Resident suggest his council member isn't telling the full story on the New Street Road diet.

opinionandcommentBy Jim Barnet

December 6th, 2016



Please take time to read Councillor Jack Dennison addition to the on line petition against the Road Diet on New Street. You will see he continues to view the project through his rose coloured cycling goggles. He neglects to tell you that Denmark, a world leader in cycling, keeps bicycles and vehicles separated by barriers.

This safety requirement was made in a clear and concise fashion to a delegation from Burlington, headed by the mayor.

Mr. Toderian, a consultant hired by the city told an open meeting at the Burlington Performing Arts centre ” The road diet on New Street is a poor design and its one I would not personally use. I would fear for my safety.”

Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison always has an eye open for an economic opportunity - sees a great one for the city: sell the golf course.

Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison uses roller blades and his bicycle.

When will Jack tell about this?

Some other things that don’t get past the rose colour goggles.

A member of the cycling committee has put out a blog showing that sharrows give a cyclist a false sense of safety and should not be used.

Early data indicates that the transit time between Walkers and Guelph line has increased by 50 percent during evening rush hours and is even worse when the roadway approaches design capacity and gridlock starts to take place.

If the road diet was in place from Burloak to the Hospital, transit times on the route would be increased by close to fifteen minutes during rush hours, total capacity would be reduced and grid lock would occur more often.

Due to weather, bikes are only potentially viable five months of the year. In addition how does the hockey player strap his equipment bag on a bike?

In a meeting with Councillor Dennison he admitted that he did not have targets for the results to be judged against to measure success or failure. This is not a management style most people use.


Jack Dennison and his partner Jackie are avid cyclists.

Slowing speeds below 60 KPM increases green house gasses and becomes even worse in gridlock and stop and go situations. How much of an increase is Jack willing to accept when at the same time putting cyclists in a less safe environment?

The highway traffic act gives bicycles the right to use certain roadways. It also states they should stay within three feet of the shoulder and travel in single file. They are to obey all the rules of the road, yet according to Jack no tickets have been issued to cyclists in Burlington. Why is that when we know they ignore most stops signs?

We should encourage cycling. This can be done by licensing bikes that have proper reflectors, bells and lights, front and rear. Riders should be encouraged to wear clothing with reflective strips and if possible to have light coloured clothing.

Maybe some of the beatification money should have spent creating protected bike lanes that are a network rather than Hodgepodge of bits and pieces we have now.getting new - yellow

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38 comments to Resident suggest his council member isn’t telling the full story on the New Street Road diet.

  • Citybiker

    James, stop engaging in this apparent debate. Some people cannot, and will not be reasoned with. One thing that this road diet has taught me is that the gazzette panders to trolls who love their cars. Screw anyone who attempts to make them drive 50kph. And don’t even ask about sharing the road.

    • Tom Muir

      This is likely too late in the conversation, but I would say cut the Gazette panders to trolls trash talk. Any one can write in. You did, and you sound like a troll too.

      James has been trying to say something, so let him.

      And welcome to the real world of the car. Most are on the other side when it comes to the road diet. Speeding and not sharing goes back long before.

      A proposal to road diet Plains Rd west near the Hamilton line had a couple of hundred public opponents show up and it never made it out of staff.

      Frontal attacks – say arterials – on this don’t seem to go without vigorous opposition.

      Try to find some weaker side doors to get in – say collectors and feeders and existing paths, etc.

  • Jim Barnet

    Tom Muir has captured the moment. The tail should not wag the dog.

  • Jim Barnet

    Gareth, I am a civil engineer.

    James, road diets do reduce accidents because they reduce speed at the expense of capacity, increase travel time, increased green house gasses and road rage.

  • Eva Amos

    I guess we could go around and around on this. Again I will repeat I am referring to the road rage these short merge lanes
    are creating. The configuration is the problem. One we didn’t have at this intersection before. I think what we have now is the choice of being hit from the left or right. One very good comment I heard is we are trying to put 5 lbs of potatoes into a 1 lb bag. Are we trying to fix a problem that didn’t exist on New Street. How many accidents occurred on this stretch of road before the lane reductions?

