Just two months after opening, the King Street bike lane is being targeted for removal by Councillor Steve Hillier.
"We have to admit; we did make a mistake and now is the time to stop it.”
Hillier believes the protected lane needs to go, and curbside street parking and loading zones be reinstated as soon as possible.
He's sent a letter to his council colleagues seeking support to reverse course, "I think we should be removing the temporary bike lane early. I do not want to go through all this construction and then leave downtown London a ghost town.”
The temporary bike lane will eventually be replaced by a Bus Rapid Transit lane.
It was city hall's response to concern about cyclist safety after bus stops were moved from Dundas Street to Queens Avenue and King Street.
Suki Bal of Suki Salon says the loss of street parking has hurt, "This bicycle lane is very inconvenient. Most of our clients are circling around looking for parking.”
But cyclist Matthew Antone is perplexed why anyone would want to remove the safest part of his route to work, "It’s new and they want to remove it, that's kind of ridiculous.”
During the design phase, city engineers said about $115-thousand worth of materials would eventually be reused, including planters and signage.
Removing the lane now would see council walk away from the remaining $465-thousand spent on the lane. They would also have to pay to remove transit islands and reinstall parking meters.
Daniel Hall, the executive director of London Cycle Link, says two months during the height of construction season is insufficient time for council to evaluate the protected bike lane.
"This is an investment in helping shift people's travel behaviour, and we need to let that investment play out. We can't just pull the plug."
But Hillier warns the costs related to keeping the lane are even higher, “How much will it cost us to put people in all these stores again. If we start losing all of our good quality tenants like Jill's Table, Abruzzi, if we start losing some of them, how do we replace them?”
In March, the bike lane project proceeded after city council defeated a motion to delay construction by a vote of seven to eight.
Reconsideration would require two-thirds of council – 10 votes – to support removal.
The motion would also have to be put forward by a councillor who has changed their mind.
Hillier hopes a motion will come forward at the next Civic Works Committee meeting on Aug. 12.
“I cannot make the motion myself but I hope someone on the other side will see the light and possibly make the motion.”