Bikes to get lanes

City looks at adding downtown designated lanes

Johnson and Brock Streets are among those that could get designated cycling lanes, unlike the shared car and bicycle lanes that are there now.
Johnson and Brock Streets are among those that could get designated cycling lanes, unlike the shared car and bicycle lanes that are there now.
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The City of Kingston will discuss whether new designated cycling lanes should be implemented at a meeting Tuesday, with Queen’s campus at the heart of some of these proposed additions.

At City Council on Oct. 16, a motion to add designated cycling lanes to four Kingston roads was deferred to a Special City Council Meeting set to occur tonight.

Kingston already has designated lanes on streets including Bath Rd., Union St. and Centennial Dr., City engineer Dan Franco said, but creating new ones can pose a challenge.

“We have about 40-50 km worth of designated cycling lanes … and we’re looking forward to expanding our network in the next two years by at least another 40 km,” he said.

The challenge comes, he said, in making the older parts of the city more bike-friendly. Drivers, walkers and cyclists all have to share spaces that also must accommodate room for patios and storefronts.

“[There’s] a lot of competing interest there,” he said. “In the [downtown] core, we are trying to promote [and] educate that we all have to get along and we have to share the road.”

On Johnson and Brock Streets, ‘sharrows’ — painted arrows denoting a lane meant to be shared between cars and cyclists — caused confusion among residents, Franco said.

“We got a lot of feedback that was mixed. Some people want to get rid of the parked cars and [add] more cycling lanes, working closely with the transportation folks to relocate parking,” he said.

The continuation of the Williamsville sharrows was lost on a tie vote at Oct. 16’s City Council meeting.

The proposed new lanes would be added to Union St. between King St. West and Sir John A. Macdonald Blvd., Montreal St. between Rideau and Ordnance Streets, Days Rd. between Front and Castell Roads and Bayridge Dr. between Front Rd. and Coverdale Dr.

The motion also asks for on-street parking to be removed to accommodate designated cycling lanes on stretches of Union, Montreal and Division Streets.

Cycling lanes on Johnson and Brock Streets from Sir John A. Macdonald Blvd. to Division St. have also been proposed through the motion on the condition that on-street parking in that area is removed. Franco said cycling lane-related projects through to 2014 have already been planned for Kingston and approved by the City.

“In 2011, engineers received approval for a four-year capital multi-year plan,” he said.

The projects include a recreational cycling loop in the City’s north end on Montreal St.

He said costs for bike lane additions can vary widely, because they depend on the structure of the existing streets and wasn’t able to offer a price range for the projects.

Because of the costs, reconstruction on older streets is usually planned to coincide with existing construction projects, Franco said.

“You can say that cycling lanes are, on average, the same cost as a new sidewalk,” Franco said.

As someone who has both driven and bicycled in Kingston, student Lianna Grice said she likes the idea of relocating parking on streets like Brock and Johnson to accommodate cycling lanes.

With the current shared lanes, she said, cars “don’t have to move over for you and there isn’t really anywhere for them to go, especially in high traffic.”

She said between the shared space and obstructions like potholes, she’s had a few close calls on her bicycle.

“There’s so many potholes in Kingston that if you’re downtown you really have to be careful about where you’re riding, because you don’t know what you might run into,” Grice, PheKin ’14, said.

“A lot of drivers in Kingston are not happy about cyclists, not willing to give you space on the road to ride your bike.”

Grice said people on bicycles trying to be both cyclist and pedestrian at the same time are also part of the problem. Until infrastructure changes come, she advocates a simple approach to avoiding close calls.

“Being a cyclist and a driver, I think one of the biggest ways people could get along ... would be to just follow the rules,” she said. “It makes things so much easier.”

— With files from Vincent Matak

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