Bike lanes coming to London Road!

The Town of Newmarket’s Active Transportation Implementation Plan calls for the installation in 2020 of bike lanes on London Rd, as well as sections of Alexander Rd and Bonshaw Ave. Before doing this, the Town has to pass a bylaw prohibiting parking and regulating traffic for this purpose. When a report on this item came up at Council recently, several London Rd residents made deputations opposing the lanes on the basis that they would restrict on-street parking. Cycle Newmarket’s Stephen Harper also made a deputation, which we are sharing below. Thanks to his efforts, and to Council and Town staff’s recommendations, the London Rd bike lanes will go ahead as planned later this year, providing a vital east-west link in Newmarket’s on-street cycling network.

Here is the script of the deputation:

Deputation to Newmarket Council June 29, 2020 1:00 p.m.

Good afternoon Mr. Mayor, Councillors, and members of staff, on behalf of Cycle Newmarket I am Stephen Harper and I thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today on a matter that is very important to us.

Bike Lanes on London Rd.

  1. Why do towns and cities need bike lanes?

According to the CAA there are 7500 serious injuries and 74 deaths of cyclists in Canada each year.  64% of these are on urban roads where traffic speeds are under 70 km/h.   A transportation study in Newmarket found that average speeds were reduced by 4.7 km/h on roads with bike lanes and bollards.    So, our roads are safer for everybody when bike lanes are installed on them.    44% of Canadians say they would cycle more if they felt safer on the roads.   So, we need bike lanes to protect these vulnerable road users and encourage people to cycle in town, whenever possible, instead of always taking a car.

  • Cycling in Newmarket makes sense as a viable transportation option for the following reasons:
  • It is environmentally friendly.
  • Its active nature promotes health and well-being.
  • In a 2016 study done by the GTHA, researchers found that of the 3.14 million trips taken from home 33% are less than 5 km in length, and are classified as ‘cyclable’.
  • Bicycles are vehicles too (see HTA) and are therefore equally as deserving of tax-funded road space as are cars.
  • Cycling lessens road congestion and frequent and costly road reconstruction – (every bicycle being ridden is one less car and far less wear and tear, on the roads).
  • Why do we need bike lanes on London Rd?

Since there are no bike lanes on Davis Dr, London Rd is the ONLY East/West transportation corridor connecting the massive Bonshaw  Ave. neighbourhood and the busy Yonge St Rapidway with Main St N, providing access to shopping and services, the Tom Taylor/Nokiidaa Trail systems and the GO station on Davis Dr.

The active Transportation Implementation Plan (ATIP) mandates that a network of interconnected bike lanes be installed on streets that are being rehabilitated. London Road has been part of that published plan. Reconstructing London Road with the installation of bike lanes should not be a surprise to anyone.

  • Are bicycles popular as a transportation option?

As stated in Friday’s Newmarket Today report by Kim Champion. According to the town’s engineering services director, Rachel Prudhomme, there was a 344 per cent increase from April 2018 to April 2020 in the use of bicycle lanes on Srigley Street. Clearly the  prophetic phrase from W.P. Kinsella’s Shoeless Joe is true: “If you build it, they will come.”

The total sales of bicycles sold in Newmarket in 2019 and 2020 from Toys R Us, Walmart, Canadian Tire and Sportchek was 11,490. They project even higher sales this year and next. Tom Zielinski of Bikesports states that his annual sales of typically 1400 bikes are up over 25% since last year at this time. Clearly there is a ‘tidal wave’ of bicycles coming at us. We must prepare for this by making our roads safer for them.

  •  The arguments against installing bike lanes: The desire for on-street parking.                                      

We dispute the claim that London Road residents require on-street parking in front of their properties. Our research determined that on London Rd every house has a 2-car garage and space for 4 vehicles in their driveway from the garage door to the sidewalk. Between the sidewalk and the curb one more vehicle could also fit. Therefore, optimally, each London Road house can accommodate 7 vehicles. We respectfully submit that with cooperative, driveway-sharing among neighbours and the addition of the alternate off-London Road parking areas there is enough residential parking for even the largest of family celebrations.

Thank you for this opportunity to speak to you today. To conclude, bike lanes on London Road will benefit the Town of Newmarket.

Ride on!

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