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Councillor suggests pumping the brakes on Sixth St. plans

Local cycling advocate proposes alternate street design, saying current plans do ‘not align with best practices’
An alternate design proposal for the Sixth St. reconstruction project was put forward this week by cycling advocate Justin Jones.

This week, the council gallery was packed with residents who attended the Sept. 25 council meeting in solidarity with local cycling advocate Justin Jones, who deputed to ask the town to reconsider its plans for Sixth St. reconstruction.

Coun. Deb Doherty agreed, bringing forward a notice of motion at the end of the meeting calling on town staff to reconsider their plans.

The 1.3-kilometre stretch of Sixth Street between Hurontario and High Streets is due for watermain replacement to improve water supply and pressure to the western side of Collingwood via the Stewart Road Pump Station, and while the town is making those necessary repairs, it’s considering whether the streetscape as it exists now is the best route forward as the town explodes with growth.

Currently, a cross-section of the road includes two 3.3-metre vehicular lanes, two 1.5-metre painted, but not signed, bike lanes and 1.5 metres of sidewalk on the north side only.

A rendering of the streetscape design for Sixth Street reconstruction in Collingwood. Image via Streetscape

There were five new designs for the street considered by staff for implementation for the project, however staff settled on an option that would see two 3.5-metre vehicle lanes, a 1.5-metre sidewalk on the north side and a three-metre multi-use bicycle trail with both east and west lanes located on the south side of the road.

“This does not align with best practices. It creates conflict between active transportation users and it introduces significant additional risk at intersections,” said Jones during Monday’s meeting.

“The Sixth Street corridor is very important for cycling movement,” he said.

Safety concerns have been raised specifically about the town’s plans to include a two-way bike lane/multi-use trail in the design, by both Jones and the town’s trails and active transportation advisory committee.

Jones referenced the Ministry of Transport of Quebec coming out in 2008 advising against building such facilities citing evidence of higher crash rates for such infrastructure.

“Two-way operations on two-way streets with high numbers of driveways are not recommended by any design guide,” said Jones.

The trails and active transportation committee passed a motion at their Sept. 14 meeting calling on the town to gather a peer review of their plans for the Sixth St. reconstruction before proceeding.

“Our preference is clearly for the cycle track option over the multi-use trail option,” said chair Murray Knowles during that meeting.

As part of his presentation, Jones put forward an alternate design that included a 1.5-metre sidewalk on the north side, a three-metre grass buffer, two 3.3-metre drive lanes and two 1.8-metre cycle track lanes, one on each side of the street and both raised.

During council discussion, Doherty noted she attended the Ontario Bike Summit earlier this year.

“I can attest that the recommendations made in this presentation are best practice,” she said. “I’m very supportive of the notion of, at minimum, asking our staff to review the Sixth St. corridor and this proposal.”

At the end of Monday’s meeting, Doherty put forward a notice of motion asking staff to undertake a review of the proposed Sixth St. reconstruction project while evaluating alternative design proposals – including the proposal by Jones – to make sure the project follows best practices.

Council will consider the motion at their next meeting on Oct. 3.

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Jessica Owen

About the Author: Jessica Owen

Jessica Owen is an experienced journalist working for Village Media since 2018, primarily covering Collingwood and education.
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