No new bike lanes this summer in Thunder Bay

CBCCity switches gears into internal systems, rather than infrastructure

By Clare Bonnyman, CBC News Posted: Apr 29, 2016 7:00 AM ET

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Thunder Bay is looking to long term developments for it’s Active Transportation Plan. (Bert Savard/CBC)

For the first summer in years, residents of Thunder Bay, Ont. won’t see new additions to the city’s 40 km of bike lanes.

“This year is a different year,” said Adam Krupper, mobility coordinator for the City of Thunder Bay. “The work we’re doing is really behind the scenes.”

The focus for this summer he said, is investing in long-term strategies to more effectively gather data and reduce the maintenance effort required for bike lanes.

Every spring the roads crew sweeps salt and dirt off of all 40 km of the lanes, and repaint the lines and symbols; a process which can, and often does, take all summer, said Krupper.

This summer Active Transportation Thunder Bay is looking into permanent pavement markings, using a thermo-plastic paint that is melted into fresh asphalt.

The paint is a mixture of glass beads, pigments, binder and filler materials that become liquid when they’re heated.

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Thunder Bay mobility coordinator Adam Krupper said investments will help with the long term maintenance and quality of the city’s biking infrastructure. (Adam Burns/CBC)

They are “much less labour intensive in the long run, and they don’t peel off,” said Krupper. “All they have to do is get washed off in the spring.”

It’s part of their plan to switch from building a larger network of lanes to streamlining the maintenance for that network.

New tools to gather data

The city also plans to gather more usage data for existing bike lanes.

This summer the City is purchasing long term counters that are automated, cutting down on the manpower associated with collecting data manually.

“We don’t have to have a person sitting by the road ticking off a box every time someone comes by, and they allow us to do longer term counts like month long counts,” said Krupper.

He said measuring use over a month is more effective than the usual 12 hour recording period.

“What’ll happen is if it’s cold and rainy that day, the numbers get skewed based on the weather. A longer term count, those types of variances will be captured but we’ll also see longer term trends.”

Even with new technology and plans in place, Krupper said that ongoing education remains top priority for the city to promote road safety for cyclists and motorists.

“Most people who ride a bike also drive, where we find frustration and confusion is when people just aren’t obeying the law,” he said.

For information and maps of Thunder Bay’s bike paths and lanes visit the city’s Active Transportation website.

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