Bike Lane Opponents’ Stance Starts To Unravel


In a prepared statement reported in the R&T today, opponents of the city’s cycling plan said, “We believe that bike paths off road are the way to go. That way, everyone will be safe.”  The proposed plan would do just that – by turning a mostly-unused parking lane of Laurier into a protected bike lane which is separated from and fenced “off road” to cars.  The opponents would seem to be acknowledging the evidence from across North America that protected bike lanes significantly reduce risk for those cycling, calm traffic, reduce risk for those driving, and encourage big uptakes in cycling activity.

The article also reports that, “Neighbourhood residents opposed to the Laurier Boulevard segment have argued the bike lanes will make an already unsafe traffic situation even more dangerous.”  Those residents still appear to be ignoring the knowledge that protected bike lanes improve safety for all road users, regardless of mode of travel, especially on busy roads. Sherbourne St in Toronto is but one such example.  That knowledge is informing the construction of protected bike lanes on busy roads from coast to coast, with safety improvements noted in every case.

Opponents tacitly acknowledge the cycling plan is good…

They are also quoted as saying, “We are not against bike lanes – just not ones on Laurier Boulevard.”  Opponents tacitly acknowledge the cycling plan is good, clearly casting their actions in a bitter NIMBY light at best.

The number of signatures the opponents have collected appears to reinforce that misinformation-based marketing, often called spreading FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) can be quite effective at times, to the detriment of the community at large. This can always be countered by asking for evidence to back assertions.

Those supporting the plan don’t deal in scowls and dire warnings. They simply point to positive experiences in Ontario’s 28 Bike Friendly Communities that are home to 60% of Ontarians, as well as cities all across Canada and the USA.  Cycling facilities, such as protected bike lanes, are well-proven to be good for families, good for health and good for the cities that implement them.

Author: Alan Medcalf

Alan is a post-corporate, volunteer, community builder living in Brockville, Ontario. He seeks to create sustainable lifestyle advantage for the community by creating opportunities for more people to choose to walk and to ride bikes. He promotes the health, social, environmental and economic benefits of active mobility.

3 thoughts on “Bike Lane Opponents’ Stance Starts To Unravel”

  1. I see people making comments that they are out riding their bikes on Laurier Blvd all the time – I would like to know when – Living on Laurier I never see them – are they riding at night – even when the soccer is in full swing at the fields I don’t see people riding bikes to get there. Go down to Block House and Hardy all the time in the good weather and hardly see anyone riding a bike. I doubt any of the Bike Committee have really ridden their bikes along Laurier – The few people who do have never been hurt.

    1. Those who do choose to ride bikes around town notice that numbers have increased over the last two years. Still, it is a small number who are willing to venture onto some of Brockville’s roads. Late last Fall, as part of some data gathering required for an OMCIP grant, some traffic counts were done (using an MTO-prescribed methodology) on road segments in the “401 crossing” project. In aggregate, we found a cycling mode share of just over 1% – roughly one person cycling for every 100 people driving. That’s not surprising for a cold November day!

      Of more interest is what that data represents. Repeated research in several cities reveals a consistent pattern of responseschart from from people that, while over-simplified, is summarized into four types:

      1. “Strong & fearless: about 1% of people – they’re skilled, experienced, and willing to mix with traffic
      2. “Enthusiastic & confident: about 7% of people – they readily choose to ride, but will seek a group, off-road paths or bike lanes, shying away from busy roads.
      3. “Interested but concerned” – the majority of people fall here, about 60%. They would like the opportunity to ride, but are concerned for their safety.
      4. “No way, no how” – about 33%, this group doesn’t own bikes, haven’t been on a bike since they were a kid, and express no interest in riding, either for purpose or for pleasure.

      What’s most interesting is the consistent pattern of responses to the statement, “I would be more likely to ride a bicycle if motor vehicles and bicycles were separated by a barrier.” The responses:

      1. “strong & fearless” – 43% say “yes”
      2. “Enthusastic & confident” – 62% say “yes”
      3. “Interested but concerned” – 85% say “yes”
      4. “No way, No how” – 37% say “yes”, showing desire even from this segment

      The other observation is that a lot of people in the “No way, No how” group, when driving or walking around, don’t notice bikes.

      In summary, the evidence is clear that there is sizable latent demand. This is reflected in the comments received from those speaking out in favour of the cycling network project. It’s also reflected in the large upswing in cycling numbers when protected bike lanes are provided. There’s more information on this and related topics in the FAQ postings.

  2. I am in support of bicycle lanes on Laurier Blvd, Brockville ON. Further, contrary to the fact that opposers claim in recent full page print ads, that Laurier is a ‘double lane’ roadway, it is not (only a turning lane exists at two far-apart intersections). At 40′ wide, Laurier is amply wide, and perfectly suited, for bicycle lanes. Health (through cycling exercise) and accessibility (via this effective method of transportation), will be the net result of cycling lanes.

    Nancy Roberts, Brockville, Canada
    (Property owner – one rental unit in vicinity)

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