A Public Information Centre session (PIC) was held on September 23, 2014 for a Controlled Access Highway 69 from the Estaire Road Interchange to Highway 17, a distance of approximately 6.3 km; and for the Highway 17, Southeast By-Pass from Highway 69 to Bancroft Drive, a distance of approximately 9.8 km.
Here are our main concerns in regards to this and other prohibited access highway projects that are being planned for Sudbury:
– When building roads for Ontarians, cyclists of all ages and all abilities must be accommodated, as per the new #CycleON Strategy.
– Building multi-use trails certainly addresses the needs of recreational cyclists during certain times of the year (eg summer), but may not necessarily address the needs of commuters and cycling tourists. We should not be depending on multi-use trails as the solution for all cycling traffic. Trails are currently the only potential options for cyclists in this stage’s design documents.
– When building roads, we should ensure that paved shoulders or parallel cycle tracks are included in all designs, in particular if a highway is the only way to get to a destination that was previously accessible to cyclists.
– If an existing route is converted into a prohibited highway, safe and convenient options must be offered to cyclists that do not include the directive to use an alternative route that adds significant distance and time to their trips. Alternatives should not include highways or roads that are already dangerous to cyclists, without a plan in place to address these deficiencies. For example, we are told by the project team to use the existing Highway 17 to Markstay instead of the new prohibited highway. This existing road has no paved shoulders.
– We question why more 4-lane “prohibited” highways are being built in Northern Ontario. Our provincial highways are often the only connectors to our communities, since we don’t have the network of parallel routes as does Southern Ontario. Also, many 4-lane highways in other areas of the country (including the Trans-Canada Highway in the western provinces) allow cycling.
– All prohibited highways have the underlying assumption that development will be prohibited along these roads, and that cycling infrastructure is therefore not required. This is discriminatory to cycling traffic as the message is that cyclists don’t warrant quicker and more efficient travel routes like motorized traffic does. And things do change over time; it is much more cost-effective to build in cycling infrastructure while initial construction is happening, rather than having to retrofit sometime in the future.
– The proposed project includes a 2-lane roundabout. Newer studies on roundabouts conclude that 2-lane roundabouts are significantly dangerous to cyclists. Safe accommodations for cyclists must be integral to the design of all roundabouts in Ontario.