Council to consider plan to expand bicycle lanes
Despite strong opposition to a pilot project that placed temporary protected bike lanes on Fourth Avenue, Saskatoon’s civic administration is recommending they become permanent.
City of Saskatoon staff recommend the lanes on Fourth, separated now by green paint and white vertical poles, become part of a downtown cycling network.
The network would include temporary lanes on 23rd Street, as well as new lanes on 19th Street and on Idylwyld Drive as part of a wider redevelopment of Idylwyld.
Jay Magus, the city’s acting director of transportation, said it’s not yet known how the various lanes would be separated or how
much the project would cost.
“We want folks from age eight to 80 to feel comfortable riding their bikes,” Magus told reporters at a news conference on Wednesday. “We strove to achieve a balance of all road users.”
City council will consider the network, which forms a trapezoid downtown, at a special meeting of its governance and priorities committee on June 20 at 1 p.m. Residents are welcome to appear to offer their opinions.
Keeping the bike lanes on Fourth and adding two new stretches at the expense of parking and driving lanes seems certain to be contentious. Four councillors opposed leaving the bike lanes on Fourth over the winter while plans for a downtown network were finalized.
Magus said city staff opted to keep the bike lanes on Fourth because the city is also planning for dedicated bus lanes on Third Avenue downtown. The downtown network plan was achieved through consultation with residents, he added.
“They want an accessible downtown,” Magus said.
“They want a place where they feel safe walking and riding their bike.”
Adding cycling infrastructure on Idylwyld and 19th is not expected to eliminate any parking stalls, a city report says. The raised cycling track planned for Idylwyld is part of a larger plan to revamp the street. That plan would reduce the number of lanes for vehicle traffic to six from seven.
Making the bike lanes permanent on Fourth and 23rd would eliminate parking stalls, the report says. On Fourth, a permanent bike lane would eliminate 58 spaces, while on 23rd, 13 spaces would be lost. Some parking stalls were eliminated when the pilot project was introduced to test downtown lanes. Lanes were installed along 23rd in 2015, followed by the lanes on Fourth in 2016.
Complaints have focused on the disruption to traffic flow and the elimination of parking for pathways that many consider to be scarcely used, especially in winter.
This map shows the City of Saskatoon’s proposed plan for a network of connected bike lanes downtown.