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LETTER: Put the brakes on plans for Mills Road bike lanes

I want to express my dismay about the Town of Sidney’s plan to create bike lanes on Mills Road between Resthaven and Pat Bay. This will deeply affect – negatively – the elder population who reside in Resthaven Lodge, Sidney All Care, and Amica/Beechwood.

This street is congested with traffic and the (up to) 75 parking spots on Mills are full on weekdays and weekends. Care workers, visitors, service vehicles, and residents without driveways all park on Mills – it and adjacent streets are congested. Where will these 75 vehicles park? These issues also arise:

This plan forces visitors/care workers to walk farther to get to their shut-in loved ones. This is unkind. Elders in care have enough loneliness, without making it difficult for their visitors to visit.

Bikes whizzing up/down Mills (on which elders walk with canes/walkers, and travel in wheelchairs/scooters) is frightening. It’s already dangerous.

Eighteen-wheeler delivery/waste services vehicles, vans, and trucks come and go from the care/retirement homes daily. Mixing speeding bicycles with large vehicles creates an “accident waiting to happen.”

Care workers (many female) working nights walk to their cars – Mills is a well-lit street. Forcing these workers to walk farther on less-well-lit streets is crazy.

About 45% of people in Sidney are over 65 – they don’t need (nor will they use) bike lanes.

The town’s plan is based on 231 respondents, 350 web visits, six stakeholders, and 48 comments on the mapping tool. This is a low engagement rate for a town of over 12,000. I doubt it is an accurate reflection of residents’ wishes. Based on percentages and respondent numbers, the town intends to displace 75 parking spaces, and inconvenience hundreds of Mills Road residents/workers, because 39 cyclists might use a two-way bike lane on Mills “at least” once a week? This is preposterous.

This is an unkind plan that needs work. There needs to be an opportunity for residents to share ideas about combining green solutions, cyclists’ needs, and residents’ needs – especially those of the elders on Mills. I implore the town to scrap this plan.

Michael Ireland