These are the letters/correspondence we have issued, with a brief explanation as to why.
Letter of introduction to local Durham Region political leadership. (the list of recipients is available upon request)
401 Bridges for cyclists in Durham Region
Attached is our DRCC letter to Lorne Coe, MPP, on January 18th, 2017, requesting his support for improvements by MTO to the new Henry Street Bridge redevelopment in the Town of Whitby. We are very pleased that MPP Coe has supported our concern, with a letter to the MTO Minister which can be found here.
407, 412 and 418 Bridges for cyclists in Durham Region
Of major concern to the DRCC, is the construction of the new Hwy 407, 412 and soon to be built, 418 toll highways in the Durham Region and their impact on cycling now and in the future. As local cyclists know, the existing Hwy 401 effectively blocks many cyclists from safely going south to the the lake front. Very few safe routes exist past the Hwy 401. With the new provincial MTO Cycling Strategy, we were hopeful that the new routes past the 407 ETR to the north, the new 412 ETR between Ajax/Whitby and the soon to be built 418 ETR between Oshawa/Clarington would be better.
When the first of the cycle friendly route bridges was opened in July 2015 at Ashburn Road in Whitby, we soon realized they were not meeting a bike friendly or safe standard set by the MTO Cycling strategy in 2013. They had little to no paved shoulders on the bridge approaches (see photo below).
So we issued our 1st letter to Minister of Transportation on July 25, 2015, asking why?
Then we waited… knowing that time was critical if the rest of the bridges could be corrected before construction was completed in 407 ETR Phase 1 or phase 2. However no quick reply came, so we issued a second letter on September 19, 2015.
Then we received a reply from The Honourable Steven Del Duca, Minister of Transportation.
The DRCC is NOT satisfied with the Status quo and we are still on the case and have issued a follow up letter on November 6th, 2015 to The Honourable Steven Del Duca, Minister of Transportation.
On January 16th, 2016 a few local cyclists from the DRCC had a rare opportunity to discuss face-to-face our Hwy 407, 412, 418 and future 401 widening concerns with the Minister of Transportation, Steven Del Duca. This was arranged by Regional councillor Elizabeth Roy, after she heard DRCC concerns expressed at a Regional committee meeting, on the 14th. The DRCC promised to send the Minister some follow up correspondence regarding Hwy 407 ETR East projects in Phase 2, Phase 1 and future 401 widening. Attached is that letter to all local MPP’s, mayors and Minister of Transportation, dated Feb 1st, 2016.
On January 18th, 2016 we received a letter of support from local Oshawa MPP Jennifer French, regarding DRCC concerns over safe cycling getting past the new Hwy 407, 412 and 418 bridges. The DRCC is very appreciative of this local MPP support.
We had a meeting on March 9th, 2016, with 407 EAST ETR project staff/MTO staff to discuss our Durham Region safe cycling concerns and the details of letter of 1st of Feb to the MTO Minister. However, no commitments were provided, but we were offered a followup meeting, which is scheduled for May 11th, 2016.
On the 1st of April 2016, two local Mayors in Whitby and Ajax, plus the Regional Chair got involved and issued a letter to the MTO Minister. See attached here.
- On the 16th of June, 2016 these local mayors received a response from the MTO Minister here. The NOT yet built section 407 Phase 2 and 418 bridges appear to getting some attention (note – compare MTO list of bridges in this letter to our list on DRCC letter of Feb 1st, 2016 & May 11th, 2016 ). However #407/412 phase 1 is getting no further improvements.
- Several very frustrating statements are included in this letter;
- Who rides a bicycle on Brock R and Lakeridge which the letter indicates?
- Many local cyclists commented at the EA and at the 407 open house stage, prior to construction, but that input was ignored by MTO. We also understand, local municipalities and the region cycling plans were submitted prior to construction, but clearly were ignored by MTO (sample – Taunton at #412 is clearly on the regional cycling network map from 2010). And now the existing multi purpose trails on Taunton in Ajax and Whitby are stranded on both sides of #412. Sad!!!
