Cycling advocates ask city to bulk up bike lane budget

Cycling advocates gathered to discuss the future of bike lanes in Edmonton at two separate meetings downtown on Monday.

Budget currently allots $4.3M to bike lanes - enough to build only one route

Bike lanes were the topic of discussion at two meetings held in downtown Edmonton on Monday. Starting Wednesday, council will begin official budget deliberations, which will determine how many new lanes Edmontonians can expect to see in the near future. (CBC News)

Cycling advocates gathered to discuss the future of bike lanes in Edmonton at two separate meetings downtown on Monday.

Christopher Chan with the Edmonton Bicycle Commuters Society was among the more than 60 citizens who signed up to have their say at the public hearing on the city’s 2015 budget.

Currently, the city has allotted only $4.3 million to building new bike lanes in the city this year enough to create the 83rd Avenue bike lane, but not enough to also build the proposed 102nd Avenue bike lane.

“Essentially administration decided on some priorities, and [102nd Avenue] fell below the threshold for funding,” Chan said.  

But he thinks the city should re-examine the situation.

“102nd Avenue is a route that everyone is asking for the Oliver Community League, the residents, so many people want that specific bike route,” Chan said. “It serves so many people, it would be the only really feasible bike route into downtown.”

“I think we’re at a really critical point right now. We’re still quite hopeful that council will find a way to fund these bike routes. “

Grade four student Lauren Ybema took the microphone at the public budget hearing on Monday to talk about why she thinks bike lanes are important. (Laura Osman/CBC)
Grade four student Lauren
Ybema is among those fighting for the route. The 10-year-old addressed the budget meeting on Monday to tell them how important she thinks the proposed bike route is.

“We can't bike in the winter because of the traffic and ice, but if there were safer bike lanes and separated bike lanes, we would be able to.”

Now, she, Chan and several other cycling advocates are asking city staff to add more cash to their bike lane budget.

Meanwhile, the fate of the 102nd Avenue bike lane was also the subject of conversation at a second meeting held at a downtown church on Monday.

While no cash has been allotted just yet to build the route, the city does plan to move forward on public consultation on the route in the hopes of fast-tracking the process if and when funds become available.

Coun. Scott McKeen attended both the public hearing meeting and the planning meeting for the 102nd Avenue route. He said he’s hopeful council will increase bike lane funds when deliberations officially begin on Wednesday.

“I think there’s a lot of interest on council to fund this,” he said.

Budget deliberations will continue through to December 12.


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