Downtown bike lanes put premium on parking — for cyclists

Edmonton's Downtown Bike Network is expanding over the summer, which means more cyclists looking for a place to lock up their wheels.

'I lock my bike more often to a random road sign post compared to a bike lock up spot,' says cyclist

Andrew Ritchie rides along the newly opened protected bike lanes. (John Robertson/CBC)

Cycling in Edmonton has gotten easier due to the city's newly opened downtown bike lanes. But as more cyclists are expected to commute downtown this summer, riders are already calling for more bicycle parking. 

"I feel that I lock my bike more often to a random road sign post compared to a bike lock up spot," said downtown cyclist Andrew Ritchie.

The city opened part of the new system of bike lanes through the urban core two weeks ahead of schedule on June 16. All of the protected bike lanes south of 105th Avenue are now ready for two-wheeled commuters.

Construction began on the network of new lanes in April. Lanes in outlying areas of the city are expected to be completed by August 26.

But some cyclists say they are having difficulty locking up a bike at the end of the ride.

Bike messenger Mariah Hoy locks her bike wherever she can find a spot while working downtown. She is glad that the new commuter bike lanes are finally open and hopes the city adds more racks.

"Hopefully, they will add more," Hoy said. "I just lock up on ramps and posts and anything I can find honestly."
A bicycle locked to a city bike rack using a U-Lock and a flexible lock. (John Robertson/CBC)

A spokesperson for First Capital Realty, a property management firm, said Friday the company plans to install new bike racks in the Brewery District next week after complaints that the existing city-approved racks were not working.

Chris Chan with the Edmonton Bicycle Commuters Society (EBC) said that more businesses should use bike rack designs that work with the wide variety of bicycles out there.

"What you have to consider, as someone looking for a bike rack, is will it hold the bike up neatly and upright?" Chan said. 

"It should support the bike in at least two points of contact," he added. "And the other consideration: Can you fit a U-Lock around the wheel, the frame and the bike rack?"

It is legal to lock your bike to street furniture, sign posts or street light poles, as long as they don't block pedestrians or roadways.
Lots of signs cover the Downtown Bike Network as motorists and cyclists get used to the new lanes. (John Robertson/CBC)

Locked bikes cannot block traffic control devices, such as a pedestrian crosswalk button, and the city asks that bicycles not be locked to trees.

The city is now in the process of installing more racks downtown.

If residents would like a bike rack installed outside their building, one can be requested from the City of Edmonton website.