Sidewalk Priority Plan

Last summer, there was considerable debate in Council about a sidewalk on Abbott Boulevard.  In the end, Council called for Priority Ranking Guidelines and that a Policy based on these should be produced.  In probably his last memo to council before he retires, Director of Works Barry Thrasher has now provided a priority list and described the basis for this.  The starting point is the official Plan which says that all collector and arterial roads (will) eventually have sidewalks on both sides of the street and local streets (will) have sidewalks on one side.  The new list is estimated to cost over $2.6M to build and as the usual budget for sidewalk construction is around $100k these will take 27 years to complete.  If the new ranking is followed, Abbott Boulevard will get a sidewalk 3 years from now.

Abbott Blvd - from Google Maps
Abbott Blvd – from Google Maps

Although Barry wrote the cover memo, the actual analysis and the “Sidewalk Priority Plan” was produced by the Deputy Director Laurie Wills who will become Director when Barry retires at the end of April.

The methodology that Laurie uses is complex and takes into account:

  • Whether there is already a sidewalk on a street – streets with no sidewalk at all get priority over those which do have one.  Partial sidewalks make it more complicated.
  • The volume of traffic which is judged on classification. Arterial roads are the highest priority, followed by Collector, and then Local roads.
  • Proximity to:
    • Schools
    • Major Pedestrian Generators/Destinations i.e. Hospital, library, YMCA, shopping, employment areas, downtown, etc.
    • Transit Stops
    • Parks
    • Local roads that intersect with arterial or collector roads
    • Medical clinics, nursing homes, dental offices etc. are NOT included since they are not in the Town’s GIS data base

Various buffer distances are incorporated into these criteria

There are some exclusions:

  • Local roads that already have a sidewalk on one side.
  • All roads that do not have curb and gutter.
  • Dead end streets or cul-de-sacs.
  • Special circumstances e.g. Furnace Street – see full report in link below for details.

The criteria were then weighted and a table produced (see full report in link below).

If this plan is followed, in the first four years the streets likely to have sidewalks built are:

  1. Northwood Drive from Westwood to Carlisle  & Spencer Street East from John to Ryerson Commons
  2. Lakeshore Drive – D’Arcy to Bayview & Bayview to Abbott
  3. Abbott Boulevard – Lakeshore to Coronation & Coronation to King & Coronation South to Coronation North
  4. D’Arcy Street – Elgin to Nickerson

The Sidewalk Priority Plan also includes standards for sidewalks and specifies widths, setbacks,  policies about existing driveways and walkways, and that sidewalks are “not to be constructed around trees with the exception of any trees that are designated to be preserved by the Town Arborist.”

Implementation – Laurie comments:

The top priorities will be physically assessed in the fall of the preceding year to determine any constraints or extenuating circumstances that are unique and particular to the street that may otherwise change its priority e.g. a street that is slated for reconstruction in the near future as part of the Town’s Asset Management Plan would be deferred until that time. An annual report to Council will be prepared to document the results of the assessment in support of the next priority sidewalk.

She concludes with:

The next steps will be for the Town to develop an official policy for the implementation of new sidewalks in the Town of Cobourg, based on the subject Sidewalk Priority Plan.

This Plan is on the Agenda for approval at the Council’s Committee of the Whole meeting on April 23.  There is $100,000 approved in the 2018 Capital budget so hopefully Northwood Drive and Spencer Street East will see new sidewalks this year.

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Uncle Buck

Dear Kevin and anti-sidewalk friends:
Your anti-sidewalk obsession is very disturbing and serves no public good. Kindly write this down three times a day until it all becomes clear:

Sidewalks are safer for pedestrians than roads.
Sidewalks are safer for pedestrians than roads.
Sidewalks are safer tor pedestrians than roads.

Now, it looks like your street is near the top of the priority list and you STILL oppose it. Will this be your legacy in Cobourg? The anti-sidewalk guy. May the good lord help you.

Kevin

Last year one of the main reasons for recommending a sidewalk on Abbott was safety. By excluding all roads in Cobourg without a curb and gutter the study will likely miss the roads that have the greatest need of a sidewalk for safety. Lakeshore, East of Abbott, was identified as more dangerous than Abbott for example. It may be a good first draft but if safety is the main reason for building sidewalks then some work is still needed. The first thing that I read in the Transportation Master Plan was “…, while addressing existing concerns and issues of Cobourg residents,…”

Bill Clinton

Somebody doesn’t want to shovel a sidewalk…

Miriam Mutton

Kevin, excellent observation.

Walter L. Luedtke

On the subject of sidewalk walking:
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/first-person/article-watch-out-im-taking-back-my-rightful-space-on-the-sidewalk/
And let’s get creative.
How about a “wavedeck” like the grownups in Toronto have?
http://www.west8.com/projects/simcoe_wavedeck/

Ahewsonator

Be funny to see what the folks on Abbott Blvd will think about this when they get their sidewalk in a couple years. Half their argument against the sidewalk was there being lack of a proper process for determining which street gets them. Well now there’s a process and it says they do, now what?

Kevin

A major part of the issue last year, and now this year, was to do with the policy of building sidewalks on existing streets in the first place. At the time and now there is no actual measure of use. This new policy has N/A for public engagement. Why not ask the opinions of the people that are most likely to use a new sidewalk? Building sidewalks on some streets may be a very good idea but on others there may be better options. The Spencer St. East area has several apartment buildings, the street is narrow with many parked cars. Abbott is wide and has few parked cars. There is much room on Abbott to share the road safely. My response is not meant to be funny as I consider a policy of spending millions of tax dollars on infrastructure that will be underused, at least in some place, not funny at all.

Cobourg Person

I disagree. Sidewalks increase safety by separating the pedestrians from the roadway. Further, it creates a designated location for the cars and for the pedestrians. I live in the area and frequently walk along Abbott Blvd. I do not agree that “there is much room on Abbott to share the road safely.”

Miriam Mutton

Thank you for the detailed report, John. A meeting notice I received today indicates that the Council’s Accessibility Advisory Committee is considering this staff report on sidewalks at their meeting tomorrow, April 18.