To reroute or not to reroute: that is the question.
Niagara-on-the-Lake’s elected officials have rejected staff plans to change Pedal Pub’s tour path in favour of sticking with its old route, throwing a wrench in the business’ plans to expand its service.
Town council spent 20 minutes discussing a proposed new course for the operation May 16 after staff recommended changing the route for the 2023 season.
The proposed route directed the tour in a circular track, starting from the business’s location at Mary Street, turning left on Mississagua Street, right onto Queen Street, right again on King Street and following Mary Street all the way back to the start.
Instead, council voted 5-3 to keep the current course as-is, with patrons travelling a short distance up Regent Street then backtracking down Queen and Mississauga streets.
Coun. Sandra O’Connor pointed out the proposed new course “almost doubles the road coverage” of the business’s previous route.
She said the cyclists could cause new disruptions along King Street and Mary Street.
“I do not feel the residents’ needs were adequately considered as part of the report,” O’Connor said.
Lord Mayor Gary Zalepa said he favoured the proposed, circular route over the current one, despite O’Connor’s concerns about traffic obstructions.
“We’re gonna have them going on the busiest road through town twice as opposed to going around?” he asked.
Zalepa pointed out the intersection of Mississagua and Queen is one of the busiest in town during the tourism season.
He argued it is “a mistake,” to think the old route is “a better solution” to the traffic issues along NOTL’s busiest streets.
According to a staff report, the changes to Pedal Pub’s route reflect its current business practices.
The tour service currently partners with Fournos Restaurant, Aura on the Lake and Selfie Mode and the new route will allow them to make stops at all three during tours.
In the end, councillors Nick Ruller, Adriana Vizzari and Erwin Wiens voted against the motion to approve the bicycle tour’s new direction. The Lord Mayor was not present for the vote.
“There are a host of potential unintended consequences to rerouting,” said Ruller.
He pointed out that with the proposed route, carriage operators, the heritage shuttle and the Pedal Pub would all be sharing a narrow street with cars that might be trying to overtake the slower vehicles.
Wiens said he wasn’t “getting” the desire to speed up traffic.
“I don’t get why we blame bicycles or pedal pubs or caleches because people want to go fast around them and drive like maniacs,” said Wiens.
Coun. Tim Balasiuk rebutted his statement.
“This isn’t about trying to create an atmosphere where people can speed up and go fast, its more about the inherent dangers of creating obstacles on the road where people feel they need to,” said Balasiuk.