Cycling Sudbury: city hopes new paths turns more drivers into bikers
Maley Drive Extension, Lorne Street, 2nd Avenue among multi-million dollar projects
As construction season wraps up in Greater Sudbury, this might be remembered as the summer that city streets became friendlier to cyclists.
"Personally I'm quite proud of what we've done for cycling infrastructure," says Tony Cecutti, the city's general manager of infrastructure services.
After years of lobbying and some frustration that Sudbury is falling behind other cities, several dedicated bike paths were built in 2017 including along Second Avenue, the Kingsway, Lorne Street and Paris Street.
But Cecutti says unlike tracking vehicle traffic, it's hard to predict how many cyclists will use the new paths.
"We like to think if we build the infrastructure in the right spot, it will be used," he says.
Rachelle Niemala, the chair of the Sudbury Cyclists Union, says the new infrastructure that separates cars and bikes should make Sudburians less afraid to cycle from point A to point B.
"When they look at that— 'That's my dedicated piece, for me', they're much more likely to say, 'Hey, I'm going to give that a shot,'" she says.
Niemala says the key in the years to come will be to create a cycling network, filling in gaps between paths, such as at Paris and Ramsey Lake Road, and making sure you can peddle to any part of the city.
Millions of city dollars have been spent this summer on new roads and pipes across Greater Sudbury.
"I'd hazard a guess that we've done more municipal infrastructure this year than any year in the city's history," says Cecutti.
That's partly thanks to big ticket projects like the $81 million Maley Drive Extension, which got underway this year.
Jobs that had been paid for in earlier city budgets but were delayed until this year, such as the rebuilding of Second Avenue, also made for a busier season.
Cecutti says other work was fast-tracked for safety reasons, such as replacing the culvert on Kelly Lake Road, which was supposed to wait until 2018.
"And I'm glad we didn't, because that old culvert, as we were removing it, virtually disintegrated in the contractors hands as they were pulling it out, so good timing on that one to get it done," he says.
Eight more bridges are expected to be replaced next year, as well a resurfacing of Kelly Lake Road, reconstruction of Barrydowne Road, as well as the long-awaited $38 million four-laning of Municipal Road 35 between Azilda and Chelmsford.