Nfld. & Labrador

St. John's Coun. Art Puddister moves to turn bike lanes into parking

After bringing forward a motion last year to allow winter parking in bicycle lanes, St. John's Coun. Art Puddister has moved to convert the lanes to full-time parking.

Councillor says only 2 or 3 cyclists per week use some bike lanes

Coun. Art Puddister says "bicycles aren't being used" in the designated bike lanes in St. John's, and he wants them to instead be turned into full-time roadside parking. (Jeremy Eaton)

After bringing forward a motion last year to allow winter parking in bicycle lanes, St. John's Coun. Art Puddister moved to convert the lanes to full-time parking.

Puddister said he has heard from residents and other councillors that the bike lanes aren't being used in a number of areas in the city.

Bicycles aren't being used.- Coun . Art Puddister

"Last year, I made a motion to lift the parking ban for the winter months, and last night I made a motion to lift it permanently," he said.

"Unfortunately, it failed by a vote of six to five." 

Residents 'up in arms'

Puddister said residents in the Airport Heights and Cowan Heights neighbourhoods in particular take issue with the lanes.

"If you look at places such as Canada Drive, Frecker Drive, Old Topsail Road, Wicklow Street — residents are up in arms about these things," he said.

The plan was poorly thought out and poorly instituted.- Art Puddister

"They're not only an inconvenience to the people who park on these streets, but in a way, they're a little bit dangerous as well."

According to Puddister, the lanes are rarely used and commuters don't use bicycles in St. John's.

"How can you have a bicycle lane going up both sides of Canada Drive and all these streets when you've got two bicycles, maybe three bicycles a week — that's the point," he said.

"Bicycles aren't being used."

Bike lanes were introduced in St. John's in 2011 as part of a new municipal plan. (CBC)

$2M could have been better spent

Puddister said part of his issue is the federal money used to create the bike lanes could have been better spent.

"The $2 million should have been spent putting bicycle lanes around Quidi Vidi Park, Bowring Park, Bannerman Park," he said.

"I'm not against bicycle lanes at all, but they need to be constructed properly in good locations … the plan was poorly thought out and poorly instituted, and right now we're all paying the price for it." 

Puddister also said the city's bicycle task force, led by Coun. Dave Lane, did "nothing" for 12 months and he aimed to move the group forward with his motion.

'Just open your eyes'

Coun. Lane responded to Puddister's comments Tuesday, and said that while the bike lanes do have issues, turning them into parking spaces isn't a good idea.

"Just because our current system is inadequate doesn't mean completely scrapping it is the smart choice," Lane said. 

"We're working on a plan to provide safe and enjoyable cycling supports and we have to see it through."

Lane also challenged claims that there aren't enough cyclists in the city to warrant bike lanes, adding that they provide a safe space for riders.

"If you think bicycles aren't being used, then just open your eyes while driving around St. John's — there are lots of cyclists all over town and they need safe infrastructure," he said.

Council decided against hiring a bike lane consultant in June 2015 and at the time, Mayor Dennis O'Keefe said "it would have been a wise investment" to spend the $125,000 necessary for a consultant.

With files from the St. John's Morning Show

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