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Queen Street bike lanes - what they mean for motorists

Thursday, April 03, 2014   by: Darren Taylor

The city's plan to convert a stretch of Queen Street East to include bike lanes may be ideal for bicyclists, but it will change the way motorized vehicles access the route.

The proposed change, which would convert that part of the roadway from four lanes to three, will eliminate roadside parking along that part of Queen, make it more difficult for motorists to pass slower traffic, and also raises questions such as whether e-bikes will be allowed to travel on the bicycle lanes.

Jerry Dolcetti, Commissioner of Engineering and Planning, told the city is confident motorists will adapt.

Motorists will have to use side streets for parking near that stretch of Queen Street.

“What they have done is park on the side streets and that’s the only thing they can do, there is space,” Dolcetti said.

As for motorists finding it more difficult to pass slower traffic, Dolcetti said that while motorists will always have to stop for school buses, city buses and other slower vehicles may be passed using the two-way left turn centre lane if that lane is clear.

Dolcetti said he was still investigating what the city’s position will be regarding e-bikes on the bicycle lanes.

Currently, the vehicles are not allowed on the John Rowswell Hub Trail.

Runners and skateboarders, as well as smaller children on tricycles, will be expected to use the sidewalk.

Sault residents concerned with the city’s three-lane plan have until April 26 to make their concerns known.

Members of the public may review the plan on the City of Sault Ste. Marie website, then click on the Bulletins section of the city hall page.

Council, at its March 24 meeting, approved a plan that will reconfigure Queen Street to three lanes from Pim Street to east of Gravelle Street (near the Sault Ste. Marie Golf Club) within existing pavement widths.

The plan would see one lane of traffic in each direction with a continuous two-way left turn centre lane, with bicycle lanes adjacent to each curb (pictured).

The plan is currently a Schedule B project under the Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (“Class EA”) process.

Members of the public have until April 26 to submit what is known as a Part II Order request directly to the Minister of the Environment, with a copy of the request sent to the city, if concerns cannot be resolved with the City over the three lane project.

Dolcetti told the Minister would have the final say.

If no Part II Order request is received by the cutoff, the three-laning of Queen will begin as planned this summer.

Dolcetti said it is not the number of objections, but rather the rationale behind them, that would require the Environment Minister to intervene.

Engineering and Planning staff have said it is unlikely the minister would halt the project, as it is a straightforward resurfacing and repainting of lines on the road.

City staff held a well-attended open house in mid-February at the Civic Centre regarding the three-lane proposal.

Members of the public met with Engineering and Planning staff and local representatives of AECOM Canada, an engineering/consulting firm working with the city on the plan.

A Sault Ste. Marie Cycling Master Plan Update, which consisted of public input, was approved by city council in 2007.

In 2008,  a transportation planning consultant retained by the city concluded it was feasible for Queen Street to be reconfigured from four lanes down to three, with provisions for cyclists, based on projected reduced traffic volumes for the area.

Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
Lone24 4/3/2014 11:09:50 AM Report

This is going to be interesting to hear all the negative comments start.
iamtc 4/3/2014 11:18:18 AM Report

I hope these lanes are pot hole free unlike the mess on about 90 of streets all year long especially great norther and pine what a joke I seen today one guy filling the massive pot hole on great norther and 5 guys from city smoking and drinking Tim hortons coffee I was too drinking coffee I rolled up the rim it said drive with caution
superior87 4/3/2014 11:21:06 AM Report

This is a great idea, something being implemented in thousands of cities in NA and around the globe.

It's going to be hilarious reading the inevitable negative comments about how their 10 minute commute in the morning will be 11 minutes now, or how they'll have to walk 20 feet from their parked car (even though cars parked on the road already took up a lane on Queen).

There's already an alternate route (Wellington) if you want to use it. Queen St., now that the hospital is gone, is probably the best location for a bike lane like this. Close to the hub trail, it can funnel people downtown to the boardwalk, it can funnel people to Bellevue, and it will help make cycling safer on this road.
Lone24 4/3/2014 11:23:32 AM Report

LMFAO! Good one iamtc about the roll up to win.
NB113 4/3/2014 11:38:10 AM Report

Interesting that the City says that the centre lane will also be a passing lane. I wonder if they will pass that gem onto the police.
saldog 4/3/2014 11:45:30 AM Report


If you are going to continue to post such ridiculousness, could you at least make legible sentences using punctuation as well as correct grammar? I saw versus I seen for example. Every comment I read of yours not only sounds extremely uneducated it often is missing another key element.....facts.

