Bay Street bike route officially opens

The city has officially opened the new Bay Street bike lanes Friday.

The Bay Street route is 2.3 km between Aberdeen Avenue and Stuart Street

Sigrid and Enoch Blank were both ready to open the Bay St. bike lanes Friday. (Laura Clementson/CBC)

The city officially opened the much-anticipated Bay Street bike lanes on Friday, providing cyclists with a north-south route connection from Aberdeen Avenue to the Waterfront Trail. 

Members of the public and politicians gathered at city hall on the side of Bay Street around noon for a "cycling mini fair" before a brief ceremony, including a ribbon cutting. 

After the ribbon was cut, cyclists jumped on their bikes for a short group ride from city hall to the Waterfront Trail. 

Ward 2 Coun. Jason Farr stands beside his political counterparts to cut the ribbon, officially opening the new lanes. (Laura Clementson/CBC News)

Mike Clements was one of the first cyclists to try out the lanes after their initial christening. 

"It's going to ensure the bikers have a lot of extra safety. It just puts us in a safe place. That's what the whole thing is about," said Clements. 

The 2.3 kilometres of new cycling infrastructure connects neighbourhoods to the downtown area and to waterfront recreational areas. It also connects to GO and Hamilton transit services, as well as to the future light rail transit (LRT) line. 

Rebecca Kallsen of Momentum Fitness says the new lanes will improve the overall wellbeing of people in the city. 

"What it means is that we're going to see a lot more people in Hamilton moving," said Kallsen. 

The city now boasts over 200 kilometres of bike lanes across the city. Ward 2 Coun. Jason Farr says that's massive, especially with this particular route. 

"This is extremely important and particularly because this is an arterial route that really puts the 'art' in arterial because there's now a safer opportunities for families, kids, seniors," said Farr. "Even if seniors are walking, we just doubled the width of the sidewalk where to the south it gets kind of narrow and scary when cars are ripping by in that lane, well they're not going to be doing that anymore and it a protected bike lane, you have a protected sidewalk as well." 

The new 2.3 kilometre bike route is part of over 200 kilometres of bike lanes across Hamilton. (Laura Clementson/CBC News)

The city received $295,000 for the project from the province through the Ontario Municipal Cycling Infrastructure program, a $10 million program that provides 50 per cent of project costs to a maximum of $325,000. The Ministry of Transportation says that cash was awarded for projects in 37 Ontario communities.

"The bike in front of you or beside you is the car that isn't," said Ontario Minister of Tourism, and Culture and Sport, Eleanor McMahon. "One of the things that I'm really proud of is we've changed the conversation in Ontario. This isn't about if, this is about how, and that's what today is about. We've moved well past the debate about whether or not we should be investing in cycling infrastructure across Ontario, and cities like Hamilton understand that."