Moncton's bike lane plan fuels controversy

Drivers must start accepting bike lanes as a part of Moncton's transportation plan, according to an Ontario engineer.
Moncton is running into opposition to its plan to add bike lanes to certain roads in the city. (CBC)

Drivers must start accepting bike lanes as a part of Moncton's transportation plan, according to an Ontario engineer.

The expansion of Moncton's bike lane system is proving controversial in the city as some people have argued it is too risky and local politicians haven't consulted enough on the concept.

Daniel Franco, an engineer in Kingston, said the eastern Ontario city began putting in bike lanes a few years ago.

Franco said the addition of bike lanes into the city streets takes a change of mindset among drivers.

"The day of the car as king is over," Franco said.

"If cyclists have a hard time cycling in with traffic because cars don't give them the respect they deserve then what people need is just that extra layer of visual tools, which would be that solid white line on the left of a cyclist and some road symbols and signage."

Kingston has roughly 152,000 in its metropolitan area, which is similar to the 126,400 people in the greater Moncton region.

Franco said the city studied traffic patterns, counted cars, looked at residential density and figured out where it made sense to add the lanes.

He said not everyone is happy with the decision to add the bike lanes but they are committed to keep expanding the program.

Once a city's bike lane plan is adopted, Franco said a municipality is better off putting money into the lanes themselves than spending it on more studies.

"There's no point doing more studies, there's plenty of data that shows, with other cities and other policies and so on that cycling is a good thing," Franco said.

"And if we put it in place now, they will become more accustomed with our youth that grows up with it, so it will be a more accepted form of transportation."

Lack of consultation

The future of bike lanes in Moncton will be raised at a council meeting on Monday.

Brian Cormier said he believes there has been a lack of consultation over the city's plan to add bike lanes in the city. ((CBC))
Brian Cormier  is one of the residents opposed to the city's plan to cut Shediac Road down from four lanes to three in order to create room for bike lanes.

Cormier said he is particularly upset at the lack of consultation with residents.

"The process has been completely one sided and very arrogant if you ask me," Cormier said.

"I'm not sure if it's intentional I don't think it was but that's the way it's come across."

Cormier is a part of a group of citizens asking that the process be reversed. The group believes the new lanes clog traffic and put the cyclists in harm's way.

For his part, Michel Desjardins said he's never seen so many people take up biking in Moncton this summer.

And he said he thinks bike lanes on Shediac Road, which is a major commuting route, will bring even more cyclists out.

"I mean, let's try this, let's give it a try for God's sake," Desjardins said.

"It's paint on pavement, if it doesn't work well let's look at it again."