Our Executive Director was a delegate at Tecumseh Council’s special council meeting last night discussing plans for a Multi-Use Trail on the South Side of Riverside Drive from Lesperance to Manning Road. Below is a transcript of our position:
“My name is Lori Newton. I’m the Executive Director of Bike Windsor Essex with well over a decade of experience in cycling advocacy including working with local engineers, planners and municipal staff on numerous active transportation projects, and providing cycling education to residents across the region.
As the former chair of the Share the Road Cycling Coalition of Ontario, I worked with colleagues from across the province, the country and North America to help inform the Ontario Ministry of Transportation’s Book 18, to assist in the development of a cycling education program for the province, and to provide input on countless infrastructure projects.
I have ridden bicycles thousands of kilometres across Canada, the US, Europe and the UK and I’m fairly certain that I’ve experienced every possible type of infrastructure both good and bad. I also drive a car.
I’m grateful for the opportunity tonight to speak in favour of Tecumseh’s plan for a multi-use trail that will provide the long awaited connection from Windsor’s Ganatchio Trail to the Trail at Lakewood Park and on to St Clair Beach, providing opportunities for families to enjoy outdoor recreational activity safely.
This project is much needed and local cyclists – both residents of Tecumseh as well as those from outside the town – are telling us that they enthusiastically support the project.
Rarely is there a perfect road to add cycling facilities to and even rarer that there is a municipal budget that can fund the ‘Cadillac’ level separated facilities we all wish for. For decades, we’ve been building roads that prioritize people driving cars to allow them to get from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible. We can’t not provide safe spaces for vulnerable road users on our streets because people driving cars speed and thereby create dangerous streets for others.
Today, forward thinking communities are realizing that slowing down traffic is better for residents and for local businesses. They understand that roads that facilitate speeding drivers create dangerous streets for pedestrians and cyclists, and yet it isn’t easy to find the funding and the buy in to change how we create more equitable and safer streets for all people. I applaud Tecumseh for recognizing the need to provide opportunities for safe cycling and walking in the community.
As for specifics, we would prefer to see the trail 3m wide if and wherever possible – to accommodate different users and we are pleased that the engineers have responded to this by expanding the width of the trail as able. We are aware that there are numerous trails in the region and across the province that are similarly narrow due to insufficient space and barriers – so this is not unprecedented.
There are a lot of low volume residential driveways along this stretch, however the potential risk for collisions is low – and importantly, we love that there will be cross rides in intersections for the safety of cyclists. We would as well like to see paint on the path where there are driveways to remind car drivers, bicycle riders, and pedestrians to be aware of other users on the path. Education in the form of paint on the path will be very important.
The trail absolutely must be on Riverside Drive – our regions’s waterfront arterial intended as a recreational corridor that is part of the provincial Waterfront Trail – a trail used by thousands of cycling tourists. Some of you may recall the infamous City of Windsor zigzag, a story that hit the national media for its absurd recommendation of a 7km diversion for cyclists. Sending cyclists on long roundabout routes marginalizes folks on bikes and perpetuates prioritizing car drivers.
I was thrilled to hear that this trail could be the beginning of a reimagining of Riverside Drive in Tecumseh – a recommendation we intended to make tonight. We urge the Town to recognize the different types of cyclists and that an experienced commuter cyclist will not and should not use this trail. The commuter cyclist, much like the commuter driver, is looking for the quickest, most direct route. Multi-use trails filled with pedestrians, dogs on long leashes and children darting about are not favoured.
We hope Tecumseh will begin preparing a budget for a sooner than distant future full reconstruction of Riverside Drive that will include buffered or protected cycle lanes on both sides of the road for experienced riders. This would provide facilities for faster cycling while providing the added benefit of road calming to slow down speeding drivers. There is sufficient space on the road to do this and the result would be a huge draw for those outside of the community to come experience and enjoy active transportation in the Town.
In closing, the proposed multi-use trail will be a tremendous facility improving the safety of residents of Tecumseh and encouraging them to get outside and engage in a healthy active lifestyle and we enthusiastically support the plan.”
Have your say on Tecumseh’s Place Speak site HERE.