The bicycle lanes created on some key streets in St. John's are largely unused by cyclists and could be better used for parking, said some councillors on Monday evening.

Bicycle lanes in St. John's

The City of St. John's started marking selected roads with bicycle lanes in 2011. (CBC)

Council voted to have a special committee review how the lanes are being used, even though council had indicated it was the first phase of a plan that would take 20 years to implement. Council made the decision to start the plan in 2010, and started creating paths in 2011.

Coun. Bruce Tilley questioned whether people in the city really want bike lanes.

"The problem is on certain streets up in my area and down on Coun. [Bernard] Davis's area, I can tell you in the last five years, there's been two people — two people riding their bikes up there," Tilley said.

"You got these lanes in, people can't park — their parking is gone on one side."

But Coun. Dave Lane said that while there may be problems with the new system, they should not be used to justify getting rid of bike lanes altogether.

"I think that some of the measures that we have taken thus far, either they were incomplete or they weren't the right ones," Lane said.

"So as we look at that, let's take a good review of the plan and make sure that we are not abandoning cycling."

Coun. Sandy Hickman said he would like to see more people on bicycles on city streets, although he noted that weather and hills are barriers.

"Our streets are certainly challenging and perhaps different from anywhere else in the world," Hickman said.

He added he would like to see dedicated, off-road paths — like one that runs along Prince Philip Drive, west of Memorial University — expanded.

"I think that's the way to go," he said. "If they have a safe place to ride their bike, then they'll more than likely take it up and get active."

The provincial and federal governments have committed $3 million to the program, which is intended to encourage more people to cycle as well as to protect bicyclists with dedicated spaces to the right of traffic lanes.

With files from Mark Quinn