Coun­cil to con­sider plan to ex­pand bi­cy­cle lanes

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - FRONT PAGE - PHIL TANK

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.

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