    • James Schofield

      Eva, you asked me how safety would improve, and I gave you the best data I have on that.

      As for the short merge lanes perhaps that is something the city should take another look at. Make the lane right-turn only perhaps?

      Maybe you could have started a petition to reconfigure the merge lanes rather than abandon the entire one-year pilot if this is really your concern.

      As for the potato analogy, you used to have 1 lb of potatoes in a 10 lb bag. Now you have 1 lb of potatoes in a 5 lb bag for 22-23 hours a day, and 4.5 lbs of potatoes in a 5 lb bag 1-2 hours a day.

      • Eva Amos

        The short merge lane really is my concern and I agree if the narrowing of New Street is to be permanent then I am in total agreement that the city take another look at the configuration but this is an idea I have presented countless times in the past where we have exactly the same situation at Brant and Lakeshore. Make the curb lane at Brant and Lakeshore a right turn lane only. This would take the impatient driver using the curb lane as the passing lane, just to cut off the through traffic out of the short merge lane, allow the driver waiting behind the road warrior at Brant to make a right turn going northbound.
        Make it no right turn on red at Lakeshore and Brant. This would leave the curb lane clear to get into the Esso station. Same configuration going eastbound. This has fallen on deaf ears at the city so why would it be any different at Walkers and New. We have created a situation that did not exist before, certainly not adding to the safety of the driver in the through traffic lane and now expecting to use precious police resources to monitor the situation. If safety truly is a main concern I urge the city to reevaluate the configuration.

  • Eva Amos

    James please tell me how life safety will actually be improved when we are hearing over and over again this configuration is creating more road rage with impatient motorists now speeding up in the short merge lane to beat the now single lane of traffic. Please don’t tell me this will improve in time. Just stand on the corner of Lakeshore and Brant Street and witness this with every light change. This reconfiguration has been there for quite a number of years. We are now seeing the same thing at Walkers and New Street. Do we really need more road rage on our busy streets?

    • James Schofield

      Eva, I’ll refer you to the extensive research by the US Federal Highway Administration. Road diets significantly reduce the possibility of rear end and left-turn crashes, with crash reductions ranging from 19 to 47 percent.

      • Tom Muir

        James, this isn’t much help and doesn’t answer Eva’s question(s).

        What is left out in this research seems to be context. You can’t just extrapolate numbers all over as each situation is unique.

        I looked at all of both links, and I saw only one or two of the street pictures that had any cars on the roads.

        That doesn’t happen in our context to any meaningful extent.

        And people are different. Burlington drivers are impatient – I see it all the time – they hate delays.

        And I agree with Eva – don’t just tell her it will improve with time.

        This kind of half-baked piecemeal measure will not get better, but more infuriating once winter sets in.

        This only works when there is a network, a grid, where you can safely ride from meaningful place to meaningful place, and where it is practically relevant for the task at hand.

        I guess it possible to persist in a link here and there over a long period, and maybe something useful will emerge. But the development being forced on us comes with 90%+ cars, and let’s not try to kid anyone what that means. It’s bad now so where does this lead?

        I’m all for biking and have done it in earnest for decades, but it was on me to find my way around to get where I was going. I didn’t need special sections along the busiest of roads. I just did what I needed to do to get to where I wanted to go.

        Sometimes being too zealous about something, which I have been guilty of myself, blinds you to facts and data that don’t confirm your own thinking. And it directs you to information that agrees with you.

        This is called confirmation bias. I see some of this in the present situation where a relative few don’t want to see or recognize what is a very apparent blow-back from thousands of drivers who think this insane, and the extension of it to Maple Avenue just more evidence that there isn’t much open thinking going on by those pushing it.

        In closing, I am not taking sides here, just saying what I think I see from close study.

