First and foremost, I am thrilled Niagara-on-the-Lake is attracting throngs of tourists and that bike rental companies are thriving because of this.
I am more than happy to see many folks enjoying a healthy activity while enjoying our town and I welcome their tourist dollars here. We can coexist happily and without incident.
But, I live in St. Andrews Glen, across the road from the NOTL Community Centre, library, the newly planned and expanded day care facility and the firehall, which are located on Anderson Lane at Niagara Stone Road.
For St. Andrews Glen residents, the only exit is from Balmoral Drive. Now we face many cyclists out for a pleasure ride and often travelling in groups.
These folks (many without helmets) seem blissfully unaware of the dangers while exiting town, and travelling on the same side of the road as the Old Winery restaurant. They often ride in large groups.
According to the Region of Niagara, there is a legally mandated bike path on this side of the road. But it is woefully narrow and becomes non-existent as the road approaches the Old Winery.
The gravel on the right side at this point is an accident waiting to happen. Cars are now travelling upward or over 70 km/h and passing these cyclists. At the restaurant, in the dip of the road, there is an obvious barricade on the opposite side for those attempting to cross over to safety and access the path on that side of the road.
I have addressed my concerns regarding many of the safety issues in this part of Niagara Stone Road to the Region of Niagara, several times over four years, to no avail.
A stop light suggestion, which would eliminate many problems at the very busy intersection of Anderson / Balmoral / Niagara Stone Road, has been ignored and flatly denied as a challenge to traffic flow. Hmmm.
No clearly painted “cycle” symbols on the road or shared path are evident and do not appear to be in the plans. A directional arrow sign or symbol on the pavement ahead of the Balmoral intersection sending the cyclists across the road is the very least we can do, if this intersection is not in the plans for a serious traffic-calming solution.
We, as a community, need to welcome these tourists and make them feel more comfortable in their activity, as other communities (like Toronto does along on the lakeshore) with highly visible signs and painted cycle symbols on the pavement of highly travelled roads. Paint is inexpensive and can be refreshed annually.
What will it take to get the town and region to address this particular concern that many share with me? Another injury or even worse, another Niagara-on-the-Lake fatality?
Mary Gallagher Birkholz