- The letter indicates, use NEW money (CycleON and Climate change) to fix what was just built. Anyone with a Eng/Construction/Project background knows that is a big waste of tax payers money – it simply should have been incorporated initially. The cost of retrofitting is crazy expensive and worse, will likely never be completed because of these huge costs.
- The letter suggests local municipalities now correct by adding side walks, cycling lanes. However the new bridges simple were built without enough room to add them afterwards (sample – Taunton at 412).
- Several very frustrating statements are included in this letter;
Again, on the 21st of April 2016, the Mayor of Oshawa added his voice, at the urging of local cyclist, by also issuing a letter to the MTO Minister. See attached here.
in the mean time, construction continues without any commitments for improvements being made by the Province or any improvements for safer cycling infrastructure being seen at the various Hwy # 407/412 construction sites. As quoted on a May 5th, 2016 email from the Mayor of Ajax to several MPP’s on this topic “This is a matter of connectivity and safety; literally lives are at stake” , “This is a matter of extreme time sensitivity” and we at the DRCC could not agree more. And we at the DRCC thank all the political leaders, who have stepped up regarding this long term safety and time sensitive active transportation issue.
On May 11th, we sat down again with MTO 407 Project staff, but unfortunately just Phase 2 staff were in attendance. We did not receive any updates regarding 407 Phase 1, which is unfortunate as doing it correct and safe in the first place, will save big $$’s rather than fixing it later after someone is hurt…or worse. They were aware of the above noted letters (we offer copies, they said they had them). The good news, MTO 407 Project Phase 2 staff gave the DRCC a counter proposal to our MTO minister letter of Feb 01, 2016 noted above (Phase 2 portion). After much discussion after this MTO meeting, the DRCC issued this letter.
On August 16th, 2016 the DRCC issues this appeal to local Mayors, regarding the upcoming AMO conference.
The DRCC is working with the Town of Ajax on catch basin design – discussion with other municipalities in the region will follow.
Interesting newspaper article regarding a major cycle tourism route – Ashburn Rd north of Whitby town line road. NOTE this is the #GreenBelt route in Durham and is on the Durham Cycling route maps shown below.
in Spring of 2015
In early summer 2015
In the early fall of 2015, oil/gravel was added, but note the very loose gravel on shoulders making it difficult (& dangerous) for cycling on, according to local cyclist. This road construction technique requires cars to drive over road surface to pound in loose gravel (it is not “pavement”). Loose, unpacked gravel remains on the side of road in late 2015 where cyclists are expected to ride. With such loose gravel, cyclists are forced to ride in wheel tracks in the middle of the road lane. NOTE this is the #GreenBelt route in Durham and is on the Durham Cycling route maps.
UPDATE #1; We had a very interesting discussion with the Mayor of Scugog at our 14th of January, 2016 presentation for the Regional leadership (see presentations). Where the Mayor indicated the final product of road surfacing work was NOT completed on Ashburn road in 2015 and that the completion of the work, which includes making it safer for cyclists will be completed in 2016. We are now hopeful and will be following the progress of this key cycling road closely.
UPDATE #2; In May 2016 a few club riders rode on Ashburn Road, North of Whitby/Scugog town line road (Coates Rd) and found the new surface very ride-able. Unfortunately, still no road into Port Perry that is safe or ride able (Example – Reach Rd, Scugog 4th or 6th line). But thanks for a safer ride route to Uxbridge!
The DRCC in November 2015 met with Pickering staff and offered our support to help update Pickering’s 1996 Cycling Plan. Attached is the report we provided. We also presented to Pickering council in April 11th, 2016, see in presentation section. We are currently working with a few town staff and a councillor regarding plans to update Pickering’s old 1996 cycling plan. DRCC members sat down twice with a few City of Pickering Staff and an elected officials in 2017, to make a few cycling suggestions for improvements in the City. We also encouraged the city to create of an Active Transportation Committee of local cyclists and other active residence.
We also have others in the Durham Region cycling community asking for better and safer cycling routes. Here are a few documented requests from Jim B, of Clarington’s Bike Friendly a cycling advocacy group and also a member of the DRCC.
- To MTO regarding safer cycling at Courtice Road and the 401.
- To Durham Regional Staff and local political leaders, regarding some improvements for safer cycling routes.
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More coming soon