Mayor's point of view on the New Street Road Diet.

News 100 redBy Staff

August 22, 2016



Mayor Rick Golding uses a number of media to reach the citizens he governs.  In an article he posted to his blog on the city’s web site he had the following to say on the decision made to put parts of New street on a Road Diet.

A road diet is when parts of a road used for vehicles is re-purposed and used for bicycle lanes

This summer, Burlington City Council supported a staff recommendation for a one-year pilot for bicycle lanes on New Street between Walker’s Line and Guelph Line.

As you are likely aware, the majority of council (6-1) supported this decision. It was our team of transportation experts that recommended what is being called a ‘road diet’. Simply put, that means taking New Street from four lanes to three lanes (two travel lanes and a centre left turn lane), with bike lanes separated by painted buffered lines on each side.

There are a few key things to note as we measure data and carefully listen to residents during the bicycle lane pilot project on the two-kilometre stretch of New Street:

Bike lanes - New street

The current New Street lane configuration is on th left with the “road diet” on the right.

This is a pilot project scheduled to last one year. Our staff will be tracking detailed data and we invite feedback from everyone using that stretch of the road.

The pilot is a litmus test to see if the painted lanes result in a positive experience for people who want to ride their bicycles, while causing a minimal impact for drivers who also need to get where they are going in a timely manner.

The pilot aligns with strategic planning – Transportation, health and environment

A key direction of our new Strategic Plan, which identifies priorities for the next 25 years, is a City That Moves. We want to increase the percentage of people using alternative transportation including cycling on a regular basis and not just for recreational purposes. The car has a 50 to 60-year head start when it comes to our city. A large part of Burlington was built when land and gas were plentiful and cheap. We are now trying to retrofit our city with more options than driving. Another key direction of our new Strategic Plan is A Healthy and Greener City.

Goldring - Christmas picture

Mayor Rick Goldring

Halton Region recently released an Active Transportation Health report, which was discussed at Halton Region’s health and social services committee meeting on Feb. 8, 2016. The report states 39 per cent of Halton residents, aged 12 and older, were inactive during their leisure time in 2013/2014. The report recommends using active transportation, including cycling, to improve health. (Read more here: Furthermore, 40 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions produced in Burlington is from automobiles. There are significant opportunities for a greener, healthier city with a wider variety of transportation opportunities if we start investing now.

The timing is appropriate for this pilot project

New Street bike lanes - long pic

The city held a public information meeting on the project – it was not hugely attended – almost as many staff on hand as here were taxpayers. The decision to proceed with the project was approved by city Council on a 6-1 vote. Councillor Sharman voted against the idea. Does he have the best political antenna?

This is an ideal time for the pilot to be done as this section of road is scheduled for resurfacing in 2017. This means there will be no cost to revert the lanes if the pilot is determined to be unsuccessful by staff and ultimately, council, or keep the new lane configuration when the road is resurfaced.

Meanwhile, city staff has assured me New Street west of Guelph Line will be reopen to the public in mid-August before the pilot starts east of Guelph Line. There will still be ongoing works on the boulevard (sod, driveways) but this will be limited to minor lane closures. All work will be done on this section prior to Labour Day weekend.

We will be watching the pilot closely

I live by New Street and as such, take it every day, at different times. I will experience first-hand the traffic delays, if indeed there are any.

The key measurement for me will be the impact on the automobile driver. If there are significant traffic issues as a result of this new configuration, we can simply repaint the road. This one-year test allows us to see if New Street is the right place for bike lanes.

Staff will be collecting data on travel times and residents are invited to share their feedback at any time to My office will share this information with council and staff.

The pilot is a more direct route offering more destinations than the bike path

The multi-purpose pathway from Burloak Drive to Martha Street is good for recreational cycling. However, it is a busy mixed use pathway that includes not only cyclists but walkers, skateboarders, walkers with dogs and young children. A friend of mine broke his wrist after a young child darted in front of him causing him to slam on the brakes and fall. This means it is not ideal for people cycling along the pathway for transportation, especially when travelling at higher speeds.

The pathway is also not useable when it is dark as the average light from a bicycle is not bright enough and does not shine far enough to create a safe ride. The pathway is not lit at night. There are also numerous crossings where vehicles have the right-of-way. Furthermore, the pathway does not provide meaningful connections to the many amenities right along New Street.

The Mayor does indeed use New Street regularly. It will be interesting to see if he chooses to take the bus and experience whatever delays there might be.

The Gazette recently wrote a piece on the debate that was taking place and suggested that the public needed to give the city staff the time they needed to complete the pilot. That article brought in more than 35 responses several of which added valuable information to the debate.

This is an issue that has aroused the public, one reader advised us earlier today that “I noticed yesterday that someone had written WTF across the signs on New St promoting the road diet. I went back this morning to take a photo for you, but the signs have been removed. Work is underway.”

And so is the debate.

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12 comments to Mayor’s point of view on the New Street Road Diet.

  • Steve

    Oops, tale=tail

  • Citybiker

    Traffic on new street is so bad because EVERYONE drives a car. Maybe if a few decide to ride a bike, their big smiles and healthy bodies will show others how easy it is to ride. Commute even. Yes take your bike on bus on rainy days.
    Want to drive? Take the QEW parking lot and complain about our provincial govt!
    Haters gonna hate.

    • Steve

      The QEW wouldn’t be a parking lot if the silent majority would pay enough attention, and vote out the social engineers, and elect people who would widen it to a sufficient size. It’s time now for the tale to stop waging the dog. Problem is, fanaticism is forever busy.

