On Livability: The Transportation Factor

Poorly planned or under used? Meghan McCabe reports on the topical issues of bike Lanesin St. John's, and the Old Topsail Road Roundabout.

 

Wherever you live, getting from point A to point B is a big deal – and one of the key factors in determining how livable a place is. Here in St. John’s, managing traffic flow and mobility options have been pretty challenging as the city grows.

From snow clearing complaints all winter, city council and citizens have turned their attention to bike lanes, and a lone roundabout installed on Old Topsail Rd. back in 2012.

Council voted to review the cycling plan after some councillors raised concerns that the bike lanes in place since 2011 are not being used, and should be removed. They’re part of phase one of the plan.

“You got these lanes in, people can’t park – their parking is gone on one side,” said Coun. Bruce Tilley.

Coun. Dave Lane said getting rid of bike lanes may not be the answer to the problems at hand. “So as we look at that, let’s take a good review of the plan and make sure that we are not abandoning cycling,” he said.

The whole project is estimated to cost $7 million, $3 million of which is coming from the provincial and federal governments. It’s unclear what the cost to remove lanes would be.

Mayor Dennis O’Keefe said the city supports bike lanes, they just want to make sure they’re getting it right. Another part of phase one includes installing bike racks on Metrobuses – something you’ll see in most other Canadian cities. A tender for the bike racks is set to go out this week.

Coun. Art Puddister, head of the Traffic Committee, said the problem with that traffic-calming roundabout on Old Topsail Rd. is people don’t know how to use it – making it more dangerous than it’s worth. It’s also being reviewed.

Puddister said the roundabout cost up to $50,000 to install and would cost about $10,000 to take out.

Paradise Mayor Dan Bobbett said his town is replacing traffic lights at Karwood Drive and Kenmount Road with a roundabout – based on a recommendation from an engineering firm they hired to do a full traffic review. He says roundabouts are appealing because they lead to less collisions, better traffic flow, and less idling time, which is better for the environment.

The roundabout and the issue of cycling in St. John’s have a common denominator: councillors say people just don’t really know what to do with them.

While the roundabout and cycling plan are under review, many citizens of St. John’s say the decision-making process to implement these things in the first place could do with review as well, in an effort to prevent wasted spending.

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