Belleville’s moving ahead with a west-east bike lane despite some opposition and after hearing about the health benefits that could save money.
Cyclists packed the council chambers as council prepared to consider the plan to have bike lanes on Bridge Street between Church Street and Haig Road.
Councillors indicated they had been lobbied by citizens both for and against the plan.
Councillor Egerton Boyce said bike lanes are much safer than doing nothing, and it “frustrates” him that people don’t see it as useful, not just for leisure.
Bridge Street resident Eric Baragar spoke to council opposing the plan, saying there is “overwhelming opposition” to it by residents, and pointing to large vehicles using the street which he said would be a hazard for cyclists.
A recent Hastings Prince Edward Health Unit survey indicates that cycling reduces millions of dollars in health care costs.
Health promoter Tanya Hill presented a long list of statistics to city council last night showing the Bridge Street bike lanes could reduce the cost of health care by nearly $2 million over 10 years.
Hill said a recent survey showed a demand for improvement for cycling both on Bridge Street and North Park Street and that 97% of cyclists surveyed support bike lanes on Bridge St. E.
The report estimated that there were nearly 51,000 cycling trips on Bridge St E. in 2016.
The Health Economic Assessment found that increased cycling on Bridge St. could result in between $852,000 and $1.7 million in accumulated health benefits due to reduced mortality over a 10 year period.
Hill said every $1 invested in infrastructure on Bridge St. could result in between $2.78 to $5.56 in health benefits.
She praised the city’s work “in building a cycling friendly community” and pointed to a number of events during bike month, including a Bike to Work breakfast beginning at 6:30 a.m. on May 29.
City staff indicated the street is wide enough for the lanes. Council voted unanimously for the project which will go ahead this year along with lanes on Adam Street and College street East.