Reflections on bike lanes and moving ahead

I am very excited about Edmonton’s Bicycle Transportation Plan.  When City Council adopted the plan, the very idea suggested to me that we were thinking like a modern city.

Our Bicycle Transportation Plan says Edmonton needs to “provide an integrated system of roadway, public transit, pedestrian, and bicycle facilities to accommodate the travel needs of citizens, businesses, and visitors.”

I support this vision.

But Edmonton has been a city of automobiles for most of its history. Our neighbourhoods are primarily built around the car as a dominant mode of transportation.

So as we move to modernize our transportation infrastructure, and enable Edmontonians to use other modes of transportation, we must understand the tension this change will bring. We must be willing to listen very closely to those who have moved around our city exclusively in automobiles. When we introduce bike lanes that impact traffic like they have in south Edmonton, we cannot be surprised by, or glib about the confusion, frustration and backlash amongst drivers.

Since being elected, my conversations with Administration have suggested that the main motivation for prioritizing bike lanes in south Edmonton was that it more affordable to put them there.

Most of the costs of installing the bikes lanes are associated with fixing underlying roads.  Although bike lanes in core neighborhoods, like downtown and Old Strathcona, would be readily used, roads in these neighborhoods are in rough shape. Such rough shape, in fact, that an investment in these neighbourhoods would result in far less installed bike lanes than we could achieve by making the same investment in newer neighbourhoods.

This quantity before quality mentality begins with the funding decisions of City Council.

City Council, who is ultimately accountable for these changes must commit to quality over quantity when it comes to policy implementation. This means when we direct our administration to develop a modern Bicycle Transportation Plan we must fund it for success, rather than for failure.

We tried to save money by doing it on the cheap. As a results, communities that were excited about bicycle facilities are still waiting, and communities that were less excited have been forced frantically adjust to the new infrastructure.

Tomorrow night -  Tuesday, November 26th - at the Southside Pentecostal Assembly Gymnasium I am hosting a Bike Lanes Meeting for residents of Ward 10 and anyone committed to the success of our Bicycle Transportation Master Plan.

As we look forward to the 2014 and beyond we have three big challenges in my view:

  1. Ensuring the necessary resources are available to build safe bike lanes that will be well used, encourage more ridership and serve higher density core neighbourhoods year round where car traffic and cycle traffic are most likely to interact.

  2. Correct implementation errors made in south Edmonton that so many residents feel have created confusion, congestion, and safety concerns.

  3. Improve the consultation process with communities where bike lanes will be installed. The community consultation on the overall strategy was excellent, but clearly the consultation at the community level did not succeed in creating an educated and supportive public.

I am hopeful that Tuesday’s meeting will contribute to achieving the long-term success of our Bicycle Transportation Plan.

Ward 10 Bike Lanes Meeting- Community voice matters

Tuesday, November 26th

7:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. (Doors open at 6:30)

Southside Pentecostal Assembly Gymnasium

2821-109 Street, Edmonton AB.

Reflections on swearing in

The typically powerful roots of family and sacrifice buoyed me as I waited to be sworn in to Edmonton city council on October 29th.

My feelings that day reflected my disposition as a leader in our city. I was filled with memory, with gratitude and with hope.

My thanks to everyone

It’s been one week since the election. What a great night we had last Monday. Thanks to months of hard work, we won decisively.

I'm ready to work for you

Today is the last day of the campaign. The election is tomorrow.

I entered this election in April because I have been working to make Edmonton a better place for 20 years. 

Leading the Urban Ag conversation

Fresh is Edmonton’s food and urban agricultural strategy. It is a document that is worth reading and promoting because the City of Edmonton has a commitment to a strategy that is not only about sustainability in an ever growing municipal landscape, it focuses on opportunities that make our city a healthy community and healthy economy.

Snow clearing: Let’s be the best

Edmonton spends a lot of money on snow clearing.

Of course, we can't ignore our winters. The snow has to be dealt with. So why, with a $50 million dollar annual budget - double Calgary's - are so many citizens dissatisfied?

It's a complex matter. So let's set aside complaints for a moment and face some cold facts.

Investing in the early years

As a parent with two younger children, I believe that every child deserves a strong start in life. In fact, there is an abundance of research suggesting that much of a child’s health, wellbeing and success are shaped by the early years of life. That is why I have been an advocate for strong early years initiatives. In particular, I was involved in the development of the South West Edmonton Early Childhood Development Coalition.

Arts and culture makes cities great

I believe vibrant arts and culture make great cities. The Art of Living and Public Art Master Plan are strategic directions I support and embrace whole-heartedly.

A city of parks

In Skyrattler and Blue Quill (two Ward 10 communities) many people there are struggling against the city over the future use of their surplus plus school site land. The city technically considers the site a building envelope left over from the original development where a school was planned but never built. They were recently zoned for future infill housing development. But the community considers it important green space and they are fighting to protect it.

Bicycle Lanes need to make sense

I am committed to a full review of the bike lane strategy in South Edmonton and will host a public meeting on this topic within 30 days of being elected. I am very concerned about the confusion and subsequent safety issues arising for motorists and cyclists.

The Arena- success is the only option

The job of the next city council is to move forward with the Downtown Arena and Entertainment District. We must bring together those in favour of the downtown arena and those opposed, around its success.

Safe and connected communities

I grew up in a neighbourhood where down my street to the left, kids were taking harmful drugs in a park and to the right, kids were playing basketball and road hockey. But while I lucked out by finding strong mentors and support, not all of my friends did. Inspired by this reality, I have spent much of my adult life working with communities and supporting their energy to produce incredible outcomes.

Strip Malls and Coffee Shops

Many know that I have been like a dog on a bone when it comes to revitalizing the Petrolia Mall in Greenfield. Our communities deserve better.

A city that supports seniors

With an aging population that is increasingly relying on immigration for growth, Edmonton has been doing remarkable work to prepare our city to support seniors with changing demographics.