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Cobourg council supports biking but hedges at cost

CECILIA NASMITH Northumberland Today

COBOURG - A healthier population, increased tourism potential, less-polluted air, less-congested roadways, less need for parking - it's not hard to make a case for the Town of Cobourg to encourage bicycling.

At a presentation to council this week, members of the Bicycle Action Committee also made a case for requesting about $15,000 of the town's money to continue to make the town a more bicycling-friendly community.

Following last year's budget-time request, the committee saw lanes painted, signs posted and biking infrastructure improved.

"The number of people who are cycling in town, from an observational point of view, has increased significantly," Rick Nonnekes guessed.

Bruce Bellaire listed the specific requests for the town to consider during its 2012 budget deliberations:

- Twenty-five more share-the-road signs at $1,000.

- Eight more kilometres of painted bike lanes along University Avenue, D'Arcy Street and Ontario Street at $1,600.

- Ninety-six new sharrows to be painted on those same streets as well as on King Street (both to guide cyclists and to warn motorists that bikers might be sharing the roadway) at $2,650.

- Twenty-five new ring-and-post bike-parking poles at $9,000.

- The setting-aside of an as-yet-undetermined amount to go toward an active-transportation master-plan study.

Nonnekes also requested a similar amount for the years 2013 and 2014 - $9,000 each year for additional biking infrastructure and $6,000 each year toward implementing recommendations in the active-transportation master-plan study.

Bellaire pointed out that the work the town has done so far is gaining rave reviews both from local cyclists and from those who come to town for the pursuit.

"We hope to continue to work with town council and staff to make Cobourg stand out as a cycling town," he said.

"The work we did last year, I think, has been extremely successful, as biking is visibly much more prevalent than it has been in recent years," Deputy Mayor Stan Frost agreed.

"However, the world financial markets are in turmoil. It is my job to keep the Good Ship Cobourg on an even keel - but we also want to make progress."

"Creative ways happen when you drop a zero off your budget," Councillor Miriam Mutton remarked.

Mutton also suggested some of the funding for the study they wanted might come from gas-tax rebates.

Council voted to refer the requests to budget deliberations.

Council also heard a presentation from Nonnekes and Petra Hartwig regarding a proposal for a multi-use trail along the Kerr Street road allowance that can be an adjunct to the eventual roadway that is planned. This matter will be referred to staff for a report.