  • Sheila Gore

    Why do we need bike lanes on New Street disrupting vehicular traffic when there is an bike path just north of New Street all the way from Burloak to downtown already in place, even has self activated traffic lights at Appelby Line and Walkers Line. Crazy waste of money and major disruption to east west traffic flow.

  • doug

    Just drove along New with the new markings, obviously no one knows or cares about the highway traffic act (HTA) or potential litigation

    – most bus stops are at intersections, due to HTA passing at an intersection is illegal, also solid white line prevents passing at intersection, therefor we must sit behind bus as it crawls along New, from one end to the other.

    – stopped bus must sit in live lane, since bike lane are divided by solid white lines, the HTA prohibits driving over these white lines, unless they are a broken line.

    – when persons getting on/off a City bus must cross these seperated bike lanes, these people are technically J walking, when they are hit by a bicycle, who will be liable. Many of these bus riders are seniors with limited sight and mobility and are left exposed. No one at City Hall seems to care about them.

    – why is double solid line down the center of the turn lane ??

    Unfortunately road rage is immenent and probably going to involve a City bus, garbage truck, City works truck or bike rider.

    As noted in another post, we need a “diet” from these present coucillors and mayor come next election.

  • Mitch Wilson

    Another thoughtless action by our City Planners. No doubt that this will increase congestion on New Street, and the congestion will cause more environmental impact with the change.
    This is not a solution for health, trying to get folks to be healthy is almost a cultural shift. I have yet to see a person on a bile on New Street. May be, just may be, they might decide to ride the bikes in winter.

  • James

    I’m sure the 60 cyclists that sometimes use New Street will be thrilled as they whiz by the thousands of us car drivers that will be stuck in traffic from now on. Good job, way to think big. You may have just secured 60 votes come time for the next election, but methinks you could have trouble with the thousands of us that question the logic behind this decision. Time for a Mayor and Council diet if this is the best they can do. Seriously, where’s the logic, and why is my tax money being spent on something so idiotic? Is reality something they even bother considering before making bone-headed decisions like this? Why are they pandering to a special interest group that represents a mere fraction of a percentage of the overall population? I’ll stop now and spare everyone my long-winded rambling, but this just does not make any sense to me whatsoever.

  • Doug

    What is needed is real hard numbers of cars, bikes that use the road and when for the total year pilot, not one summer weekend exstapolated into yearly usage. Every time I see these usage reports it has 100’s of bikes using city streets daily for 12 months a year, ya don’t see many riders in cold weather gear, but then again they think we are stupid and believe these numbers.

    Also isn’t it funny how people that promote this traffic remodeling, drive home from City Hall on their 4 lane Walker/Appleby/Guelph/Maple and leave us who live down town to suffer their actions.

    • Phillip Wooster

      What is also needed is WHERE the counts are being conducted. Although the Mayor did not respond to this question, I strongly suspect that his May count of cycle use on New Street was conducted very near to where the Centennial Path crosses New Street thus significantly upping the count. Of course, were these cyclists using New Street or merely crossing it?

    • Phillip Wooster

      Another significant problem has occurred as a result of the funnelling of all rush hour traffic on New Street into a single lane. The cars are now so thick during rush hour that making a left-hand turn onto New Street is almost impossible. Tonight at 4:30, I gave up trying to turn left onto New at Pine Cove; after a 5 minute wait with no end in sight, I gave up, turned around and had to retreat to Walkers and New. Not a cyclist in sight! I wonder if the City will be measuring these delays at rush hour???

  • Steve

    I don’t believe a word he says. I will retract that if at the end of the year they make their decision by asking the everyday automobile users of New St if they want their 4 lanes back, and if he’ll honor the wishes of the majority. But I suspect social engineering is more important than the wishes of the majority.

    • Phillip Wooster

      @Steve. I have to concur; I don’t believe a word he says. This article is exactly the SAME EMAIL he sent me on August 11. I noted several criticisms (below)–he did not respond!
      1. Burlington has been, is and likely always will be a commuter town where the large majority of breadwinners earn their living outside of Burlington. Public transportation will make a difference to commuter travel but bicycles will NOT.
      Cycling is not a transportation issue–it is a hobbyist issue and the Mayor is willing to pander to the members of the Cycling Committee. Note–the Mayor’s canned response ignores public transportation.
      2. Bicycles will have ZERO IMPACT on the environment; in fact, the congestion created by these lanes will likely worsen the environment in South Burlington.
      Electic/ hydrogen powered vehicles or public transit may have a significant impact.
      3. The Mayor’s data on the impact of these bike lanes is not to be trusted. Data on bicycle use on New Street released for 2 day in May was carefully “cherry-picked”. I suspect the 2017 report has already been written.
      4. Nowhere in his letter does the mayor mention the impact of these bike lanes on the diversion of rush hour traffic onto residential streets (this one will be ignored), particularly Spruce which also passes a large public school, Tuck.
      5. The mayor can start using plain language. Forget the bureaucratic, antiseptic term, “road diet”–intentionly to obscure the reality–A REDUCTION IN LANES AVAILABLE FOR MOTOR VEHICLE TRAFFIC.
      6. Nowhere does the mayor mention the City’s funding/sponsorship of a special interest lobby group–the Cycling Committee whose agenda in support of 1% of road users runs contrary to the wants & needs of the other 99% of hardworking taxpayers.
      7. Most telling is the mayor’s slip about “travelling at higher speeds”; he really is pandering to the drivers of the cycling agenda–the hobbyist Lycra Road Warriors.
      8. His friend broke his arm because he was riding too fast with children around; in law, this is called negligence.

      Clearly, the mayor is an empty suit that needs to be replaced in the next election.