City unveils long-term active transportation plan
The city unveiled the draft of an ambitious, multimillion-dollar plan to build infrastructure for active transportation across the city.
The Active Transportation Master Plan — dubbed Walk ‘n’ Roll Kingston — has been in development for about 18 months with the long-term goal of having one in five trips within the city be by foot, bike or some other active means, by the year 2034.
“The plan, at its heart, is all about creating a comprehensive active transportation network for the city,” Ian Semple, the city’s director of transportation services, said. “That’s how people are walking, rolling and cycling across the city, both at the neighbourhood level, travelling to schools and community centres, but also how they may commute to work to travel longer distances.”
The draft plan calls for the construction of a network of lanes, paths and routes across the city at an estimated cost of more than $127 million over the next 20 years.
“That is a number that provides a long-term cost estimate,” Semple said. “It’s important that we have a sense of what this is so that council can appreciate the magnitude of what they are looking at and the network that is being considered.”
The network of active transportation routes could include sections that range from shared roadways, roadways marked with “sharrows” or painted lines separating the bike lane from the vehicle lanes, buffered bike lanes, raised cycle tracks and separated boulevard multiuse paths, as well as infrastruture and programs for pedestrian and cycling safety.
Semple noted that Kingston annually receives about $1.3 million from the province’s municipal commuter cycling fund, and a portion of the $78 million announced March by the federal and provincial governments for Kingston Transit could be directed to developing routes riders could use to get to transit.
Funding the cycling network may be just one of the challenges facing the plan.
The addition of lanes for cycling will likely involve removing automobile lanes.
“You would see over time changes on the roads, changes on the street,” Semple said. “You would start to see separated bike lanes, new trails that would be built to allow cyclists and pedestrians to co-exist and to travel along.
“This is about looking at how we are using the space we have available to travel in, for all modes — pedestrian, cyclists, transit and vehicles,” Semple said. “Does it involve reconfiguration of those lanes? Yes. But the recommendations we made consider the entire right of ways that we have available to us, so it’s not necessarily about taking travel lanes away. It’s using those boulevard spaces in a way that allows all of those modes to co-exist.”
There are a pair of public meetings about the draft plan are scheduled for Wednesday at Invista Centre and Monday, May 14, at the Portsmouth Olympic Harbour.