Local poll respondents want to see more enforcement of speeding cyclists on Newmarket's Tom Taylor Trail — or even an outright ban.
NewmarketToday's polling has a new methodology, which allows us to capture relevant data while filtering out fraudulent, non-local, duplicate and robotic votes.
With the town recently launching an educational campaign on trail etiquette, and continued public concerns throughout the pandemic about use of trails for pedestrians and cyclists, we asked our readers: How should the Town of Newmarket address speeding cyclists on Tom Taylor Trail?
Here are the results:
- Cyclists should be barred from Tom Taylor Trail. There are other trails and bike lanes in town they should use instead, or have exclusive access — 28 per cent, 140 votes
- The town’s current course is the best way — education, signage and adding centre lines — 26 per cent, 126 votes
- We need more enforcement on the trails. There should be a punishment for speeding cyclists — 25 per cent, 123 votes
- Do nothing, it's not a big problem — pedestrians and cyclists just need to be more considerate and share the space — 15 per cent, 75 votes
- Cyclists should only be allowed to use Tom Taylor Trail at certain times of day when pedestrian traffic is lower — six per cent, 28 votes
The poll, which ran from July 11 to 20, received 492 local responses, which provides for a 95 per cent confidence level, with a -/+ 4.19 per cent margin of error.
The most popular choice was to ban cyclists from the trail, which is not something the municipality is currently considering. Combined, more than 53 per cent of voters are calling for more enforcement or an outright ban on bikes on the trails.
About a quarter of respondents said the town’s current, education-focused approach is right (26 per cent), or that speeding bikes are not a big problem (15 per cent).
Mayor John Taylor said the poll results are not surprising and appear to confirm what the municipality is hearing about trail use concerns.
"There are a significant number of people who are sort of at the point 'we need to be doing things differently'," he said.
The municipality is planning a workshop in the fall to discuss long-term approaches to the trail's development and maintenance.
Taylor said changes could come from that workshop, though he said banning cyclists would be an "extreme direction."
"Some of these cyclists are four-year-old kids with training wheels," Taylor said, adding he does not want to pre-judge. "We have to look at everything. Everything is worth thinking about and studying."
Todd Kyle of Cycle Newmarket, a cycling advocacy group, said the trail is an important link in the municipality's active transportation network.
"While our preference and best practice is to provide a connected series of safe on-street bike lanes, the trail is often the only option for some routes," Kyle said. "We urge all users to practise tolerance and respect for other users regardless of mode."
Newmarket cyclist Peggy Stevens said the poll results are disappointing. She said there are users in every group, including cyclists, walkers and joggers who could have better trail etiquette.
"That education piece on all trail users has been sadly lacking and certainly, as a cyclist, I've had dogs on long leashes come out in front of me," Stevens said. "There's a lot of work to be done on the trail."
Taylor said an education-first approach does not preclude enforcement, and a stronger enforcement-second approach could come from the council workshop. But he said he stands by education-first in bylaw enforcement, adding that there is a lot the municipality can do to improve behaviour.
"I will unapologetically say always do education first," Taylor said. "These are our residents. They're mostly very reasonable people."
NewmarketToday will continue doing statistically accurate polling about community issues and sharing the results. You can vote on all our latest polls at newmarkettoday.ca/polls.