Edmonton

Cyclists pumped over approval of downtown bike grid

Council voted unanimously Tuesday to create segregated lanes for cyclists, approving a network of downtown bike routes that will be separated from traffic by planters or concrete dividers.

'This is a game changer for a lot of families to be able to access what our downtown has to offer'

The proposed downtown bike lane network. (Stantec)

Cheryl Trepanier is already thinking about cycling to downtown destinations like Rogers Place next year, after Edmonton city council approved a new bike lane network in the city core.

"This is a game changer for a lot of families to be able to access what our downtown has to offer," said Trepanier, who was at city hall to toast the news Tuesday.

Trepanier said she'd like to cycle downtown with family members now, but they're reluctant given bikes must currently riding alongside traffic.

"It's very difficult," she said. "There are cars going different ways. Nobody really knows where to go. There's no segregated space."

Cheryl Trepanier alongside other cyclists at City Hall Tuesday (Trevor Wilson CBC)

Council voted unanimously to create segregated lanes for cyclists, approving a network of downtown bike routes that will be separated from traffic by planters or concrete dividers.

The $7.5 million for the 7.1-kilometre network will come from existing traffic and transportation funds.

The lanes will crisscross the downtown area with lanes going down 100th, 102nd and 104th Avenues and 106th, 103rd and 99th Streets.

The lanes will be set apart from vehicle traffic by planters and concrete dividers. 

The project is supposed to be completed by summer 2017, but administration earlier warned councillors that timeline may be too aggressive.

Coun. Scott McKeen, who represents the downtown area, said he has been inundated with requests from people who want the project to go ahead. 

Mayor Don Iveson said council got the message during the last election campaign that people wanted better bike lane infrastructure downtown.

"I think we've got the location right and I think we've got the standard of quality right and I think we've found the right spot in terms of cost versus quality to get all the benefits of separated bike infrastructure," said Iveson who is hopeful the grid can be expanded to the University of Alberta area in 2018.

Mayor Don Iveson expects to see an increase in cyclists downtown when bike lanes open (Gareth Hampshire CBC News)

Iveson said he expects to see a "considerable increase" in the number of cyclists once the infrastructure is ready, similar to what happened in Calgary.

The next step is to get the design work done so work can start as soon as the snow melts.

Trepanier said she intends to take full advantage of the new system.

"This is really going to enhance our ability to come downtown and enjoy some of the amenities — Rogers Place, they're building a museum behind us, the square in front of us, the library across there," she said.

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