Manitoba

Bike lane pet peeves: Cyclists point out gaps, odd designs in city's network

Cyclists who use Winnipeg's bike lanes agree the city needs more protected lanes say there's conflict between cyclists and pedestrians, and outlined other concerns like random network gaps and weird designs.

Recent survey says most Winnipeggers agree more protected bike lanes are needed

A group of cyclists in the bike lane on Pembina Highway Thursday. (CBC)

A recent poll suggests three out of four Winnipeggers think separated bike lanes are a good thing, and two-thirds of those polled said our city doesn't have enough of them.

But what do the people who use these lanes think?

The Angus Reid Institute poll, released Thursday, surveyed 526 people in Winnipeg and found the majority of those felt there was quite a bit of conflict between cyclists and drivers on our roads.

Those who use the lanes agree, and they also say there's conflict between cyclists and pedestrians, as well as other concerns, like seemingly random gaps in the network and tight corners.

Several cyclists outlined their pet peeves with Winnipeg's current bike network.

Jason Carter says small details matter when riding on the city's bike paths. (CBC)

Jason Carter: Member of Bike Winnipeg, rides four times a week to work, then long rides on the weekend.

Pet peeve: The north side of the Disraeli foot/cycling bridge where it meets Talbot.

Carter said the bridge is wide and open and he enjoys the connection from downtown to Elmwood. However, he said the bridge tests the relationship between pedestrians, cyclists and drivers because they all intersect at Talbot.

The end of the bridge means a hard right turn for cyclists, the handrail sticks out and the path can be slippery when it's wet, which is a concern when you're coming downhill from the bridge.

"Details matter when you're riding a bike," he said.

"The first detail there is a curb. The curb is actually moulded down for the sidewalk, but it's still a good eight to 10 inches high next to the road, so if you're not in the right spot — kaboom, you're going over that curb."

He said a simple fix would be to make the path curve more instead of a hard 90-degree turn.

Anders Swanson says not building a bike lane with new construction is a missed opportunity. (CBC)

Anders Swanson: Executive director of Winnipeg Trails Association.

Pet peeve: New road being constructed at Ellice at Arlington but no bike lanes being added.

Swanson said building a new road in the city on a major route without new bike lanes is a missed opportunity.

"It's basically saying that the people who live here don't deserve to have a safe place to ride a bicycle," he said. 

A road that has a protected bike lane carries many more people, he said, adding he thinks the city could build active transportation networks faster if it wanted to.

The city should prioritize roads for cyclists and pedestrians first, said Swanson.

"You've got to look at the budget. Look at how much money is being spent on car-focused projects versus how much money is being planned for bicycle and pedestrian projects. It's that simple."

Carl Hrenchuk wants to see better signage. (CBC)

Carl Hrenchuk: Avid lifelong cyclist.

Pet peeve: A lack of signage at bus stops to warn pedestrians not to stand in bike lanes.

Hrenchuk said he's happy to see the city is finally investing in cycling infrastructure, but the lack of signage irks him.

"There's a series of bike lanes that parallel major routes and they come on and off the major route and around bus stops," he said.

"The bus shelters open onto the bike lane and quite frequently people will be standing immediately in your path," blocking cyclists, he said.

The city needs to address this danger with signs warning about the hazards of standing in bike lanes. He'd also like to see better cleaning jobs by city crews for bike lanes.

Jackie Morrison-Demchuk says sewer grates catch tires and cause spills. (CBC)

Jackie Morrison-Demchuk: Cyclist for four years.

Pet peeve: Sewer grate death traps and tire wedgies.

One particular design flaw means road rash for Morrison-Demchuk. 

"Quite often, people who make bike lanes clearly don't bike, because they'll line up the sewer so that the slots are parallel with the way you're riding your bike, so your bike tire can be wedged in them and then you can fall down," she said, showing off a recent injury.

She's also not thrilled with a few places where bike paths weave into pedestrian traffic and there's no signage.

Still, she's happy to see bike paths popping up.

Rick Yaschyshyn says his customers mostly complain about gaps in the bike lane on Pembina Highway. (CBC)

Rick Yaschyshyn: Staff member at Alter Ego Sports.

Pet peeves he hears from customers: Gaps in the new paths on Pembina Highway, cars that open doors into bikes.

Yaschyshyn said his customers, like most cyclists, are happy to see bike lanes being built but are frustrated  by gaps in the network, especially along major streets. 

"Along Pembina Highway, it starts up kind of out of nowhere and then it ends kind of nowhere. It peters out to nothing and puts you straight into traffic," he said.

Osborne Street is also concerning, he said, noting that there's "not enough room," and then the bike lane abruptly ends.

One of the biggest complaints he hears is about downtown, where drivers parking their cars next to bike paths often don't look for cyclists.

"So cars park and then they open up their doors, and the doors open up directly into the bike lane," said Yaschyshyn. 

"One of the guys here called it the 'lanes of death.'"

He said the one thing that unites all his customers is the issue of separated bike lanes.

"Everyone is happier without having to dodge each other."

A 20-year plan

Winnipeg is currently in Year 3 of a 20-year active transportation plan, said Stephanie Whitehouse, active transportation co-ordinator with the City of Winnipeg.

"Our goal, of course, is a complete connected network," she said.

"Our council approved the Pedestrian Cycling Strategy in 2015. So while we've been working on cycling infrastructure since around 2007, the commitment to improving cycling as one of the transportation options for Winnipeggers really came with council approving that strategy and vision."

The strategy includes 800 kilometres of new and rehabilitated bike lanes, sidewalks, neighbourhood greenways and multi-use paths. The total cost is pegged at $334 million.

And while cycling is a big component of that, "we want people to understand that walking and other active modes are also part of our plan."

Every year, the work that gets done depends on identified priorities, feedback received from the community and upcoming road renewal.

Downtown is the greatest priority at the moment, said Whitehouse, but the city is also actively trying to connect neighbourhoods to the downtown.

"So there's a bunch of factors that help us to determine where we need to place our effort. If we know there's road renewal coming in 2020, then we'll allocate some funds to study what kind of facility, what the land requirements are, and what the traffic conditions are and so on.

"It's a work in progress. We're adding almost nine kilometres this year with our construction."

She said gaps like people see on Pembina Highway are due to the fact the bike paths are connected to road renewal. Building paths in conjunction with road renewal is cheaper and more efficient, but it can mean the entire lane isn't built at once.

Feedback is one of the most important components of what has been built and what will get built next, she said. 

"Because we are relatively new at installing these facilities, we keep learning every year on how to improve on the projects that we deliver."

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