington’s traffic flow so that over used roads like Fairview/Plains Roads are redirected to other less used roads. If getting more people to bicycle rather than drive so be it. New Street and Harvester Roads are other routes that people should be redirected to use imo. (I may be wrong)

    With climate change increasing the possibility of biking more months than six, this may be a partial solution to traffic congestion.

    Emotional reactions seems to be increasing on both sides of this traffic issue.

  • David Fenton

    Most people work and are to busy after the commute to attend anything other than family, they rely on councillors to do the right thing & the press to keep them honest. These groups take advantage of that.

    • Phillip Wooster

      Jack Dennison has always represented the Cycling Lobby. He never asks local residents about their views. And the New Street Fiasco directly impacts the residents of his ward!!!!

  • phillip wooster

    Editor, you are wrong about the traffic disruption. As a resident of the area, I have experienced significantly more difficulty turning onto New Street, particularly during rush hour. Rush hour is also less congested than I expected but this reflects the fact that the traffic has now moved–primarily to Lakeshore which is now more congested as well. And all this to accommodate 1 cyclist?????

    Editor’s note: I’m not wrong – I just see it differently than you do. My experiences while driving the route we pretty good as a car driver. I’s like to see more cyclists – that 60 a day as the bench mark is a real stretch.