Manitoba

Winnipeg's $334M cycling, walking plan rolls through committee

A major plan to enhance Winnipeg's active transportation system was unanimously passed by a council committee on Tuesday.
A major plan to enhance Winnipeg's active transportation system has been unanimously passed by a council committee. 2:19

A multimillion-dollar plan to make Winnipeg more accessible for cyclists and pedestrians was unanimously passed by a council committee on Tuesday.

The proposed active transportation plan, which calls for spending $334 million over 20 years was given a green light by the city's infrastructure committee and will next move on to the executive policy committee.

The plan proposes expanding the bicycle and sidewalk network, bicycle parking, a facelift to pedestrian and cyclist crossings, safe and well-lit routes, facilities for pedestrians and cyclists and maintenance for the bicycle and sidewalk network.

Anders Swanson of the Winnipeg Trails Association says the active transportation plan, if approved, would make the city more accessible to everyone.

"Cycling, walking becomes an essential service," he said. "So that is just like the road network, just like the bus system, whether you choose to walk, bike, or you happen to be in a wheelchair."

Only two per cent of the city has designated bike paths, and half the city has no sidewalks, said Swanson, who suggested that the city focus on completing an active transportation route for the downtown area first.

The city heard opinions from thousands of Winnipeggers, which helped them develop long-term and short-term strategies to get people out and active.

Swanson said a plan to get more people walking and cycling in the city has been decades in the making.

"It's building on conversations that I've been listening to, quite frankly, for way too long about bike paths ending or people not feeling safe to get out there," he said.

"It's finally a focus on some of the simplest forms of transportation that really underpin the way we move around our city."

Downtown BIZ proposes extended path

Meanwhile, the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ wants the city to set up a protected cycling path, almost 20 kilometres long, linking Assiniboine Park to Kildonan Park through the downtown area on some Sundays this summer.

"You could go from Assiniboine Park all the way through to The Forks and up Waterfront Drive to Scotia to Kildonan Park. So it would be connecting the downtown to two major parks on a Sunday," said Stephanie Voyce, the Downtown BIZ's manager of placemaking, cleanliness and transportation

Officials told the committee that a test project blocking off curb lanes to vehicles in the West Broadway neighbourhood over the past few years has been very successful.

Voyce said bike-protected lanes attract a lot of cyclists, especially families.

"We've seen great success. A lot of kids and families who just aren't comfortable being on the road unless they're separated from vehicles. So it's been really lovely to see," she said.

"If they can feel comfortable and feel that they're cycling in a safe way, it really encourages folks that normally don't cycle to come out."

Voyce said there are only a few short distances that would require marking off curb lanes to complete the proposed bike route.

The BIZ proposes setting aside four Sundays in August and September for the protected bike lanes. The last day would coincide with the Ciclovia festival downtown.

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