Thank you.
Dead End Kid 4/3/2014 11:50:48 AM Report

It's common sense,keep the e bikes from using the bike lanes. They are motorized and quick enough to be in the flow of traffic. Yo have to take into account that there will also be children and older people using the bike paths which will increase the risk of accidents happening when the e bikes cut them off and you know that this is going to happen.
SLV1931 4/3/2014 11:52:52 AM Report

you can ride a bike outside for 1/4 of the year. Great use of space and a great solution to Sault Ste Marie traffic congstion problems.
B Boy 4/3/2014 12:16:20 PM Report

@SLV1931 - you'll see more & more people riding bikes throughout the entire year.
A few years ago snow tires for bikes didn't even exist, they do not.

Sault Ste. Marie is the least bike & pedestrian friendly city I've ever been in. Unfortunately the urban planning that should have been done 30-40 years ago wasn't done so now we're paying the price and scrambling due to their lack of foresight.

I think incorporating bike lanes is great and is one of the things slowly bring SSM into the 20th (yes 20th) century. Perhaps the planning could be better once again, but I'm not expert in this area.
B Boy 4/3/2014 12:16:41 PM Report

Bah, I meant snow tires exist NOW.

Lazy fingers.
double eagle 4/3/2014 12:19:58 PM Report

If you folks who believe e-bikes do not belong in the bike lane;I suggest you look to the Highway Traffic Act of Ontario for clarification. Under the definitions you will find e-bike is INCLUDED as a bicycle (power-assisted bicycle). The Province has already sorted this out for you. Just obey the traffic laws (motor vehicles, vehicles and pedestrians)and every one should be safe.
The City can not pass a by-law that contradicts the HTA.
Sam G 4/3/2014 12:21:36 PM Report

Can anyone tell me why they are not using this money to put in side walks on queen street east. From the sewer plant all the way to the end of queen east. This is a very unsafe portion of queen for general walkers and students.
ThinkAgain 4/3/2014 12:32:53 PM Report

Accident waiting to happen
Slim Shady 4/3/2014 12:39:20 PM Report

@ Sam G

I agree. I hope that this will be addressed if they extend this project (and they should) in the next phase to connect the bike path with area schools.

@ iamtc

I am sick and tired of people bashing the cops, PUC, City workers etc when they see them at Tim Hortons or if they are sitting having a break. How do you know that the workers were not taking their allotted coffee break and choose instead of sitting inside a Tim Horton’s they decided to bring their coffee back and enjoy it on the job site? Workers are entitled to breaks… whether they are government or private company workers.

Maybe if you hit a pot hole big enough it would knock your brain around the empty space you call a head and enable you to see things from perhaps a positive perspective.

Back to the story…. I believe that bike lanes and proper sidewalks ensure safety while encouraging physical fitness. It is a good thing for all citizens and taxpayers.
D_Laity 4/3/2014 12:41:23 PM Report

Adding bike lanes is a great idea! Adding bike lanes at the cost of vehicle lanes is a terrible idea!

If we were in an area where biking was an option year round (like Florida) then we have something to talk about. But winter tires or not, biking is not a viable option for 3/5 months of the year.

The road should be widened to accommodate this. That's the correct solution.

KiwiOnASticK 4/3/2014 1:22:19 PM Report

Key words in the plan: "based on projected reduced traffic volumes for the area"

Where is the study that confirms this projection? The groundhog projected 6 more weeks of winter and we already passed that mark. I am willing to support this plan if the city is willing to collect the traffic statistics that confirm Queen Street traffic has significantly reduced since the closure of the hospital site.
spike5 4/3/2014 1:28:49 PM Report

Mr. Dolcetti basically told the public that no matter what or how there are realistic concerns over eliminating a lane on Queen, it's going to happen no matter what. I live in the east end of the city and while have no real opposition to bikes, I do not believe that to accommodate the very few in our type of environment is the way to go with our dollars. We have a very large portion of the city's population base here with only 2 access roads in and out. I do not agree that this plan as is would benefit our end of town at all. I heard of a proposal to widen the sidewalk on the southside of Queen from Pim to Lake for bikes as an alternative as there is already a full length sidewalk from the length of Queen to Boundary for walking. The congestion that will occur by eliminating a lane during the winter months (snowbanks) and with city buses, school buses and heavy equipment is a headache waiting to happen.I did not know of this plan and I'm afraid I didn't know about the council meeting to discuss it which is my mistake but talking with all my neighbours, no one else knew of this either. I think our representatives should have made us more aware before dropping this in our laps as they had to know it would be met with a large amount of disagreement. Bikes trump vehicles in the Soo and in our environment? I'm all for helping the environment but let's get realistic here. Cutting a lane out of a main thoroughfare for the sake of a very few needs much more thought here.
D_Laity 4/3/2014 1:29:26 PM Report


If the stats they are using are from the last 3 years then the stats would show that traffic on Queen Street is significantly reduced. The main reason for this is not the hospital closer, but the construction that has been going every year on the stretch of Queen by the hospital. People are funnelling to Trunk from the east end instead of Queen which will show stats on that stretch of road way down.

