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When is an unpainted paved shoulder a bike lane?

Because we’re data nerds, when we heard the City would be spending $6.8M on cycling infrastructure we got all geeked out with excitement. But when we read the plans, mapped the plans and analyzed the plans, we had some questions. Questions we presented at the February 28th Windsor Bicycling Committee meeting.

We thought it was curious that the City planned to spend $1,429,000 of this cycling infrastructure budget on unmarked paved shoulders. That’s a lot of dinero and so we asked how adding paved shoulders to a city street – without any markings indicating it’s a bike lane – is considered cycling infrastructure. We were advised that they couldn’t paint bike lanes on the new shoulders because “they are for cars to pull over”.  Puzzling.

You may recall that City Administration supported City Council’s rejection of our plea to include bike lanes in Ouellette Avenue’s $5.6M refresh. They advised that Ouellette Avenue, although wide enough to accommodate bike lanes, isn’t in the Bicycle Use Master Plan, so cycling infrastructure was considered but rejected.  It was pointed out to us, numerous times, that the BUMP calls for McDougall to be the downtown cycling corridor. So we asked why McDougall isn’t included in the $6.8M cycling infrastructure spending plan. We were surprised when City Administration advised that McDougall isn’t wide enough and they’d have to remove parking. More puzzling.

We recommended, again, that one of the Windsor Bicycling Committee’s top 3 priorities for cycling infrastructure (and ours!) be included in the $6.8M plan. That is to link up bike lanes east and west of the Ambassador Bridge to connect the Riverfront trail. We didn’t get a response to our recommendation.

This led us to ask – how does the City plan spending on cycling infrastructure? What is the rational for choosing one project over another?  Can we not concentrate on making some connections with existing infrastructure?  Is there a vision that hasn’t been made public (even to the Bicycling Committee)?  We were advised that we can’t expect all these expenditures to only accommodate cyclists. Decisions, we were told, are made with recommendations from ‘others’. Who, we asked? ‘Others,’ we were told. So cycling infrastructure is planned without any consultation with the cycling community because, well, there are others?? Puzzling.

Our massive 2016 survey on cycling, tells us that bike lane connectivity is one of the main complaints of cyclists and wanna-be cyclists – second only to the complete lack of protected bike lanes. Our fractured patchwork infrastructure is keeping thousands of local cyclists from riding. So we believe it makes sense to take a second look at what may be the only large investment in cycling this city may make for many years.  Let’s spend our cycling infrastructure dollars on actual cycling infrastructure.

To learn more about the $6.8M cycling infrastructure spend, please check out our deep dive analysis and let your Councillor know that we need to do better than this. That the cycling community should be consulted when decisions are being made about cycling infrastructure spending.

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