City delays bike lanes, orders more consultation
City council's transportation committee has postponed a plan to install more bike lanes along 76 Avenue and 121 Avenue, ordering planners to do more consultation after resistance from residents and businesses along the routes.
The decision follows a Feb. 13 meeting, where Mayor Stephen Mandel the ripped into city planners after businesses complained about not being consulted on the plan, which would eliminate some on-street parking.
City administration returned to the committee Wednesday with a report detailing the consultation process.
The desicion to go back for more public input frustrated many of the nineteens people who spoke in support of the plan.
Karly Coleman, the vice-president of the Alberta Bicycle Association, says that despite popular support for more bike lanes, councillors have been dragging their feet on actually getting them done.
"I can’t be generous anymore. I just think Edmonton needs to figure out how to do this, and how to do it well," she said.
Coleman says the current infrastructure is too focused on motorists, and that the city needs to do a better job balancing the needs of drivers with those of cyclists and pedestrians.
She argues that more, well-designed bike routes would make cycling safer and easier, leading to more people taking to two wheels and reducing congestion on the roads.
"We need to make better places for people to ride to, we need to make more places for people to ride in. And we need to educate them. We’re not doing that as a city."
Doctors support bike lane plan
Transportation committee also received a letter from 17 local physicians, urging councillors to go ahead with the bike lane plan.
Dr. Darren Markland, a kidney and intensive care specialist, said encouraging people to ride more often can prevent a host of medical problems later in life.
"As an intensivist and a nephrologist, I tend to get into the game too late. So this is a chance for me to advocate on behalf of my patients before the morbundity and disability of their diseases takes them," he said.
Markland said regular phsyical activity has been shown to lower rates of diabetes and Alzheimer's, two diseases that are a major strain on the health care system.
Better bike infastructure means more people getting that excersize, even if it is just during their commute, he said.
"A lot of my patients say that they just don’t have opportunities to exercise," he said.
"It only needs to be made safe and easy and peoplew will take advantage of it."