I live off Shannon, right at Queen and all summer I don't use Queen right now due to construction.

So any recent numbers cannot be trusted as accurate.
Dead End Kid 4/3/2014 1:44:39 PM Report

Double Eagle the article states that the city is still determining whether or not they will allow e bikes on the bike trail so obviously that means they can pass a city by law if they wish to do so.
spike5 4/3/2014 1:53:10 PM Report

I meant to say in my previous post that eliminating a lane on Queen is "NOT" the way to go.
GoHoundsGo 4/3/2014 2:21:04 PM Report

Passing slower vehicals in a two way center turning lane is in complete contradiction to the Highway Saftey Traffic Act, which CANNOT be circumvented by illustrious city council. Only in Sault Ste Marie do we go out of our way to increase traffic congestion rather then improve it. The volume of traffic on Queen East might have reduced marginally, unless its after a event like a Greyhound game, then you're in for it. To all the pro-bike lane people, you are the minority, a very tiny minority of the tax payers in that area or not. I use this road every morning to go to work and every afternoon to go home. Its bad enough right now because of the pot holes reducing the road to three lanes and getting stuck behind a city bus or a motorist driving 45km on a dry clear road but to deal with that 365 days a year to make a slim minority happy, I say bulls#!^. Wanna ride your bike super, great, awesome even, but do it with in the already alotted space and within the current HSTA laws that already have been provided for you. I will protest this project and will gather the necessary signatures to stop it, because I know the overwhelming majority of people once informed will see it my way and the way of the "negative" people on this topic.
GoHoundsGo 4/3/2014 2:22:46 PM Report

Sorry "Safety"
soowat 4/3/2014 2:23:03 PM Report

Personally I would sooner have a bike lane than the aggravation of two people on bikes riding side by side impeding traffic or the fright given by a cyclist veering across the lane with no warning and of course the always popular,riding the wrong way maneuver
rione 4/3/2014 2:27:42 PM Report

Use the turning lane to pass…lol…very smart!
I read the EA, the city had 120 bike enthusiasts come and sign in favour of the bike lanes at the Nov 2011 open house which was originally only from Pim to Simpson. And the same 100 people went to the Feb. 13 2014 open house which then changed from Pim to Gravelle…..So let’s inconvenience thousands of motorists for 100+ cyclists who will only really use it maybe 6 months! And spend thousands along the way! Oh ya, we will open the bike lanes in Nov-Dec 2014. Another example of why we need new representatives at city hall!
I support the bike paths but not at the expense of vehicle lanes!
GoHoundsGo 4/3/2014 2:36:49 PM Report

Oh yea I forgot one other thing, I don't give a hoot what other cities in NA are doing to accomodate bikes, this is SSM, northern city, with northern weather. I'm not concerned about adding a few minutes to my commute, I'm concerned about my tax dollars going to something that benefits a small minority to only incovenience the majority. But if this project goes forward, and thats a big if, I better see every single cyclist obeying the laws of the road. ie. lights, reflectors, stopping at stop signs, stopping and red lights and not proceding till green, riding single file and NOT passing to the right of vehicles when stopped at an intersection etc, because I see this all spring, summer and fall when the cyclists hit the road, I will call and report every single one of them, hands free of course with voice dial to the sergants desk not 911 ;) Wow that felt good !
ddfive 4/3/2014 2:52:56 PM Report

what about the rest of the city there is more then just that section of queen street east .that us bike riders ride our bikes on more then that peice of road there is the west end as well walliceterrice n 2nd line west , wellington street west that need bike lains as well plus main down town streets as well n threw the city .
MissKika 4/3/2014 2:54:35 PM Report

Cyclists have the right to use an entire lane of traffic as it is.
Currently, if there are cyclists travelling east and west on Queen Street, there are only two lanes left for vehicles to use. With actual designated bike lanes, the same scenario will leave vehicles with 2 lanes PLUS a centre turning lane.

