Edmonton's bike lane plan irks mayor

Complaints from street-front businesses that they were never consulted about the city's new bike lanes angered Edmonton's mayor Wednesday.
Area residents examine a map of the proposed bike lanes in south Edmonton Tuesday night at Hazeldean School. (CBC)

Complaints from street-front businesses that they were never consulted about the city's new bike lanes angered Edmonton's mayor Wednesday.

"We've lost sight of the importance of a car within the City of Edmonton which is still better than 70 per cent of the traffic," he said. "If we continue to do that we're going to lose business after business after business."

At a transportation committee meeting this morning an irate Stephen Mandel ripped into the transportation department for not talking with businesses before approving routes which will eliminate street parking.

The mayor's comments came after a public meeting was held at Hazeldean School Tuesday night.

Mandel wants to see records from the department on which businesses it consulted and when.

He said he's frustrated with the city's approach to the bike lanes.

"It's now become this massive investment, which I think is needed, but it has to be much more cleverly thought out than how we're doing it."

Transportation head Bob Boutilier said consultations on new bike lanes started over two years ago.

"A lot of older communities where people have relied on front yard parking, that's the challenge," he said. "It often doesn't impact people until the crews show up and that's the realization, 'What happened? What's going on?'"

Boutilier still plans to go ahead with adding 23 kilometres of new bike lanes in the city this year, unless elected officials decide otherwise, he said.

With files from CBC's Lydia Neufeld