Lindsay has some well-loved trails that provide recreational opportunities for walkers and bicyclists. But when it comes to getting around town, cars — well, cars, pick-up trucks, SUVs, vans and motorcycles — rule.
While many Ontario communities are embracing pedestrian-first practices and creating infrastructure for cycling, the town of Lindsay remains car-centric, designed for and dominated by vehicles.
Consider these 10 facts:
- Speed limits in town are 50 kph (the provincial default). We think of Toronto as thronged with speeding traffic, but on a number of residential streets in Toronto and East York the posted limit is 30 kph. Toronto mayoral candidate Jennifer Keesmaat campaigned on a pledge to push for 30km/h for all residential streets.
- Speeding offences have increased. In 2017 local police issued 706 tickets. In 2018 they had issued 742 by mid-October. Speeding cars are a disincentive and danger for pedestrians and cyclists. And it’s worth pointing out, as Andre Picard did in a Globe and Mail article, that “Unintentional injuries – almost all of them preventable – are the No. 1 killer of children and youth, with motor vehicles posing the greatest risk.”
- Approximately 200 “Slow Down/ Children at Play” signs have been sold in the year since Megan Ward-Pickett and her brothers started a campaign, supported by Home Hardware owner Chad Broad. At the corner of Mary and Lindsay streets, Rick Harding has posted his own, “Slow Down, Hippies at Play” sign.
- There are virtually no traffic calming features on Lindsay streets. As an experiment, a temporary speed bump was installed on Victoria Avenue, north of Colborne in 2015, but the experiment concluded in 2016 and nothing has been installed since.
- Cars, pickup trucks, SUVs, and other vehicles far outnumber walkers and cyclists. Pick your own spot to determine the validity of this statement. As an experiment, I stood at the corner of Albert and Wellington from 9 am to 10 am on a weekday morning. The results: a total of 224 vehicles passing through the intersection. This included 104 cars, 54 SUVs, 33 pickup trucks, 28 vans, two trucks and three school buses. In the same hour there were 15 pedestrians. Eight of these were students (Central Senior school zone begins 20 metres from the intersection). There were three cyclists. Two of them were riding on the sidewalks (a common practice and understandable, given the absence of bike lanes).
- In the downtown area (the area bordered by Victoria, Peel, Lindsay and Russell) there are roughly 600 parking spaces for cars and seven parking lots. In the same area there are 27 spots for locking up bikes. Pedestrians need “parking” spaces, too. In that downtown area there are a total of 27 benches (five of them in front of the library and six in the covered bus shelters on Victoria St. S.)
- Vehicles can produce a lot of noise. This is a problem in many communities, and some are taking action. According to a Toronto Star report, Toronto Mayor John Tory has requested that the city’s licensing and standards chief look at excessive noise from cars and motorcycles in a review of Toronto’s noise bylaw. He’s quoted as saying “It is disturbing people in their homes, during the day and at night, it is disrupting business and it is having a negative impact on tourists, all in the apparent cause of feeding the egos of inconsiderate people.” What he’s describing is a situation familiar to many Lindsay residents. There are both municipal bylaws and provincial Highway Traffic Act regulations to address noise issues. The City of Kawartha Lakes municipal noise bylaw, for example, prohibits “Operation of a combustion engine…without an effective exhaust muffling device that is in good working order.” The provincial regulation has more specific restrictions: “no person shall use a muffler cut-out, straight exhaust, gutted muffler, Hollywood muffler, by-pass or similar device upon a motor vehicle or motor assisted bicycle.” The number of Provincial Offence Notices issued by Kawartha Lakes Police Service for no or improper muffler increased from one in 2017 to 13 in 2018 (by mid-October).
- Altogether our town has 0.3 km of bike lane. (If you’re wondering, the bike lane is on Victoria St. S., and runs from Durham St. to Russell. The painted symbols are fading, so you may not have noticed it.)
- Both Fenelon Falls and Bobcaygeon now have bike share programs and next spring four bike corrals for parking bikes and public bike repair units will be installed in Bobcaygeon. Lindsay has no bike share program, nor any bike corrals.
- Traffic lights advantage and prioritize cars over pedestrians. The phasing of lights varies, but to take one example, at the busy corner of Kent and Cambridge Streets, drivers travelling along Kent have a 30 second green light before a very short (two second) yellow. Pedestrians have a 15 second walk signal before the red hand begins to flash.
–Coming Next: Ten Benefits of “Active Transportation” (promoting and facilitating walking and cycling), to be followed by Ten Ways to Make the Change.