Windsor

Pillette bike lane proposal draws criticism from Windsor residents

If approved by council Monday night, city staff would rip out parking on the east side of Pillette. A survey of the area showed parking on the west side of the street would be sufficient for the busiest times of the week.

Cycling advocates say bike lanes will add a level of safety for everyone, while reducing traffic congestion

Residents on Pillette Road are protesting a city proposal to add bike lanes to the busy north-south corridor in Windsor's east end. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

A city proposal to add bike lanes along a stretch of Pillette Road in Windsor's east end has dozens of residents balking at the plan, saying cycling is too dangerous along the busy street.

If approved by council Monday night, city staff would rip out parking on the east side of Pillette between Tecumseh Road E. and South National Street. 

A survey of the area showed parking on the west side of the street would be sufficient for the busiest times of the week. Residents in the area disagree, saying parking is already hard to come find. They also say the street is too busy and poses significant risk to cyclists.

"You're going to end up with more trouble than you're asking for," said James Blazek, who has lived in the area for 15 years. "It's going to make the road smaller, cars are going to hit people."

James Blazek is one of dozens of residents who say bike lanes on Pillette Road will endanger cyclists. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

Cycling advocates say this type of trepidation is common in any city when bike lanes are proposed. But introducing cycling infrastructure naturally slows traffic down and reduces congestion once people start using bikes on the road, explained Oliver Swainson of Bike Windsor Essex.

"These are all quite natural concerns … but the irony is that opposite is true," he said of the criticisms against bike lanes. "We actually start to see a switch from drivers switching to riding a bike."

Both sides of the Pillette allow for parking, but spaces are limited to just one side of the street between 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. Reducing parking to just one side will be more than enough to meet demand even during peak hours, according to the staff report. 

Out of 220 properties in the area, 47 people have sent letters opposing the plan, while one person supported it. Because there were no responses from 172 properties, the city considers those to be in support of bike lanes. 

Reg Gagnier opposes the city's plan. Any reduction in parking will make it much more difficult for anyone to find a space, he told CBC News.

Reg Gagnier says adding bike lanes to Pillette Road would put cyclists at risk, while taking away valuable parking spaces on the east-end thoroughfare. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

He also has concerns about people's safety.

"We don't have a lot of bikers that are using the street or sidewalk now," he said. "If you have a family with a youngster who can't ride a bike, doesn't have a lot of experience, veers off into traffic, it's going to be a problem."

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