Bike lanes are coming to Scarborough, slowly but surely.
That’s the message Glenn De Baeremaeker has for those concerned about the lack of bike-friendly routes in the city’s east end.
“It doesn’t take much money to paint a line down a road, but to plan a bike lane you need to consult with the neighbours and the businesses,” said De Baeremaeker, the Scarborough Centre councillor. “You need to look at every intersection to make sure it’s safe.”
The city is way behind on its Bike Plan, a 10-year project started in 2001 aiming to create a more bicycle friendly city. A target completion date of 2011 is beginning to appear more and more unlikely, the councillor said.
“My honest answer is, it’s very likely not feasible. It’s so ambitious, it’s so radical that we may not meet it,” De Baeremaeker said.
“I want to meet it, but it’s just physically whether we can do that much work since we’re behind schedule,” adding the biggest challenge is that the city is on the verge of financial bankruptcy.
The goal set for this year under the Bike Plan was to build 30 km of bike lanes but the city is not even half way there.
“If we don’t meet it this year, we’ll finish it next spring when the snow melts and do another 50 km as well,” De Baeremaeker said.
Ellesmere Road will be among the first to benefit from the renewed push as a stretch between Brimley Road and Scarborough Golf Club Road will have bike lanes added when the city repaves it.
A major delay in the implementation of the plan has been the number of municipal employees assigned to the project, the councillor believes. There will be four staff members working on the city’s bike plan as of Jan. 1, but there was only one before.
“You had one person in charge of every bike lane for 2.6 million people. It was physically impossible for him to do the work because it was a lower priority,” De Baeremaeker said.
“The bike was seen by the enemy [as] driven by hippies and malcontents. Now the view on this council is people riding bikes are doctors, lawyers and plain old folks who are freeing up space on the roads for cars.”