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Michigan Avenue could be next street in line for cycling lanes

Published on

Troy Shantz

Now that Sarnians have adjusted to the bike lanes on Colborne Road, City Hall is looking at extending them to Michigan Avenue.

Public input will be sought on a proposal to add cycling lanes on Michigan between Colborne Road and Christina Street, a move that would connect the new north-south route on Colborne to Canatara Park’s trail system and Point Edward’s waterfront trails.

“People who are riding bikes are for it. They see (bike lanes) as a benefit, being able to join parts of the city that weren’t there before,” said Scott McPhee, who has owned The Bicycle Shop for 25 years.

But if Sarnia’s push for increased road sharing is to work, both sides —cyclists and motorists —need to understand the rules of the road regardless of the lines painted on it, he added.

The new proposal would reduce Michigan’s current four lanes of traffic to three lanes, and comes as Lambton County prepares to reconstruct that stretch this year.

Michigan is an east-west arterial road but not wide enough to meet today’s standard for four lanes. Keeping them all would require widening the road and relocating hydro poles at an additional cost of $250,000, city staff says.

Three lanes of traffic — in addition to permitting bike lanes —would improve vehicle flow, reduce speeding and accidents, and simplify crossing for pedestrians, according to a staff report.

Before presenting the final plan to council, however, City Hall will gather public feedback through a survey, a Jan. 29 public meeting, and letters sent to impacted neighbours.

Adding bike lanes between Colborne and Christina would cost about $150,000, with 80% of it potentially covered through a provincial grant. The other $30,000 would come from existing municipal budgets.

The report acknowledges eliminating on-street parking for Michigan Avenue residents could prove controversial.

The loss of parking was hotly contentious both during last year’s successful Colborne Road reconfiguration and an earlier proposal for bike lanes on Cathcart Boulevard that failed.

David Jackson, Sarnia’s manager of development and transportation, said the feedback on Colborne from residents and police has been positive. Drivers are going slower and report improved visibility, he said.

“There’s many people in the community who would like to ride a bike, but they’re nervous. People are now using the route who wouldn’t have if there wasn’t cycling infrastructure.”

The proposal for Michigan Avenue could involve one traffic lane in each direction with a centre turn lane. Another option would be on-street parking with no centre turn lane, Jackson said.

The “drop-in” public meeting on Jan. 29 is at King George School, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Brock and Vidal streets are also being considered for bike lanes, as well as an extension of the Howard Watson Nature Trail to Lambton College, Jackson said.

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