Sounds like a smart and safe plan.
Gumby54 4/3/2014 3:07:01 PM Report

What happens when there are 2 cyclists and one decides to ride in the bike lane and the other in the other lane? There is no law that I am aware of that states if there is a bike lane you cannot ride in any other lane. It is strictly a lane that ONLY a bike can ride in and not any motorised vehicle. Although I am not opposed to bike lanes, the removal of 2 lanes for vehicles is a step backwards.
spike5 4/3/2014 3:15:02 PM Report

With a majority population base in our city in the senior category, I do not see where there would be a great demand for a bike lane and being in the senior category myself, I won't be utilizing this money wasting plan and I don't see any large number of my senior compadre's pedaling uptown and back anytime soon. Making our Northern Ontario city bike friendly at the expense of our main access roads and streets is absurd. This will more than likely be rammed down our throats just like our "NEW & IMPROVED" water supply was and still is. Someone at the PUC must have a large amount of shares in Brita I'd think. Now with this street proposal, which one in authority has the shares in asphalt/concrete?
daddy frank 4/3/2014 3:43:11 PM Report

I live on Queen St and see two lanes of traffic backed up for a block on many occasions now, what is going to happen when we have only one lane? 100's if not 1000's of cars use QUEEN DAILY and u are going to change the street to accomadate a handful of bike users! that can only ride a bike a few months of the year. Our council and Dolcetti are out of their minds. YOU CAN'T fix stupid
iamtc 4/3/2014 4:22:24 PM Report

Saldog you must be the inventor of scrabble. I rather not fix or check my grammer or sentences as I don't really care as much as u do you circus clown. P.s. watch out for pot holes when u ride your bike
spike5 4/3/2014 4:25:11 PM Report

To "Go Hounds Go". If you want signatures that agree with you, come to Gravelle Street and Garden Avenue. This plan by the city engineering and planning departments was not well thought out nor were the citizens to be most affected by this plan informed officially by either their representatives (councilmen) or the city itself for feedback from the tax paying public whose monies go towards these projects. There are a number of items on the city agenda that would be better served than patronizing a limited amount of the population.
Newsjunkie 4/3/2014 4:43:12 PM Report

It seems to me that the whole 'passing slower traffic' issue on Queen Street should be solved by having bike lanes. Set a speed limit for e-bikes to use it so that slower e-bike riders can stay out of general traffic flow. In this city, 'passing slower traffic' seems to consist of those who have no patience and exceed the speed limit to pass those doing the speed limit. Suck it up. I don't ride my bike anymore because of the lack of bike lanes. For years when I lived in London, ON I used a bicycle as my sole means of transportation and rarely had to ride on a roadway. Bike paths were everywhere. I would like to see our city become more bicycle friendly so that I can raise my kids to be active bike riders and not car polluters. It is a step in the right direction.
Gumby54 4/3/2014 5:15:26 PM Report

E-bikes are considered bicycles under the HTA and as such can ride in the new bike lane. The city cannot - as someone posted earlier - make specific bylaws to supercede the HTA. And as they are bikes, they could potentially ride in the one lane left for motor vehicles and slow traffic down even further. As there are now two separate lanes, bike riders could ride side by side, each in a separate lane; something they cannot do now as they must ride single file per the HTA.
rockbanger 4/3/2014 5:35:55 PM Report

Promoting the healthy lifestyle and use of bikes is a positive step.

This town could use some forward thinking and items like 'old style' bike lanes.

Next year we will need to make more bike lanes.

Bikes help everyone with their health and it is a wise move.

Downtown should be 100% bike friendly.
OrlandoFlorida 4/3/2014 5:47:18 PM Report

I think the bike lanes are a great idea, my only question is in the winter months will the road be plowed back to the curb or will they use the bike path lanes as a place to dump the snow from the road? This is just a question of interest not a concern.
NB113 4/3/2014 5:52:12 PM Report

I doubt there can be anything said to change the minds of this city council so I will be doing the next best thing. I will vote to change this council and mayor this upcoming election. I think the ward 1 councilors are in trouble this election anyway and our mayor....well what can I we even have one now?
Lone24 4/3/2014 6:50:13 PM Report

WoW, all these negative comments about the new change for Queen. To me it sounds like they are all ones that would rather sit on their fat a$$es driving their gas guzzling vehicles. Probably don't even know what exercise means.
Sammy1099 4/3/2014 7:11:02 PM Report

"Cyclists have the right to use an entire lane of traffic as it is. "

I seem to recall that bikers are not supposed to take a full lane unless circumstances necessitate it. They are in fact supposed to stay as close to the curb as they can safely. This is what I recall when a City cop did a series in the paper about HTA and bikes someone correct me if I’m wrong.

