LONDON, ONT. -- A report by City of London staff heading to Civic Works Committee next week is suggesting some drastic changes to Dundas Place.

The biggest change would see the flex street reduced to one lane of traffic that would flow east from Ridout Street to Wellington Street.

Cycling lanes would run on either side of the road with parking and loading zones on the outside. It’s being called a temporary pilot project for this summer's construction season.

“It is, at this point, just a temporary pilot project for council’s consideration. Once we get council's direction to pursue it, certainly the input of all those groups becomes very important,” says Doug MacRae, director of Roads and Transportation with the city.

The project comes, in part, due to construction starting this spring on King Street for the downtown loop of the city's BRT project, which will eliminate the dedicated bike lane there.

Ben Cowie, who sits on the Cycling Advisory Committee, did not mince words after reading the report.

“It kind of looks like it was drawn on the back of an envelope. There isn’t any protection for cyclists in the plan. We all know that paint is not protection, and the plan is going to deliver more cars going faster and more conflict between cyclists and drivers.”

MacRae says this is just a starting point and groups will be consulted before it goes into effect, and even over the course of the project there will be the ability to change course.

“One of the key parts of the current proposal going in front of council would be the evaluation process to see how it’s working. It would obviously be adaptable, so we could adapt when it’s in place for the upcoming year, and learn from that.”

Dundas Place concept

Cowie says the Cycling Advisory Committee hasn’t been asked for input as of yet, but expects it will be discussed during a meeting in March.

He says there are several areas of concern, “In terms of user safety, no cycling planner in the world would design what they put on paper. If I was the engineer who had to put that down on into the public, I’d be a little embarrassed about it.”

According to MacRae, there are many stakeholders that need to weigh in on the plan, and while he would like to see separated bike lanes, they would have to make sure that doesn’t infringe on accessibility issues or business.

“Obviously there’s a lot of tradeoffs. We try to balance the needs of all road users and also the local businesses.” MacRae adds, “We envision some separation, and how that’s done on Dundas Place needs to be carefully considered so we aren’t inhibiting some of the business needs.”

Also in the report, which will go to committee March 2, is a recommendation to change the bylaw surrounding parking on Dundas Place, from a maximum of two hours of paid parking to one hour free parking, to encourage more turnover of vehicles on the flex street.