trails and more trails
Bike lanes are a element in the process of reducing local municipal auto trips. However, creating bike lanes is a political step rather than a matter of simply putting lines on a road. Creative designs go a long way to attracting non-auto traffic .... Townline Road is a perfect example. The following presentation to Cambridge Council is an example of trying to change political attitudes. (March 2007).
Presentation to Cambridge Council on September 16, 2002
Your Honour, members of Council and staff......thank you very much for this opportunity to speak in favour of the motion that will provide Cambridge residents with two initial links towards the creation of an on-road city-wide cycle network. You already have my comments from Tuesday, September 10 Therefore, my comments this evening will focus some observations about creating an alternative transportation system based on trails and bike lanes.
The following comments are in part a response to questions and concerns that Council has raised about our previous and current recommendations.
You have often heard me claim that, if you build trails, then they will come. However, there is a corollary to this truism: if you do not build it, then they cannot use it and they will not come but they are still going to cycle.
Building the Cambridge Trails system that residents in the photos have come to accept and to expect as part of their community activities has not always been an easy task. But, I am certain you will agree that the results have been worth the effort. Our trails are more than recreational facilities. And as the photos demonstrate, they now provide non-mechanized transportation routes to school and shopping in some areas of the city. The also promote socialization.
Members of Council have endorsed three major master plan studies (1993, 1996, 1999) that outline the various elements of our visions. But translating these studies into the stonedust, pavement and concrete facilities that we now value has not always been an easy task.
We have struggled with difficulties originating with the natural environment, apprehensive residents, regulating agencies, significant budget reductions and negative critics in general. And in spite of some serious obstacles, a Cambridge trail system has been constructed that few citizens would wish to give up.
Who would have predicted in 1995 that trail counters would come up with the following data for weekly use in July 2002:
Grand Trunk Trail: 800 – 1000 users per week
Mill Run Trail: 1000 – 1500 users per week
Now we have reached a critical stage in the construction of our non-motorized transportation system. And, once again we have to come to grips with the problems involved in taking a commonly accepted community facility and actually building it on our city streets. For example, a tentative bridge design agreement with the Region and MTO occurred only after 12 months of often intense lobbying by City staff and CTAC. And the requested design did not include any innovative or radical features.
So despite some early difficulties, Cambridge has now installed the first elements of a bikeway system. The on-road cycle signs and road markings are a relatively new addition to Cambridge. And as in the case with our trails, we fully expect the on-road cycle facilities to gain acceptance and thus increased use.
BUT, once again as with trails, CTAC is in the position of recommending implementation of a bikeway vision, one piece at a time. The network has few options in terms of realistic routes and possible links. So tonight, we strongly recommend that you approve the recommendations for bike lanes on Industrial Road and Conestoga Blvd. In years to come, these facilities will be taken for granted as part of our community features, but tonight we need to take beginning steps towards the goal. The harsh reality is that any increase in the number of non-auto travel trips depends entirely upon the "level of service" that you provide, whether it be trails or on-road routes.