        • Phillip

          Tom, an excellent analysis of the situation. I wanted to detail two of the points you have made. The key reason that Burlington drivers are so impatient is that they are commuters–this makes them time poor; it is just the reality of living in a bedroom/commuter community. And this carries over into the tasks that they perform within Burlington–time is a valuable commodity and they will use the most time efficient method (the car) to get things done. Point number two–and that involves riding from meaningful place to meaningful place. Given the long distances within Burlington between where we live and where we shop or engage in most family recreational activities, the car will still be the most efficient way to conduct these trips. In my view, cyclists, in the overwhelming majority of cases, engage in their activity for recreation–this doesn’t require for most people the use of a cycling lane on a major artery. In fact, the majority of the comments by cyclists on the petition against the New Street
          “road diet” support this view.

          What we are left with on New Street is an example of extremely poor public policy–we have imposed significant costs on commuters and local residents to benefit a very tiny special interest group. In fact, in the next four months (predicted to be colder and snowier than normal), it would be fair to suggest that these costs will contibue while benefitting virtually no-one.

        • James Schofield

          Tom, you’re really going to dismiss this report based on there being no cars in the diagrams?

          Take a deeper look at the AADT (average annual daily traffic) data. They’ve studied streets as high as 26,378 AADT. New Street between Walker’s and Guelph Line ranges from 14,000 to 16,000 (depending where you measure it). Suburban environments feature prominently in the examples they considered.

          Please don’t tell me that Burlington drivers are somehow different. I’ve lived in many different cities across this continent. I’m unwilling to accept that we’re such a special breed that none of this research applies to us.

          All I have been asking is that we let this pilot run it’s course, and give it a fair shake. Let’s not make decisions based on the disastrous conditions while both Fairview and New were under construction. And let’s look at the wealth of data the city is collecting, and will continue to collect, and consider that heavily when we make a final decision.

          • Tom Muir

            I’m not dismissing anything – I said I wasn’t taking sides. I actually sort of like the idea on a big scale, but not many people ride bikes every day, like they do cars, except for fun.

            I just think that in the broad daylight of the said pictures, there were basically no cars, which I found striking. No bikes in sight either. There were just snapshots of nothing that cannot capture the dynamics of everything.

            If what you are pushing is to be real, that must change or it will never fly. Oh, it may be pushed through as policy despite people reality on the ground, but that’s different than really working.

            Our traffic is already a real mess at key times – the middle of the night is irrelevant – and promises to get worse as modal split for car use is more than 90% and numbers of cars keep growing.

            There are all kinds of constraints to changing this on a significant scale. If people want to ride bikes regularly as a practical matter, they will find a way, like I did. It’s not a big deal to do so.

            Start with side streets, sidewalks, off street trails and bike-ways, short-cuts, and combinations. Stick to the feeders and collectors.

            But no, this effort is going straight for the arterials, where most of the cars are. This is needed? No problems expected?

            If you don’t see that I’m just trying to analyze the obvious issue created by this, not stop it in its tracks, then look again please.

            I didn’t say to stop the pilot, but you seem to tell everyone that you are the one that is right, using information from the US that may or may not be relevant to our context of city structure, traffic flow and commuter needs.

            I didn’t invent all the people that are squawking. I’m not because I’m not there in their experience. I don’t think that you appreciate what you are asking of them.

            Don’t try to tell them they are homogeneous widget residents that have to fit your adopted models. Every place is different.

            Someone here mentioned that most are commuters, are time stressed, cannot ride a bike to work, and are not happy to see a lane gone with no bikes using it to speak of. Common sense.

            They are in the middle of a traffic stream simulated bank cave in and narrowing, where the normal mostly customary laminar flow of cars in the stream has been forced into a newly constrained irregular turbulent flow, with all the instability and chaos that entails. This is just basic traffic dynamics valid everywhere.

            Whatever data you think you have that is relevant is out of context, as I keep trying to get you to consider. And I don’t trust it, as we have no idea what the traffic forcing, or accelerations in those flows, are or were, and that needed to be compensated for to get the results you cite. And how was this done and how long did it take?

