Less than 12 hours after Chatham-Kent council nixed the idea of creating bike lanes on McNaughton Avenue in Chatham, about 220 cyclists cruised through South Kent. And they spent much of that time on busy Talbot Trail.
Notice the irony here?
Ten councillors axed a proposal by administration to remove parking along McNaughton Avenue West and establish bike lanes. Mayor Randy Hope cited too much traffic as a key reason to say no to the bike lanes.
Yet, a huge group of cyclists from the Greater Toronto Area pedaled along a highway in the municipality just a few hours later, on the annual Great Waterfront Trail Tour between Lakeshore and Fort Erie. But McNaughton’s too busy for council.
Chatham cyclists told council they fear for their lives when they bike on McNaughton. Here was a chance to make it safer for them, at least from Fergie Jenkins Parkway near the college to Juliette Avenue near Tecumseh school. As repaving is already planned in lifecycle work, the only costs would have been for signage and paint on the roadway.
What is curious is how someone, perhaps a student at St. Clair College, gets to anywhere in north Chatham without using McNaughton Avenue. Short of biking in a roundabout manner through Prestancia, they have to use McNaughton.
By adding the bike lane along this stretch of road, council could have given our pedal-power commuters a safer stretch of pavement than what is there now.
What should have happened was the addition of the bike lanes, with some parking caveats. These should have included allowing people to park on the north side of McNaughton Avenue between Fergie Jenkins Parkway and University Drive weekday evenings when kids play soccer on the neighbouring athletic field. Losing that parking would leave parents with nowhere to park near the field.
But, for now, there is no need for parked gas-guzzlers to co-exist with cyclists. McNaughton is an important east-west artery in town. Council just thinks that only matters to people ensconced in a drivers’ seat, rather than atop a bicycle.