Council at it’s next meeting will approve funding for a downtown bike grid. They heard unanimous support from the cycling community Wednesday afternoon, especially from those urging that separate bike lanes be built for those who aren’t comfortable riding next to traffic.
“When I ride my bike I don’t notice the traffic as much as my parents,” said ten year old Lauren Ybema. “What I do notice are my parents yelling directions at me. I also notice that cars take up most of the space and it’s hard to ride on the road, and we’re not allowed on the sidewalk.”
“We need a balance,” said Doug Knight, of a seniors cycling group. “That’s the issue when you’re looking at the resources that council has available. How do you balance that out with all the needs that you have? I guess we ask that the financial consideration be given to encouraging more cyclists for all kinds of reasons — economic benefits, health benefits, environmental green benefits, etcetara, and that it’s a matter of allocating your resources and yes we are in favour.”
The $7.5 million grid, co-sponsored by Stantec will see separated bike lanes along 104th avenue, with shorter distances on 102nd and 100th Avenues as well as dedicated lanes on 106th, 103rd, and 99th streets.
“We’re excited that in two short years we’ll be moving close to 1,700 staff to western Canada’s tallest building,” said Stantec’s senior VP Keith Shillington, who is an avid cyclist and said the company wants to create a safe riding experience for its employees.
The money will come from re-allocated budgets, said Coun. Andrew Knack. “We’re not even saying we need new money tomorrow to start this. We can use it all from our existing dollars.”
The most expensive piece of this plan is $1.1 million for specially timed lights to give cyclists a head start at certain intersections. “We’d have to be over time replacing some of this signalling infrastructure anyway,” said Mayor Don Iveson.
Council will vote Oct. 11 on the budget. “We’ve already started,” said infrastructure GM Adam Laughlin on the prep work for the project. He expects the finished product will be on Edmonton streets in June or July.
“But with a caution that this is aggressive,” he said.
You can review the plan here at item 6.4