            And the information you cite appears to be aggregates and averages of many examples that may blur the key periods and events.

            And I told you about confirmation bias. You said that you are unwilling to accept the views of Burlington residents and want to force fit them into your data sets.

            We’ll see how that works.

          • James Schofield

            Tom, I appreciate your detailed and reasoned thoughts. I am absolutely willing to accept the views of Burlington residents. As I said, all I ask is that we give this a fair shake. If you watched my delegation to committee, you would have heard me speak of this pilot as a chance to deeply engage with the public on a level far greater than holding PowerPoint presentations at city hall. I think we can all agree that expectations have been greatly exceeded on that front.

            I am not a slave to this research. I only brought it up in an attempt to explain how a road diet could possibly be safer. I stand by its relevance to our pilot, but looking forward, I’m much more interested in the local data we’re collecting here.

            The question of going for the arterials is an interesting one, and I’d be happy to discuss that further with you. I do think we need to sort them out sooner or later. The pilot is a chance to try one approach and see how well it flies.

          • Tom Muir

            Well yes, you sure did get the public’s attention and engagement.

            I don’t have to deal with the road diet, so it’s not fair for me to say we should give it a fair shake right here.

            One big problem that looms in everyone’s face right now is that winter is just starting. When freezing winds, cold, and ice and snow hit the roads you won’t be seeing very many bikes out there.

            I know there are a few diehards, and I rode until the snow flew deep, then I just stopped, but the bike lanes will be trace-level empty for months, until early spring.

            Regarding safety, I don’t think anyone out there dealing with it is going to say it’s safer now for cars. It’s likely safer for bikers than before, but I’m not sure the few who chimed into the petition would necessarily agree.

            I think the extra space makes it safer, but impatient drivers and road rage are largely new on New St.

            Regarding the question of arterials that’s a big part of the problem, both perceptual and practical. I don’t have a short answer right now, but I never would ride on one to any extent except to cut across where I had to, but really to get off as soon as I could.

            Some effort could go to designing routes that stay away as much as possible from the arterials, but still get east-west and north-south. They take more time, but are safer I think, with no cost really.

            Anyways, this is too much to bite off here, but it needs to be discussed. Later.

  • James Schofield

    I don’t know where the author got that quote from Brent Toderian. This is what Mr. Toderian said in his presentation at the Performing Arts Centre: “In your New Street pilot, you’re not going to see new riders, because it’s a relatively short stretch and it doesn’t connect much with much. So you shouldn’t measure success based on whether you actually see a cyclist in that bike lane. You won’t see cyclists in that bike line until you have a system that connects a lot of things with a lot of things — a minimum grid, a network. What that pilot will show and will test is that you can add a bike lane without carmaggeddon. That the actual impact on the operation of that street is minimal if anything at all. And by the way, it’ll also show that it’s safer. I guarantee it. There will be fewer accidents and life safety will actually be improved. That’s what’s been seen over and over again. And you’ll see it in your pilot too. So don’t focus on whether you see a cyclist in the bike lane. What it’s proving is that you can put a bike lane like that in and carmaggeddon will not occur, the world will not end, and things will actually get safer.”

    The author also makes reference to a blog. I believe he’s referring to this piece that I wrote, which reflects my personal views and not those of the Cycling Committee.

    The comment about sharrows misses the point. There are no sharrows on New Street, except at the major intersections at Guelph Line and Walker’s Line (a situation that will need to be addressed if we keep these bike lanes after the pilot). The buffered lanes on New Street are significantly safer than sharrows, and would be safer still if there were some physical barriers to protect the lanes.

  • Jim Barnet

    Please read the entire article. Are you suggesting that we reduce the speed limit to 30 kpm and have standard transmission as the table you quote suggests? Where will the lost capacity on New Street go if you reduce the speed to 30 kph? You are right, pollution is not the biggest concern, just one of a long list.

