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Queen Street bike lanes - what they mean for motorists

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 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.

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Darren Taylor

About the Author: Darren Taylor

Darren Taylor is a news reporter and photographer in Sault Ste Marie. He regularly covers community events, political announcements and numerous board meetings. With a background in broadcast journalism, Darren has worked in the media since 1996.
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