Downtown’s Dundas Place flex street may be in for another big change

Downtown’s Dundas Place flex street may be in for another big change

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London’s downtown stretch of Dundas Street, the so-called “flex street” Dundas Place, would turn into a one-way street with two bicycle lanes under a new plan going to city politicians.

As part of the pilot project city council will debate, west-bound traffic on Dundas Street downtown would be banned between Ridout and Wellington streets this summer, during this year’s construction season.

Traffic would be reduced to just one lane, on the centre of the road. Two bike lanes, one going east and one going west, would also added under the plan.

The proposal goes to city council’s civic works committee on Tuesday. It comes ahead of cyclists losing the protected bike lanes on King Street as city hall gears up for another busy year of construction downtown, including the start of London’s bus rapid transit system and its “downtown loop.”

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The proposal has been praised by parts of London’s cycling community, though they want tweaks.

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“We’re very happy the city is actively trying to improve cyclists’ safety through this corridor because it’s a really critical piece of the cycling network,” said Daniel Hall, head of Cycle Link London.

The group is pledging to work with city hall to make sure the plan, if approved by city council, “is actually a real improvement for cyclists and . . . really an improvement for safety,” Hall said.

One sticking point? Parking on both sides of the street will be allowed – there are about 25 on-street parking spots – which could create some conflicts between cyclists going west on Dundas and vehicles trying to park on the left side of the street, Hall said.

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The plan also includes reducing parking limits to one hour from two.

Proposed layout for Dundas Street as part of a project to turn the road into a one-way corridor in 2021. City of London staff report.

City hall would also need to figure out a way to avoid delivery trucks and vehicles from temporarily blocking the bike lanes, Hall said.

Coun. Elizabeth Peloza, chair of city council’s civic works committee, shares similar concerns.

“I’m glad that we’re proposing to have bike lanes to go somewhere versus it just being removed and no concessions being made,” she said.

“But I’m also concerned about the bike lanes and the parking and the potential for cyclists being ‘doored’ (collided with a parked vehicle’s suddenly opened door) and that there are no protected bike lanes.”

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For Hall, the biggest safety concerns will be eased if city hall ensures drivers go slow on Dundas Place, which already has a speed limit of 30 kilometres/hour.

Peloza said council will also have to consider feedback from downtown businesses, hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and find the best way to use the space.

The proposal will be debated by council’s civic works committee on Tuesday.

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