By Doug Hallett
The value of city hall’s proposed new cycling master plan far outweighs the resulting loss of on-street parking on sections of five city streets, three cycling advocates told city councillors this week.
There are plenty of streets in Guelph where on-street parking isn’t allowed, “and life goes on,” Suzanne Gates told a council committee meeting Tuesday.
The five-member committee unanimously endorsed the cycling master plan, which now goes to council Monday for approval.
The master plan proposes a variety of measures aimed at tripling the number of transportation – as opposed to for-pleasure – cycling trips taken in Guelph by 2022. It calls for on-street parking to be removed from sections of Downey, Eastview and Grange roads, Starwood Drive and Stevenson Street in order to make way for cycling lanes.
Gates said both Guelph newspapers had “negative headlines” last week about the aspect of the master plan that would remove on-street parking from these five streets, but she argued that the merits of the plan outweigh any such concerns.
Gates, a member of the steering committee of the Guelph Coalition for Active Transportation, said she’s retired and relies on her bike as her primary mode of transportation. She said she was “quite thrilled” by the master plan and looks forward to travelling along bike lanes, instead of having to cycle illegally on sidewalks for safety reasons.
“People of my generation are embracing cycling for health, enjoyment and environmental reasons,” she told council’s planning & building, engineering and environment committee.
But, Gates said, council needs to also keep in mind the needs of young people, who often delay getting their driver’s licences these days. “The younger generation wants to live in cities that are walkable and cyclable,” she said.
Martin Collier, also a member of the Guelph Coalition for Active Transportation, said he moved to Guelph from Toronto in 2011. If people in Guelph want on-street parking, “perhaps they should pay for it,” he said.
Collier urged council to look at charging for on-street parking across the city, which he said would be the easiest way to raise money for improved cycling infrastructure. “You are going to have push-back from people who think they deserve on-street parking,” he added.
Donna Jennison, the third delegation, said council should keep in mind city residents who can’t afford cars and need to commute by bike.
Jennison said she’d raised 100 signatures on a petition in favour of the new cycling master plan in just one week and could easily have got more.
Rajan Philips, the city’s manager of development engineering and transportation planning, said on-street parking on the five affected streets is mostly by visitors to residents, not by the streets’ residents themselves. There is no high-density housing on the five streets, and the homes there generally have adequate parking for their residents, he said.
In the end, Philips said, the community must decide through city council whether to give priority to cycling over parking.
Noting that four out of the five affected streets are in the east end, Coun. Jim Furfaro said he wanted to ensure there is consultation with these residents so they can express any concerns they might have.