Response of CPEI to the news release on by-pass
February 25, 2010 — David Sims
The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal has announced a $5M upgrade to portions of the Charlottetown By-Pass in the vicinity of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. The main goal is to add extra lanes for motor vehicles. However, there is concern that in this day and age, the needs of pedestrians and bicyclists should also be addressed in any major renewal of public roads.
1. In the interests of Islanders' health and costs of living, and to reduce excess emission of carbon dioxide, Cycling Prince Edward Island remains committed to helping the provincial and city governments develop safe, effective bicycling routes in and around Charlottetown (and elsewhere).
2. If the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal considers that the new by-pass and roundabouts will not be particularly safe for bicyclists, we request that they design a parallel bike path adjacent to the by-pass. There is room for a path, there is a need for a bike path connecting Stratford with Cornwall, and the occasion of by-pass renewal is the logical time to build it.
3. CPEI enjoys good working relationships with the Ministry, and looks forward to opportunities to assist in the design of a bikeway corridor across the capital city region, enabling safer bicycling for citizens and tourists. CPEI, the city of Charlottetown and TIR are members of an intergovernmental bicycling committee that was created by TIR.
The Department of TIR raises a good point; there are times when traffic loads and speeds make sharing a road with bicycles unwise. This problem has been encountered in many towns, cities, provinces and countries. The universal solution is to build separate bike paths. When there is not enough room to build a new path, a lane is taken from the motor vehicles and given over to bike paths. In the case of the Charlottetown by-pass, this option is not likely needed, as there is room for combining sound berms with bike paths. This solution has previously been proposed by the City of Charlottetown.
4. CPEI is not convinced that roundabouts are a potential source of danger for bicyclists. In Europe and Australia, they are used as a solution to safe design of multi-purpose roadways and intersections.
5. Charlottetown has a unique shape and design, predicated by the surrounding rivers and harbor front. There are limited options to designing a by-pass, and these restrictions apply equally to the design of efficient bikeways. The Hillsborough Bridge to Stratford and the causeway leading to Cornwall are frequently cited weak points for tourists and Islanders seeking to ride bicycles in the capital city area. A need for a provincial by-pass highway cutting through the city of Charlottetown is in some ways unfortunate, but there is opportunity to meet the needs of both TIR to provide a good road, and the city to develop a good system of non-motorized transportation if all parties work together in a cooperative manner.
6. TIR cites limitations of road allotment ( i.e., the available road width) as a reason for not being able to accommodate a bike lane or path into the by-pass renewal. This must be renegotiated. Between the city, the province, the local homeowners and other stake holders, a better solution can be found that will enable, for example, a person living in Stratford to ride a bicycle to work at the QEH, then to the University to attend an afternoon class.
7. The time has come for the provincial government to re-examine its overall mandate in providing transportation infrastructure. Walking, public transportation and bicycling are increasingly being chosen as alternatives to motor vehicles. If PEI is to develop safe walking and bicycling routes for children to walk or cycle to schools, if tourists are to ride safely on this Island, and if commuting by bicycle is to become more common, we need to set new priorities on road use.