FOR THE GAZETTE
A cycling plan is in front of Prince Edward County council with a vision for paved shoulders, multi-use paths and bike lanes to create a connected, safe cycling and walking system throughout the County.
Shawn Smith, senior project manager of the Toronto-based consultancy firm WSP, presented the first Cycling Master Plan (CMP) at Tuesday’s virtual regular council meeting.
The CMP has a cost of just under $20 million, at a total price of $19,762,200 – approximately half in County jurisdiction and half in Ministry of Transportation jurisdiction.
“It is a flexible policy document that serves as a blueprint to achieve the County’s cycling goals,” Smith said. “It identifies actionable and realistic tools and recommendations.”
In his overview, Smith explained a master plan is a living document that aligns with policies and other planning initiatives. He said council could use it as a guide to help inform future decision making.
Smith said the CMP forms part of the Transportation Master Plan which is still under development. Engagement for both the cycling and transportation master plans took place in tandem to maximize the impact and awareness of the related plans for stakeholders and the public.
Top priorities of the plan are to enhance the cycling and pedestrian realm; develop and maintain an interconnected, efficient and safe transportation network; minimize environmental and social impacts, and to provide a multimodal transportation network with connections to key destinations.
Some of the key themes outlined in the public feedback include concerns with ATV access to the Millenium Trail; bike safety to and from Sandbanks where there is high traffic volume; consideration of e-bikes and other micro mobility devices for future planning, and considering creating a task force or committee to oversee active transportation and cycling.
In response to six key themes that came out of public consultation, Smith explained how the concerns would be addressed within the cycling plan.
The cycling plan features 17 signature infrastructure projects that provide a wide range of cycling opportunities while respecting the resource constraints faced by the County. These short-term plans, he said, could take up to 10 years to complete and long-term initiatives would take 10 or more years.
“There is a huge, pent up demand for cycling here, but people do not feel safe on County Road 12 in terms of cycling,” Smith said.
The first signature infrastructure project would address this concern, as it is proposed to connect the Millenium Trail from Bloomfield to Sandbanks. The project has four parts including a multi-use path on Stanley Street from Bloomfield Main Street to the Millenium Trail; paved shoulders on County Road 12 from the trail to Kleinsteuber Park Road; from Kleinsteuber Park Road to County Road 18, and on County Road 18 from County Road 12 to County Road 11.
Smith continued stating there is a focus on the Millenium Trail as the ‘spine of the network.’
“The first recommendation is to build upon it and enhance it. The Cycling Master Plan identifies it as a linear park that new developments should connect to if feasible. The plan also supports amenities like more of these rest stations and continuing implementing the wayfinding system, particularly at crossings and key connections from urban centres,” Smith explained.
The plan also recommended strategic investments along major roads that connect to the trail, Smith said. For example, Johnson Street and County Road 4 in Picton as well as Consecon Street and Belleville Street in Wellington.
Another recommendation is partnerships to improve the cycling experience and culture.
“This is really around the education and encouragement piece: programs to strengthen cycling culture. We are recommending to determine a centralized resource to steer the cycling initiative,” Smith said.
Examples of this is to complete a bike parking inventory and add high quality bike parking in areas in need, work with businesses frequented with cyclists to help them become more bike friendly, and to develop and promote shoulder-season cycling packages, working in partnership with local businesses.
Continued work with the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) would also be recommended to improve conditions for cyclists on Highway 33 and Highway 62, which fall under MTO’s jurisdiction.
Smith’s report also noted benefits to developing an updated paved shoulder policy.
“A number of municipalities in Ontario have established a paved shoulder policy to outline a consistent approach on the implementation for paved shoulder widths on County roads,” he explained.
Surrounding municipalities such as Lennox and Addington, Lanark and Grey counties have identified cost savings extended life cycles of roads through a paved shoulder policy, Smith added.
Coun. Jamie Forrester mentioned the need for safety on the roads leading to Sandbanks. He noted numerous blind corners and shoulders that are banked the wrong way and are ‘dangerous for cyclists.’
He said he would like to see the dangerous areas dealt with first before adding any new trails.
Coun. Janice Mynard said the County is not a cycling destination and any marketing in that fashion, until improvements are made, would be problematic.
“When we do those upgrades, I would like to see our residents be able to get to the store or from home to work, or from home to their friends place,” she said. “That is where I would see our priorities being before there are routes between attractions. I would like to see it more homegrown.”
In his report, Smith said more funding from all levels of government would be required along with prioritized improvements as money becomes available as well as capitalizing on opportunities to bundle work with other infrastructure projects.
The next steps are a 30-day public review as well as council’s endorsement of the Cycling Master Plan, which will take place at a future council meeting.
Council voted to receive the report for information.