Silent auction to raise funds for new bike routes

January 13, 2016   ·   0 Comments

This new year brings an exciting new infrastructure project for Orangeville – three new bike routes along with places to park them, with the objective being completely funded by private means.

It can be difficult to find tax dollars for projects focused on improving the quality of lives but might not be considered “necessary” in the same way things like water, waste, police, and fire services might be.

For this reason, the Active Transportation Sub-Committee, a part of the Orangeville Sustainability Team (OSAT) is organizing the project, and has decided to try raising funds privately instead of initially relying on taxpayers. They will be doing this via an online silent auction for the bike routes.

This is a win/win situation for the citizens of Orangeville as it provides an amazing opportunity for a family or organization who wants to leave a legacy in town by sponsoring a route. Sponsoring a route costs less than the buying the naming rights to a building or wing of a building, and it also provides a lot more exposure to the sponsor because of the number of places their name will be displayed over a much wider geographic area.

Reserve bids will start at about $15,000 to $20,000 and will run on for about a month beginning in February. The three people or organizations with the largest bids will each get the naming rights to a route. Sponsoring a route includes approximately 20 signs dispersed along the route and names in all the literature around town for at least 10 years.
The funds will go towards installing sharrows, which are marks on the road, signs, and ongoing maintenance, however initial costs will also include bike racks and bike loops to accommodate the expected increase in cyclists.

Bike loops are metal loops which can be attached to already existing posts and signs; there are already many of them already downtown. Both bike loops and traditional racks will be also available for sponsorship for about $750 to $1,000 each with the donor’s name appearing on them.

Each sign signifying a route or labeling a bike rack or loop will include at least three things – a bike logo, the Town of Orangeville logo, and sponsor recognition.

The routes will be 4.5, 4.26 and 2.8 kilometres; the person or group with the highest bid will get the first choice of route and so on. The three routes will include the following roads:

• Hansen Boulevard, Amelia Street, Elizabeth Street and Second Avenue;
• Century Drive, Parkview Drive, Lawrence Avenue, Madison Avenue, Church Street, Bythia Street, connecting wirth the Kay Cee Gardens Trail;
• Roads and Trails in vicinity of Montgomery Blvd., connecting to Alder Street, C Line and Century Drive

The sub-committee worked hard with Public Works to identify which routes will work best for this project. They won’t be on the main streets like Broadway or Riddell because they are too busy, nor will they be on residential streets that are too narrow to accommodate both cars and cyclists.

“We aren’t taking any space away from car drivers,” said committee member Rotarian Charles McCabe. “They’ll just see more signs and have more awareness that there will be cyclists here too.”

Mr. McCabe also said that the main reason for building the routes is to create a sense of safety for bikers and increase awareness amongst drivers that they should expect to see more cyclists on these roads.

“We did an informal survey, and one of the main reasons why people why people don’t ride their bikes [in Orangeville] is because they don’t feel safe,” said Mr. McCabe. “Orangeville is a safe place for people to ride their bikes, but people don’t always feel this way.”

There are also other reasons for creating the routes, such as encouraging people in the outskirts of Orangeville to come into town more often on their bikes, which has the added benefit of alleviating parking congestion downtown, not to mention that riding a bike is healthy and environmentally positive. There are also many schools along the routes, making it safe for kids to bike to school, and the routes will go by several parks as well.

The routes will not be separate from the roads themselves. They will be a part of the road but will be a well-marked so it is clear to both cyclists and car drivers that both are there. This does depend, however, on how much funding they receive. Depending on how successful the silent auction is, the Town of Orangeville may be able to do more things with the routes, such as creating entirely separate paths in future years for those roads wide enough to accommodate that. For now, however, they will be attached to the roads.

Although this is a new concept for Orangeville, it is popular and successful in other places. In Toronto, for example, there are bikes lanes that are a part of the road network throughout the city. The same is true for smaller communities like Guelph, Town of Blue Mountains, Pelham, Kitchener, and Ajax. However in these places, both drivers and bikers are used to the set-up, and it is taken for granted as safe. It just takes some getting used to.

There currently aren’t any formal bike routes that share the road with cars in Orangeville, although Hansen Blvd. (Route 1) does already have painted separated bike lanes.

If all goes well, the sub-committee is optimistic that the routes will be finished and ready for cyclists late spring to early summer 2016.

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