    • Gareth Williams

      Not suggesting that at all Jim. Although 50km/h might be more appropriate for New Street than the current 60. I would be curious if a reduction in speed would have any impact on current congestion on this particular route, however I’m not a traffic engineer (and I assume neither are the other commenters or author) so I won’t hazard a guess. Even automatic cars have brakes and use fuel, which were included in the measures the research I quoted looked at. I’m not sure why you chose to focus solely on the method of transmission… Anyway my point was the claim that fuel usage / pollution goes up as speed is decreased is not always true.

  • Jim Barnet

    Gareth Williams needs to only follow a big truck leaving a stopped position to see the increase in greenhouse gas emissions as it accelerates and changes velocity. It is well known that mpg increases up until about 40 miles per hour, then depending on the vehicle,decreases as speed increases.

    The “early data” came from the city.

    • Gareth Williams

      Research shows there is a reduction in emissions from lowering the speed of traffic…

      “the greater the speed of vehicles in built-up areas, the higher is the incidence of acceleration, deceleration, and braking, all of which increase air pollution. German research indicates that traffic calming reduces idle times by 15 percent, gear changing by 12 percent, brake use by 14 percent, and gasoline use by 12 percent. This slower and calmer style of driving reduces emissions”


      • Phillip

        Let’s look at your comments in the context of the New Street Fiasco. First of all, let’s recognize that “traffic calming”–another BS bureaucratic word, meant to sound impressive, actually means nothing! If we examine, the slowdown on New Street, does it result in less pollution? I would argue that since its creates significantly more idling, including for vehicles now facing the long process of trying to turn onto New Street, that it alone will increase emissions. However, these vehicles which have been “calmed”, once past the congestion are now engaging in greater acceleration to make up for lost time from being stuck in congestion.

        Secondly, let’s look at the speed bumps on Spruce. Do they calm traffic? No.
        Cars slow only for the bump (braking & deceleration) and then accelerate to an even faster speed to make up for the slowdown. Oh and I forgot, we see many more vehicles along these east-west side streets as a result of the New Street Fiasco.

  • Eva Amos

    Garth you say “road diets have nothing to do with the environment”. If there are cars now idling in the gridlock as a direct result of the narrowing of New Street and cars now idling waiting to turn onto New Street from the feeder streets how can this not have a negative effect. The Natural Resources Canada website states that unnecessary idling wastes money and fuel and produces greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. This message is also repeated on Burlington’s page about the anti idling bylaw we have had in the city since 2009.

    • Gareth Williams

      Eva I think you are conflating congestion (an unfortunate short term consequence of a road diet) with the actual goal – creating a safer space for all road users and slowing the speed of traffic. I welcome the debate about whether New Street achieves that goal (perhaps not?) but I find it hard to believe that pollution is the biggest concern of opponents.

      • Eva Amos

        Pollution certainly is not the biggest concern of opponents and I didn’t mean to imply such. What I did take exception to is your statement that “road diets have nothing to do with the environment”. My absolute biggest concern and shared by many is the unsafe driving conditions this configuration has created. It’s the impatient aggressive driver cutting into the now single lane of traffic from the short merge lane. There will be no data on these near misses since that would be impossible to record but rest assured it is happening from my own personal experience and from the many supporters on the online petition which now has over 2000 signatures. Has traffic slowed, absolutely. Is it safer. Absolutely not. More road rage is what it has achieved.

        • Gareth Williams

          Unsafe driving or road rage are issues that need to be addressed by Police enforcement. The logical extension of your argument Eva is that everywhere there is a bottleneck or incidents of unsafe driving we need to add more and more car traffic lanes. Where does it stop?

          • Phillip

            Of course, you must subscribe to the theory that REDUCING car lanes to create such bottlenecks is a good thing? Especially when one considers that we are creating negative impacts on 99.5% of road users to benefit the .5%. Oops–I forgot–this is Burlington where the needs of the very few outweigh the needs of the very many.

