Yellowknife bike lanes under construction on 52 Avenue
Some residents along the street are concerned about safety, losing trees
Construction has begun in Yellowknife on new bike lanes along 52 Avenue, but some people living along that street are worried about safety when the new lanes open.
Faith Embleton, who has lived on the corner of 52 Avenue and 52 Street for decades says she watches the traffic every morning.
Someone is going to die. I don't want to see it from my kitchen window.- Faith Embleton
"It's just bumper to bumper, coming both ways," she says. "Everyone is jockeying to get across this intersection."
The new bicycle lanes will be separated from the street by a line of trees. Bikers and pedestrians will share the wider sidewalk.
"If the trees are on the outside, [the cyclists are] not going to be as noticeable as they are on the road," says Embleton.
"If bikers are going to pop out in front of roads, what's going to happen? Someone is going to die. I don't want to see it from my kitchen window."
Initially, the city proposed bike lanes on Franklin Avenue, but there were concerns, including that the main downtown street was too narrow, so council went with 52 Avenue, which runs parallel to Franklin.
"Although It is a very busy corridor, it isn't as busy as Franklin Avenue, which is an area where a lot of people wanted to see done first," says Jeff Humble, the city's director of planning and development.
"This provides us an opportunity to learn a little bit, to do some public education. Provide some signage."
Another issue for some residents is how much space the lanes are going to take up.
Initially, the trees that support one family's treehouse near 56 Street were on the chopping block. The property owners said they've had a fence for decades and didn't realize the city owns part of their lawn.
They and other residents appealed to the city about losing the trees and now the city has revised its plans. Cyclists will merge with traffic before 52 Avenue ends at 56 Street.
"We didn't feel it was a big issue to taper it off there," said Humble. "With some proper signage and so on, we can create a bit of acknowledgement for cyclists and motorists that this is an area to pay some attention to in terms of safety."
The plan is to finish the raised lanes on both sides of the street this summer, and build more bike lanes in the years to come.