Thunder Bay city council approved several kilometres of new active transportation routes at Monday night's council meeting — but councillors also discussed whether to temporarily close a stretch of bike lane along Victoria Avenue.

Councillor Larry Hebert raised the idea, citing concerns about congestion on Victoria during construction on nearby Arthur Street.

“I'm going to suggest, for that period of time, that we do not put the bike lanes on Victoria from Waterloo to Edward until that construction's over, and then put them back in.”


Thunder Bay councillor Larry Hebert. (Supplied)

Paul Pugh was one councillor not in favour of the idea.

“They were put in there for safety of cyclists and, if there's more traffic, we want to make sure that the cyclists remain safe,” he said.

“I think that removing the lines would be a backwards step.”

Coun. Rebecca Johnson added that “trying to have people educated to actually use that street as a bike lane has taken us virtually two and a half-plus years.”

Rebecca Johnson

Thunder Bay councillor Rebecca Johnson. (Supplied)

Coun. Mark Bentz seconded Hebert's motion to bring it to the council floor for discussion, though ultimately voted against it.

"When you're going east-west in the south side, there's really only one large arterial, [and] that's Arthur St.,” he said.

“So if you bring it down to a two-lane road in that section, we all know what's going to happen when vehicles want to turn: it's going to back up traffic. And, obviously, they're going to migrate to Victoria Avenue."

Thunder Bay’s manager of engineering Pat Mauro said he doesn't expect a large increase in traffic during the project, which is starting this week and will take almost four months to complete.

Pat Mauro

Thunder Bay city engineering manager Pat Mauro. (Adam Burns/CBC)

Mauro added city staff will keep an eye on traffic volumes along Victoria during construction.

“To date, we haven't seen a very large issue with detouring traffic in other projects,” he said.

In the end, council kept the bike lanes open, and approved several kilometres of new ones on Grenville Avenue, Valley Street, William Street, Winnipeg Avenue and Pioneer Drive

The additions will extend Thunder Bay's bike lane network to slightly more than 40 kilometres.