The city’s Active Transportation co-ordinator Adam Krupper wants people to know that riding bicycles on the sidewalk isn’t a safer option.
Thunder Bay will be getting a couple new bike lanes this summer located mostly in Current River. The bike lanes will be placed on Shuniah Street, Hudson Avenue, Arundel Street and Huron Avenue and a bike lane in the south core on Vickers Street. The lanes in Current River will connect to existing trails creating a route about five and a half kilometres long.
But while the city is moving forward with placing new bikes around the city, Krupper said there’s still some myths he wants to dispel.
When bicycles are on the road, they are considered a vehicle just like a car and they have to obey the same traffic laws. Bikes are also not allowed on sidewalks and must be rode on the road.
Krupper said they have looked at accident reports since 2008 and found that most of those incidents took place on sidewalks.
“We really need to clear up that myth that riding on sidewalks is safer,” Krupper said. “The other myth that I think has been propagated is that bike lanes are less safe than riding on the sidewalk or riding on the road in general.
“What we’ve found is in terms of collisions on roads that have bike lanes there have been two and both times the cyclist was riding properly. The driver didn’t stop properly at the stop sign.”
Another major concern for some residents is the issue around parking.
For the past three weeks, Krupper and other city workers have gone out to check parking in the area. They counted all the vehicles on the roads during different times of the day.
He said if they designate parking on one side of the street then there shouldn’t be a problem.
“There’s a large chunk of Arundel that’s being construction so when that’s reconstructed we`ll have the painting being done,” Krupper said. “I don’t think there will be any widening but what we’re going to do is better utilize the pavement width so we’re going to put in a multi-use trail and two bike lanes and two travel lanes.”
Current River Coun. Andrew Foulds will host a ward meeting to discuss the bike lanes. Krupper said the two goals they want to accomplish are to inform and get feedback from residents. Most of the feedback they have received already has been split down the middle with 50 per cent negative and positive.
While most of the parking concerns have come from Shuniah Street, he said most other neighbourhoods haven’t voiced any concerns.
“They are just worried if a bike lane will change my ability to get in and out of my driveway and will it make the road less safe,” he said.
“I think for those people who are against the bike lanes they believe it’s scary, it’s hard to deal with and there’s a lot of changes. People see a road and it’s no longer familiar to them. There are these lanes, they’re not sure how to utilize them, sometimes there’s a biking lane and a parking lane so they aren’t sure how to drive in that.
“I think generally people want to drive with respect but it’s hard to do so when you’re not sure what’s happening.”
Krupper said they have been looking at what have been the causes of accidents in the city since 2008 and they found that most accidents happen on sidewalks.
Foulds said he was excited to learn that bike lanes were going to be put in place in those areas.
“We’re starting to see the pieces come together for connectivity in the city,” Foulds said.
“I think you see more kids biking to schools and I think you’re seeing more people with the price of gas opting for other options. I think you are going to see an increase in biking.”
While not everyone has accepted bike lanes, he said he hoped that with time they will.
The ward meeting will be held on Wednesday at the North End Community Centre at 7 p.m.