The fate of the unconnected bike lanes in Ward 35 worries 77-year-old Bill McDonald.
So the retired firefighter took his concerns to the candidates at the Ward 35 councillors debate at the West Scarborough Community Centre last night.
Scarborough Southwest became the home of two stand-alone bike lanes on Pharmacy Avenue and Birchmount Road last year. The reduction of space allotted for cars and the lack of connectivity to other bike lanes angered motorists and cyclists in the area.
McDonald asked the candidates what they could do as mayor to get council on board and link the bike lanes to the network.
“In January of 2008 councillor for Ward 35 approved in community council and full city council, bike lanes on Danforth Avenue from Victoria Park to Warden Avenue, are you all aware the councillor may be prevented from doing so?” McDonald asked. The question prompted moderators to silence the concerned resident.
Incumbent and chair for the Cyclists Advisory committee Adrian Heaps said the bike lanes to nowhere were a result of the previous councillor.
“I took over in 2007 and the idea was to join up the network. When I came in, I inherited a number of bike lanes that had already been approved in 2001 by the previous councillor plus other people,” Heaps said.
Candidate Michelle Berardinetti dismissed her rival’s idea of bike lane expansion. She said the construction of bike lanes has prompted residents to move out of the ward. “Bike lanes are not a priority for this ward,” Berardinetti said. “I’ve spoken to people that lived on Pharmacy and have moved away because they cannot get out of their own driveway.”
Heaps pledged to connect the bike lanes to a city-wide network by erecting bike lanes on Danforth Avenue before any more stand-alone lanes are approved.
“I’m 100 per cent committed to the bike plan when it joins up A to B to C to D. Since those lanes went in, we have actually stopped, when I had the authority and became chair, to make sure no other bike lanes go in suburban areas at this time.”
Berardinetti promised to remove the bike lanes completely and find other alternatives to roads shared by cyclists and drivers.
“If elected, I would be getting a study done and a proposal and try to remove the bike lanes,” Berardinetti said. “Also to find proper bike linkages that actually do match up and link to the bike-way through hydro corridors. There’s ravines, there’s safe bike paths that can be created but not on Pharmacy and Birchmount.”
Candidates Ed Green and Malik Ahmad also attended the debate. Only four of the 10 candidates participated.