Committee supports MICA proposal for Highway 542 paved shoulders

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Committee wants secondary highways on Island paved as well

MINDEMOYA – While the Central Manitoulin roads committee is in support of a proposal by Manitoulin Island Cycling Advocates (MICA) for paved shoulders on Highway 542 in its Island entirety, the committee feels that all secondary highways should undergo the same program. 

At a Central Manitoulin roads committee meeting last week, “we discussed all of this and the committee agreed to request (municipal clerk) Ruth (Frawley) to draft a letter on our concerns,” said Derek Stephens, chair of the roads committee. He explained the MTO, “has done a good job on paving the shoulders of roads in some of the areas, like Highway 6, and some of 542, but we want them to look at all secondary highways and do the same. Those paved shoulders are a safety concern for grading work being done, people walking, riding bicycles, and those that use horse and buggy to travel.”

Maja Mielonen, president of MICA, said in a Facebook post last week, “as you may know, MICA has been successful in its lobby efforts for paved shoulders since 2010 on three of the four MTO roads found on Manitoulin. Currently we ask for your help. MTO is seeking input to their Northern Ontario Transportation Plan.”

In the MICA post to the MTO it states, “we applaud your goal of getting people moving and connecting communities efficiently and safely. The province-wide cycling network plan shows Highway 542 for most of its length as the planned cycle route.” 

“MICA advocates for paved shoulders on Highway 542 for its entire length on Manitoulin,” wrote Ms. Mielonen. “Highway 542 is heavily used by ferry departure anxiety driven traffic; by low speed farm traffic; as the main access route by a great influx of Amish families travelling by horse and buggy in the last 10 years. Highway 542 is, in many portions, part of the 85-kilometre suggested cycle route found on Manitoulin and used by thousands of cyclists every year for three of the four seasons.”

Ms. Mielonen explained, “Highway 542 travels through three municipalities and is currently in very rough condition, too narrow for the safety of all vehicular traffic. In addition, the badly broken edges currently make travelling along Highway 542 on a cycle very dangerous and cyclists have to enter far into the roadway for safe travel.”

“Studies have clearly shown that paved shoulders are cheaper when the cost is calculated over five years and much safer for all road users (41 percent less car accidents),” continued Ms. Mielonen. “We are advocating for adding paved shoulders for the safety of all road users in northern Ontario. We are happy to see cross ministerial input sought in our communities. Moving people is so very much interrelated with the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Education.”
MICA is urging local residents to write a letter to the Honourable Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation Queen’s Park/Minister’s Office 5th Floor, 777 Bay Street, Toronto, Ontario M7A 1Z8.