The installation of “bicycle bollards” on a stretch of Four Mile Creek Road in St. Davids caught everyone – including the mayor – by surprise.
The flexible plastic pylons are part of a Region of Niagara pilot project and were installed on Thursday, Sept. 8, without warning, neighbours said.
The project is about cyclist safety, a regional official says.
“The primary intention of installing bicycle bollards is to provide a physical separation between motorists and cyclists to reduce the risk of exposure and improve safety,” Carolyn Ryall, director of transportation services for the Region of Niagara, said in an email to The Lake Report.
The pilot program will be in effect for up to two months. The region plans to remove them in October or November before the winter season.
The bollards are on a stretch of road near the Grist restaurant, where the region also installed no parking signs on both sides of the road.
When the posts were installed, many residents had no idea what they were for – or why.
“It’d be nice if the region provided an explanation for the rationale behind it,” said St. Davids resident Peter Rusin.
He wasn’t sure if it was to reduce speed, or to prevent vehicles from passing each other. The region never sent out any notices.
Rusin is worried about the safety of drivers and cyclists. The placement of the bollards doesn’t leave any room for cars to move over in case of a larger, oncoming vehicle.
“Those are standard-size lanes and that’s a regional arterial road so there’s no real escape if a transport (truck) is coming,” he said.
If you’re going to do something where you restrict the lanes, you have to make them wider, he said.
He added that a solution would be to push them out a few more feet to allow vehicles to have more room.
Four Mile Creek was one of three areas in the region targeted for the bollard pilot project.
Before the installation, the region implemented traffic calming efforts after consulting with the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, police and residents who had speeding and safety concerns.
“Check speed” markings were painted on the road, a speed trailer that digitally displays the speed of vehicles was added and there has been an increased police presence in the area.
Ryall said the town participated in previous meetings regarding the pilot program for the area.
“There was a telephone meeting with a couple of the residents on Four Mile Creek and they were looking at different ways to slow down the traffic,” said Lord Mayor Betty Disero.
She knew that the region discussed installing the bollards, but she didn’t know it was happening for sure. She’s surprised the region didn’t provide a little bit more input.
“It concerns me that if an emergency vehicle has to go through, where do people pull over?” she said.
Ryall said the bollards are far enough apart that vehicles can safely pull over onto the shoulder without damaging the bollards or their vehicles, as per the requirements of the Ontario Traffic Manual for cycling facilities.
Disero is also concerned about the tight space, particularly if bigger vehicles like tractors pass through.
The cost of the materials totalled roughly $12,000 and installation was done by regional workers, Ryall said.
The bollards can be reused in the future after the pilot program is completed.
Pending the assessment, Four Mile Creek along with other locations could undergo an extension of the pilot, said Ryan. The region aims for that to begin in spring 2023.
Rusin thinks the region could do a better job communicating.
“Be respectful to the people (and) just tell people what you’re doing,” he said.