Edmonton

Strathcona neighbourhood renewal includes bike lanes, traffic calming

Edmonton's south-side bike network is set to expand to the Strathcona and Garneau neighbourhoods. As with all projects involving bike lanes, resident opinions range from anger to elation.

Construction expected to run from April 2019 to October 2021

An existing bike lane on 83rd Avenue near 99th Street in Strathcona. The neighbourhood is set to undergo a renewal process, which will include the addition of more bike lanes. (Anna McMillan/CBC)

Edmonton's south-side bike network is set to expand to the Strathcona and Garneau neighbourhoods. As with all projects involving bike lanes, resident opinions range from anger to elation.

The expansion is being incorporated into neighbourhood renewal plans for Strathcona, which involve the reconstruction of roads, sidewalks, gutters and street lighting.

The final concept for the renewal was unveiled Wednesday at a public engagement session.

It includes the addition of a two-way protected bike lane on 100th Street, a one-way protected bike lane on 87th Avenue, and a painted bike lane on 98th Street. The 87th Avenue and 100th Street lanes will convert the roads to one-ways.

The project is expected to be completed in 2021. (City of Edmonton)

A 30-kilometre speed limit has also been proposed for the area. Kay Harper has been living in the neighbourhood for 37 years, and said a slower speed limit could eliminate the need for bike lanes.

"Why don't they repair the roads, put sidewalks where there isn't any, and leave it the way it is?" she said.

Harper also said certain types of bike lanes, like those separated from the road by a cement curb, could cause accessibility issues in the neighbourhood.

"If you have a wheelchair or a walker, you can't get over them to go to your property," she said, noting people would have to move around the curb.

"That's stupid to walk half a block, to wheel your walker half a block."

Jared Greeve (right) is looking forward to having more bike routes in the neighbourhood. (Anna McMillan/CBC)

The style of the separated bikes lanes — either curbed or elevated — will be determined in the design phase starting next month.

Jared Greeve is one resident looking forward to having a more bike-friendly neighbourhood. He has been cycling through Strathcona for about four years, and said he's looking forward to having more bike routes in the area.

"Having other options also just gives us more real estate on the street to occupy and feel safe while we're riding our bikes," he said.

"Cars have almost every road and laneway in the city, so I like seeing more cycling infrastructure in place. Because if there is more of it, I imagine more people are going to hop on their bicycles, too."

Traffic disruptions likely, but minor

The proposed parklets will have a path for cyclists and pedestrians, but will block vehicle traffic. However, alley and emergency vehicle access will be maintained. (City of Edmonton)

A goal of the renewal is to make the neighbourhood safer by slowing traffic, but Strathcona resident Jim Hoover fears it will have the opposite effect.

A painted bike boulevard and two mini parks will be added to 98th Street. Those "parklets" will block through-traffic on small sections of the road, which Hoover said will disrupt traffic patterns.

"As parklets close roads, it's going to divert traffic through alleys and narrow lanes. And then the net effect for that is that you're going to get small spots, which have lots of kids with much more traffic," he said.

Hoover said a significant amount of traffic could be diverted to 97th Street, which he described as a country lane.

Jen Rutledge says the city has been keen to hear resident feedback throughout the planning phase of the project. (Anna McMillan/CBC)

But project supervisor Jen Rutledge said the renewal plan involves traffic-calming measures, like extended curbs and raised crosswalks, on almost every intersection of 97th Street.

"When you put these things in, people stick to the arterial roads instead of going through their neighbourhood and shortcutting through the neighbourhood," she said, noting there might be a slight increase in traffic on nearby streets, but it will remain well below the capacity of those roads.

Rutledge said the project team included the parklets in their concept after receiving resident feedback that highlighted the need for more green spaces. She also said there were concerns about traffic moving too quickly on 98th Street.

Prioritizing cyclists and pedestrians

The city has also heard resident concerns about accessibility and parking since consultation began in January. Rutledge said feedback has led to alterations in the original plans and will continue to be considered during the design phase.

She noted most residents want the area to be safer for all types of commuters.

"We heard resoundingly that walking and biking and travelling slow in the community were really important things to do," she said.

Construction for the neighbourhood renewal project is expected to run from April 2019 to October 2021.

About the Author

Anna McMillan

Journalist

Anna McMillan is a reporter, web writer and associate TV producer at CBC Edmonton. anna.mcmillan@cbc.ca