The City of Kingston is set to begin preliminary work on the construction of bike lanes on Princess St. — an initiative many cyclists are gearing up for.
The motion to approve a 1.7 km stretch of Princess St., between Bath Rd. and Division St., for new bike lanes was passed at city council with ten votes for and three against.
The new lanes will be 1.5 metres in width and feature a 0.5 metre painted buffer between designated motor vehicle lanes, according to the preliminary design.
Further detailed design work has yet to be completed; however, the City will hold a public meeting on Sept. 25 to garner public input on the project, which is set to begin construction in 2014.
The initial proposal for designated bike lanes on Princess St. was put forward in the Williamsville Main Street Study — a report geared to revitalize the area between Bath Rd. and Division St. — two years ago.
Cycle lanes were added in effort to promote healthy, active and progressive lifestyle choices, according to the report.
Despite this, the plan comes at a cost. Around 65 on-street parking spaces will be removed to make way for the lane. There also will be less room for the so-called “urban forest” — a stretch of trees set to be planted on the sidewalk.
Councillor Sandy Berg, who opposed the motion at council, said the lanes will also unnecessarily restrict Princess St. businesses from potentially constructing sidewalk patios, referring to it as a “lack of potential business development.” She said an increase in bikers will compete for space with the recently unveiled Kingston Transit express bus, which travels the same route.
“Urban trees are [also] an incredible municipal asset that needs to be weighed and evaluated in the same way that we evaluate other assets that people ordinary and regularly assign value to,” she said.
“They have value in regards to their impacts on climate change with respect to storm water management not exclusively, the cooling and shading effects that come with trees is certainly one very important factor but the storm water management is paramount.”
But for regular cyclists, the plan is a much-needed break from the constant danger of cycling on Princess St., a busy roadway “Just a couple of years ago [it was] found that Queen’s students who would typically be the people who would cycle the most — young, fit, people — weren’t cycling as much as expected because they were afraid of safety,” Anne MacPhail, chair of Kingston Coalition for Active Transportation, said.
MacPhail, who also works as a public health nurse for Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington Public Health, and sat on the working group for the lanes for the City of Kingston, added that the lanes will revitalize the surrounding area, largely populated by students, that is predominantly seen as run-down.
Sam Gower, ConEd ’14, expressed a similar sentiment.
“I have been down Princess all the time, it’s okay to get down there but you never know if somebody is going to turn or whatever. It’s always so congested that you can just zip down the side but [without] a bike lane, you don’t know you’re safe,” he said
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