          • Eva Amos

            Gareth. I’m not suggesting we need to add more car traffic lanes everywhere there is a bottleneck and find this a rather silly statement. My issue is that we have created a problem where one did not exist before.

  • B. Wayne

    Next election, when draining the swamp on Brant Street Jack has to be at the top of the list.

  • James

    Anyone drive eastbound on Fairview Street recently between Guelph Line and Walkers Line? Did you happen to notice the “bike lane” markings in the middle of the right lane? Any guesses when the dashed line is going to become a solid line, thus restricting vehicle traffic along that section to just 1 lane also? Okay City Hall, we get it, you want to frustrate the living daylights out of us until we leave our cars at home, but winter’s coming so riding a bike won’t be feasible for most people, so what other options are you providing us to get us from point A to point B? Let’s say I agree to leave my car at home, now what? Has the bus system undergone a major overhaul that I’m not aware of? Are we getting a monorail? I’m frustrated just like you wanted me to be, so please, tell me what the next step is because I’m not seeing it.

  • tenni

    Is this an example of fake facts? Where is the evidence to support some of the “facts”? (addition of 15 minutes to travel if there is a bike lane etc.)

    Where is the link to this on line survey?

    What is a “road diet”?

    Is there a larger “master plan” for traffic flow in Burlington or is this “trial” going to revert back to cyclists being thrown in danger of being hit by a car?

    The larger question has to do with traffic and the rights of cyclists versus rights of motorist.

  • Mr Barnet used the traffic delay argument when he was opposed to the race that gets run along Lakeshore Road.

    He also mention “early data” – where is he getting this data? Who provided it and is it valid.

  • Phillip Wooster

    Interestingly the minutes of the cycling committee meeting from October, 2016 contain a request for barriers for Phase II of the road diet on New Street. As predicted by this writer back in August, this “trial” is a sham–the City will make this permanent as suggested by this comment about Phase II–it’s a done deal, folks!!!!

    Obviously, the City is also being asked to spend even more money on New Street beyond the funded reconstruction to install the barriers!!!!

  • Phillip Wooster

    Jack’s response also notes that the ability to make turns onto New Street is safer with the road diet. Who is he trying to fool? He obviously didn’t even bother reading the comments submitted with the online petition.
    Overwhelmingly, every entry from local residents indicated that making turns onto New Street–particularly left-hand turns was more dangerous.

    Of course, despite the fact that this “road diet” (let’s call it what it is, Jack–motor vehicle lane reductions) is in his ward and has directly and NEGATIVELY impacted local residents, Jack has never once solicited an opinion from those same residents. I sure hope they remember this in November, 2018.

  • Hans

    Thank you, Jim Barnet, for a very informative article.

  • This is one hot potato of a topic. It seems to me people are forgetting the ORIGINAL DESIGN OF SUBURBIA was predicated on CARS … Forgetting that modern road infrastructure was originally set up for 4 wheels and not 2 will get us into trouble. Oh wait, we already are!

  • Gareth Williams

    “Slowing speeds below 60 KPM increases green house gasses” Umm, what? That makes no sense whatsoever. There is a direct relationship between velocity and fuel usage.

    Maybe Mr. Barnet would like to see all traffic controls and signals eliminated as well since he is apparently so concerned about the pollution from vehicles having to slow down or sitting waiting at a red light.

    There is a much better solution which you see more commonly in European makes which is auto stop/start technology, or better yet hybrid powertrains which run off battery at low speeds and when stopped. Demand these features when shopping for a car or lobby lawmakers to make them mandatory.

    Oppose road diets all you want but please stop being disingenuous about your reasons, they have nothing to do with the environment.

    • Phillip

      Excellent analysis, Gareth. Of course, the key to solving the pollution problem from motor vehicles is to switch from fossil fuels to electricity or hydrogen but, in my view, we are at least 20 years away from making a significant dent in this area.

      However, in the short run, I think we can agree that to have cars idling in traffic gridlock for more time is not having a positive effect on air quality.