Manitoba

Bike route barricades get green light from city committee

In the face of increasingly loud calls and reports of fights breaking out between cyclists and drivers, a city committee has approved putting barricades back up on Sunday bike routes.

City says if council OKs barricades' return, it will cost $35K a year, won't guarantee safety

In the face of increasingly loud calls and reports of fights breaking out between cyclists and drivers, a city committee has approved putting barricades back up on Sunday bike routes. 1:57

In the face of increasingly loud calls and reports of fights breaking out between cyclists and drivers, a city committee has approved putting barricades back up on Sunday bike routes. 

Public Works director Brad Sacher said Tuesday the city will take another look at Sunday bike routes after the city put up signage to limit vehicular traffic - that runners and cyclists say drivers are ignoring. 

"Can we control it?" Sacher asked committee members.

This is the first summer Winnipeg has not placed barricades along four city streets - Wellington Crescent, Wolseley Avenue, Lyndale Drive and Scotia Street - where vehicular traffic is limited on Sundays and holidays.
Former Winnipeg police officer Rodney Bolianaz said when drivers don't see barricades, they assume the road is open. (CBC )

Instead, the city put up signs, then added extra signage when drivers weren't getting the message.

It has led to reports of fights breaking out between cyclists and other recreational users of the streets, and drivers.

Sacher said he doesn't want expectations raised that simply restoring the barricades would make the streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

He said police said stopping people from driving around the barricades before they were removed was an issue, too. 

Sacher said it costs approximately $35,000 a year to put the barricades back up.

While the public works committee approved the move, it still needs the approval of city council.

'Temperatures flare'

Earlier Tuesday, the city councillor who represents the Wellington Crescent area added his voice to those calling for the barricades to go back up. 
River Heights-Fort Garry Coun. John Orlikow said tensions between cyclists and drivers are mounting on Sundays, with drivers ignoring signs limiting traffic and cyclists policing the boulevard themselves. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

River Heights-Fort Garry Coun. John Orlikow said tempers are flaring as the number of cars ignoring signs intended to limit traffic is increasing on Sundays and holidays. 

"Not only are there an excessive amount of cars that are using Wellington Crescent, way more than before, but they're also going a lot faster," he said. "So that conflict, residents are actually taking it upon themselves to try to stop cars. The police have been out, I give them credit for that, but the volume of cars is so great." 

Even Winnipeg Police Chief Devon Clunis weighed into the issue, saying drivers weren't getting the message, in spite of new signage and a vow to ticket scofflaws. 

Suddenly [drivers] come up to the road and they go 'Oh. No barricades. I wonder, it is Saturday? Is it not closed anymore?- former Winnipeg police officer Rodney Bolianaz

Orlikow told the city's public works committee people are fighting over Sunday driving rules. 

"Temperatures flare. Cyclists and runners are taking it upon themselves to stop cars. Not a very good idea. Police are out there giving their tickets. But then as they give out a ticket, 10 new cars, 15 new cars, go by them," he added. 

Orlikow said he's been flooded with complaints from both sides in the last few weeks.

'Putting up signs doesn't stop traffic'

CBC caught up with former Winnipeg police officer Rodney Bolianaz as he was cycling along Wellington Crescent Tuesday.

He said it's easy to see why the signs aren't working. 

"People have been aware for 22 years, when the barricades are up, the road is closed. Suddenly they come up to the road and they go 'Oh. No barricades. I wonder, it is Saturday? Is it not closed anymore?"

Bolianaz said he has witnessed shouting matches between cyclists and motorists this year.

He said the signs are too small for drivers to see.

"The barricades are the single biggest deterrent to traffic coming. If you drive up to a barricade you know the road is closed. Whereas just putting up signs doesn't stop that traffic." ​

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