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Opinions at open house split on proposed dedicated bike lane in Charlottetown

David McLellan, division manager of ADL in Charlottetown, is adamantly opposed to a dedicated bike lane on Fitzroy Street. McLellan, pictured here talking to Ramona Doyle, Charlottetown’s sustainability officer, said the ADL plant has more than 2,000 tractor-trailers making deliveries each year at the plant on Fitzroy Street and many of the trucks have to back in, making it a hazard for cyclists.
David McLellan, division manager of ADL in Charlottetown, is adamantly opposed to a dedicated bike lane on Fitzroy Street. McLellan, pictured here talking to Ramona Doyle, Charlottetown’s sustainability officer, said the ADL plant has more than 2,000 tractor-trailers making deliveries each year at the plant on Fitzroy Street and many of the trucks have to back in, making it a hazard for cyclists. - Dave Stewart

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - The division manager of ADL in Charlottetown says the city needs to put the brakes on a proposed bike lane on Fitzroy Street.

David McLellan attended an open house Thursday night where the city teamed up with design engineers CBCL Ltd. and Upland Planning and Design Studio in Dartmouth, N.S., to display conceptual drawings and options available in terms of turning one lane of the one-way Fitzroy Street into a dedicated bike lane, with traffic in the other lane.

“What I would suggest for the people looking to do this is to perhaps go for a ride in a tractor-trailer and see how it is,’’ McLellan told The Guardian. “It’s pretty challenging for the drivers.’’

ADL’s plant is located at the corner of Fitzroy and Weymouth streets. McLellan said to turn one side of Fitzroy into a bike lane would put cyclists in peril.

“We have over 2,000 heavy trucks that come to our facility every year and they back in off Fitzroy. You have to back in on your blindside. We’re enticing cyclists to come into what I would consider a hazard for the cyclists.’’

Temporary barriers would be put up along the centre of the street to separate cyclists from motorists.

“The street is congested as it is,’’ McLellan said. “To put up more barriers would create more distractions for drivers and it's just sort of a dangerous situation for the cyclists.’’

One woman who lives on Fitzroy Street said the loss of room and parking spots would be asking for trouble.

“I just think it’s dangerous,’’ said the woman, who wouldn’t give her name. “I like to back in my driveway because it’s not safe backing out of it. There’s no room for parking as it is now.’’

"If I’m in a bike lane and I’m crossing over and a (car is turning) am I going to remember to turn and check my shoulder to make sure nobody is coming behind me?’’
-Beth Cullen

Beth Cullen, another Fitzroy Street resident, said she is a frequent cyclist and feels safer using Fitzroy now than she would if there were a dedicated lane for bikes.

It’s estimated the project would cost $1 million, mostly because two of the intersections along the path — Fitzroy and Queen, and Fitzroy and University — would need signal upgrades.

“As a biker, I’m willing to accept responsibility at the intersections to proceed when it’s safe to proceed,’’ Cullen said. “There’s that sense of false security. Right now . . . I get to an intersection (and) I’m careful before I proceed. If I’m in a bike lane and I’m crossing over and a (car is turning) am I going to remember to turn and check my shoulder to make sure nobody is coming behind me?’’

Some in favour

There were people who spoke out in favour of a bike lane.

Kate Fraser, whose young family lives on Fitzroy, would like to see it happen.

“We have little kids that we bike with, and so we would use it,’’ Fraser said. “We go to Victoria Park quite often. It would make it an awfully lot easier to get there with the kids, for sure.’’

Peter Copping, who just moved to Charlottetown and arrived at the open house Thursday on a bicycle with studded tires, thinks the Island needs more dedicated bike lanes.

“People want to go to Victoria Park, and the concept of linking the Confederation Trail and Victoria Park is wonderful,’’ Copping said. “We need to move to a more sustainable transportation system.’’

Coun. Terry MacLeod, chairman of the environment and sustainability committee, said it’s not a done deal by any stretch, adding that there will be a public meeting on the proposed idea in late February.

Twitter.com/DveStewart

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