Sammy1099 4/3/2014 7:19:08 PM Report

"passing slower traffic' seems to consist of those who have no patience and exceed the speed limit to pass those doing the speed limit. "

Patience has nothing to do with it.The thing is when someone at the front is doing the speed limit the person twenty cars behind them is doing maybe half that. The outside lane is supposed to be used for faster traffic yet in this town you have pea brains that drive side by side and bottleneck traffic for blocks. You are supposed to travel at a safe speed when passing that means overtaking the car as quickly as necessary.

I think that losing a lane on queen for a few bikers is not an overly intelligent move. This in my opinion will only add to congestion.

They do realise that the reduced traffic on queen has been due to the snail pace (one block a year) construction?

OrlandoFlorida 4/3/2014 7:23:13 PM Report

Riding as close to a curb is perhaps the most dangerous place to ride a bike, first there is the drain covers which a rider must swerve around, and then there are the car drivers who will not change lanes to go around the cyclist, instead the car drivers will come within inches of the bike rider. And finally a bike rider does have the right to have the lane of traffic, refer to following from the Ontario Highway Traffic Act (HTA)
Taking a lane

In urban areas where a curb lane is too narrow to share safely with a motorist, it is legal to take the whole lane by riding in the centre of it. On high-speed roads, it is not safe to take the whole lane. To move left in a lane, should check, signal, left and shoulder check again then move to the centre of the lane when it is safe to do so.

And for those who don't believe, the following link will take you to the appropriate section of the Traffic Act
Sammy1099 4/3/2014 7:30:14 PM Report


It says what I just said "They are in fact supposed to stay as close to the curb as they can safely." In other words they are supposed to yield to faster traffic when it is safe to do so. It doesnt say they can take a full lane.

The relevent sections C/P for your convenience.

"Because bicycles usually travel at a lower speed, there are two rules of the road to which cyclists must pay special attention:

1 slower traffic stays right
2 slower traffic must give way to faster traffic when safe and practical

Accordingly, cyclists should ride one meter from the curb or close to the right hand edge of the road when there is no curb, unless they are turning left, going faster than other vehicles or if the lane is too narrow to share. "
avocet 4/3/2014 7:38:21 PM Report

As close to the right as "practical" is the wording. The MTO handbook says: "In urban areas where a curb lane is too narrow to share safely with a motorist, it is legal to take the whole lane by riding in the centre of it. "
Sammy1099 4/3/2014 7:52:11 PM Report


Yes but yielding to faster traffic when safe to do so. It doesn't mean a cyclist can park his ass in the middle of the road.

I fail to see when it would be un-safe to be near the curb in 99% of the incidents in this town. This excludes the obvious like avoiding obstacles and pot holes.
Sammy1099 4/3/2014 8:12:37 PM Report

I understand now why there are so many bike/car collisions. The majority of those collisions usually find the cyclist at fault. Cyclists seem to be ignorant of the HTA as it applies to them or choose to ignore it. Regardless of the HTA common sense and self preservation should tell you to move out of the way of a car.

Plenty of times I’ve driven down roads were cyclist take up a whole lane when they shouldn’t be. They do realise if they cause an accident they can be held liable just like a driver. This means even if they are the injured party which is usually what happens when flesh and bones argue with 2 tonnes of steel. They will be paying to fix the damage there body does to the vehicle.
AHappyMan 4/3/2014 9:53:02 PM Report

I understand the reasoning behind making bike lanes in this city but I do NOT - repeat I do NOT - support taking away traffic lanes in order to do so. This city is so short thinking in so many ways because this sort of thing ( bike lanes ) should have been part of the city plan years or even decades ago. Today we are scrambling around trying to fit bike lanes in without spending any money to do so. Maybe someone should inform our city council that this is the NORTH and we actually have WINTERS here.

Imagine an ambulance trying to get around bumper to bumper traffic on a congested road in the winter when the snowbanks take up all or at least most of the so-called bike lanes. This means that the bikes are now traveling in the main roadway part which again is helping to congest traffic. Add to this, that idiot NON-engineer Dolceti ( who is supposedly in charge of the Engineering Department at city hall ) telling all of us that we can simply ignore the HTA and pass slower moving vehicles in the middle turning lanes. Is it any wonder that the residents of this city are tired of the idiots being hired to help run this excellent city?

There IS a need for bike lanes in this city but definitely NOT at the expense of taking away a driving lane on a busy street as far as I am concerned. With this being said, I guess you can add me as one of those who will post a 'negative' response to this idea :(
guestwho 4/3/2014 11:48:45 PM Report

Way too much crap to read,but does that mean we can now use Grt.Nor.Rd`s centre lane to pass or will every road have different rules????
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