New Charlottetown roundabout design 'recipe for disaster'

The plans for a roundabout at Charlottetown’s Vogue Optical corner need to be adjusted to include an active transportation lane, says Bike Friendly Communities.

‘You don’t want your kids merging with traffic in a roundabout’

Dedicated bike lanes are the best way to encourage new cyclists, says Mitch Underhay. (Helen Pike/CBC)

The plans for a roundabout at a major Charlottetown intersection need to be adjusted to include an active transportation lane, says Bike Friendly Communities.

The roundabout would replace a complex and confusing five-way intersection where the east end of Belvedere meets St. Peters Road —  sometimes referred to as the Vogue Optical corner.

The current design shows a bike lane coming up to the roundabout but then it stops, said Bike Friendly Communities executive director Mitch Underhay. At that point as a cyclist, you would either have to merge with traffic or dismount and walk your bike through.

The roundabout will replace a five-way intersection. (City of Charlottetown)

Having bicycles merge with motor vehicle traffic in a large roundabout is not safe, said Underhay.

"When you try to put bicycles in there too it's basically a recipe for disaster," he said.

"You don't want your kids merging with traffic in a roundabout."

'A lot harder to change it once it's built'

Underhay's group is urging the city to look ahead to the future when it comes to using bicycles to get around.

Underhay said he appreciates that changing the design now, with the design approved and construction scheduled to begin this summer, is complicated.

"But it's a lot harder to change it once it's built. So now's the time to tweak the design," he said. "It's way cheaper to do it now rather than try to retrofit something after it's built."

It is when streets and intersections are being redeveloped that active transportation needs to be considered, said Underhay.

His group's research shows that painted bike lanes are helpful for experienced cyclists, but children and others new to biking are more likely to be encouraged to cycle if a more secure option is available.

Space concerns

Underhay noted dedicated lanes are available at other roundabouts in the city, such as the ones on Riverside Drive or the North River causeway.

Scott Adams, Charlottetown's manager of public works, said there are space challenges with the intersection, given the businesses established there and other infrastructure.

"The biggest challenge here remains land access that would allow the City to expand the current project footprint," Adams wrote in an email to CBC News.

Bike Friendly Communities has a meeting scheduled with the city to discuss the roundabout next week.

With files from Island Morning


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