Downtown bike lanes get rolling this summer
City wants growth in ridership among families and women: project manager
Cyclists will be able to use most of the freshly painted downtown bike paths starting in July, city staff announced Wednesday.
The end result will be 7.8 kilometres of separated bike lanes and shared-use paths, said project manager Olga Messinis.
“We’re looking to see ridership within the downtown grow,” she told reporters at a new bike lane on 106 Street. “We want to see a lot more people using it at all ages and abilities. We want to see families ... We want to see an increase of women riding in the downtown bike network.”
The bike grid’s success partly depends on public education, so that people learn how to use a new traffic signalling system, Messinis said.
“You’ll actually see specific changes to signals in general,” she said, noting a bike symbol will be added to standard red, amber and green lights.
Bike counters will be installed throughout the grid and a street team will be tasked with asking users for feedback, Messinis said.
Coun. Ben Henderson said the routes are flexible if major changes are necessary.
“It’s good infrastructure, but it’s done in a way where it can be moved around,” he told reporters.
“We’re following in the steps of work that has been done in a lot of other Canadian cities,” he said, referencing Calgary’s bike lane project. “The change is always hard. There are trade-offs to trying to retrofit these kinds of things.”
The cycling grid has hit some bumps during the construction process — a lane planned for 104 Avenue near Rogers Place has been moved to 105 Avenue, running from 101 Street to 116 Street. The move aimed to address possible traffic congestion in anticipation of crowds going to Rogers Place for events.
Certain sections will be installed after 2017 due to ongoing construction in the city, Messinis said.
Despite concerns the lanes will take space previously used by cars, Henderson believes the network will benefit drivers in the long term.
“It’s frustrating for cars when they don’t know ... (where) bikes are going to go,” he said. “We have chosen the roads downtown ... that had a lot of extra capacity.”
Henderson said the project is part of creating an attractive downtown core.
“There’s an entire generation coming ... who want to live in a city that offers this,” he said. “Unless you offer the infrastructure, you’re not going to see the use.”
A comprehensive map of the Downtown Bike Network is online at edmonton.ca/projects.
Coun. Ben Henderson says establishing bike lanes is part of creating an attractive downtown core for young people “who want to live in a city that offers this.”