Paved bicycle lanes on both sides of Cockshutt Road heading into Port Dover will be installed sometime this year.
Norfolk council selected this option on March 9 due to considerations of public safety and cost containment. Half of council favoured a more expensive sidewalk with curb and gutter but that was defeated in a 4-4 vote.
The bike lanes will be installed along the busy highway between Dover Mills Road and Ryerse Crescent. Port Dover Coun. Amy Martin, who resides in a nearby subdivision, went to bat for the sidewalk, saying it was the safest alternative. She cited correspondence from dozens of residents who prefer this option.
“We have a lot of emails coming in,” Martin said during council’s teleconference Tuesday. “Only one doesn’t ask for some kind of paved walkway out there. I’d like to do this once and do it properly.”
Charlotteville Coun. Chris VanPaassen countered that bike lanes – aside from being less expensive – were the safer alternative. Build a sidewalk, Van Paassen said, and the county forces cyclists onto the Cockshutt and potentially into the path of oncoming traffic.
“It’s going to create a more dangerous situation,” VanPaassen said. “You can’t ride your bicycle on the sidewalk. That’s contrary to the Highway Traffic Act. So you’re forcing cyclists into a lane of traffic.”
A significant number of new homes have been built in subdivisions along Cockshutt Road south of St. John’s Road East over the past 20 years. Residents say they feel cut off from Port Dover by virtue of the fact that pedestrian access to the core consists of gravel shoulders on the Cockshutt and along Dover Mills Road.
Safety has been top-of-mind in this part of the community since a Norfolk man – Chad Everets, 20 – was killed in May 2011 in a hit-and-run incident as he walked along the Cockshutt near St. John’s Road East. The circumstances surrounding Everets’ death are unresolved and the OPP file on the incident remains active.
Cost was a significant factor in council’s decision. In a report to council, county engineer Mike King said a 450-metre sidewalk along the Cockshutt – one side only – would cost about $170,000. Engineering and other preparatory work would occur this year, with installation taking place in 2022.
By comparison, paved bicycle lanes on both sides of the Cockshutt will cost about $70,000. The pay-off is also immediate. Jason Godby, Norfolk’s interim general manager of public works, said the lanes can be bundled into a road-maintenance project this summer.
For her part, Mayor Kristal Chopp said the situation might be different if the county were flush with cash. She reminded council that Norfolk is grappling with difficult financial challenges.
“There are a lot of things we could do in a perfect world,” Chopp said. “We would have bike lanes and paved shoulders all over the place.”
The bike-lane option includes the installation of five new streetlights to enhance pedestrian visibility at night.
A second alternative route into the core involves the installation of a 250-metre sidewalk on Dover Mills Road between Cockshutt Road and Prospect Street. The estimated cost is $250,000.
Staff suggested deferring this option. King says there is the possibility of additional residential construction in the area in the near future that could include the installation of a sidewalk on Dover Mills Road at the developer’s expense.