City council has unanimously approved the $7.5 million Stantec plan to create a bike grid for downtown. The cycle track will have lanes along 104 Avenue, 102 Avenue and 100 Avenue, as well as 106 Street, 103 Street and 99 Street. Designed with the assistance of Stantec, it’ll have planters and small curbs to keep bicycles and cars away from each other.
“I think it’s fantastic,” said Cheryl Trepanier one of many members of Paths for People who came to City Hall to mark the occasion with some bubbly over the noon hour.
“I drive as well. As a driver I would appreciate the comfort of knowing that cyclists have place to be, that we weren’t trying to share because that doesn’t always work,” she said.
“I bike with a family, I bike with small children and that’s how I got involved in this. Because when you start riding and seeing things through the eyes of a child, those little dis-connects become huge when you can’t get across the street or you’re stopped and you have to go in traffic for a little bit.
“Those little bits are really threatening.”
Former city councillor Michael Phair, also with the group said mistakes were made in the past, but this time council seems to have gotten it right.
“The city could have done some things better. Perhaps some of that was done at a time when it seemed like putting a line on the road would be enough, which has been done in other places. There’s been more and more movement to say that’s not enough to really make it safe and you’ve got to come up with something better,” he said.
With the grid concentrated downtown, city planners are expecting the numbers to increase. Daniel Vriend, the general supervisor of Sustainable Transportation told council the current count has about one per cent of the population cycling downtown. “That’s increased by approximately 25 per cent, like from two-thirds of a percentage point up to one percent.”
“Our last downtown survey had roughly 5,500 cyclists travelling in and out of downtown in a single day period.”
Up next is an attempt by the city to get some ‘green’ infrastructure money from Ottawa to expand the network. “That’s what I’d want to explore,” Mayor Don Iveson told reporters. “Whether we could leverage the $7 million or so that we’re putting into the downtown piece, against up to $7 million worth of federal money in order to build $14 million worth of bike infrastructure.”
The expansion, if it comes about would see more neighborhoods in Old Strathcona and the University area add on to this grid, plus a possible further expansion downtown.
Planning will continue through the winter, with construction set for spring, and an hoped for opening by mid summer.