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, which 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 result, communities that were excited about bicycle facilities are still waiting, and communities that were less excited have been forced to frantically adjust to the new infrastructure.
Tomorrow night - Tuesday, November 26th at 7 p.m. - 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:
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.
Correct implementation errors made in south Edmonton that so many residents feel have created confusion, congestion, and safety concerns.
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.
Earlier this year a cyclist was struck and killed in the intersection of 127 St (a bike route) and 111 Avenue. A factor in the accident was visibility due to the sun being low on the horizon. It is not just a question of winter cycling but cyclist’s overall safety and minimizing the mixing zones. I myself had to brake hard for a cyclist recently who darted behind an ETS bus that had stopped to make a left hand turn. Had I not seen the cyclist in the dark just before they disappeared from view, I would not have time to brake for him. Both of these incidences show the need for better education of both motorists and cyclists.
I checked out both Whitehorse and Oulu (thanks) and while they do show that winter cycling can be a safe activity, neither city has anything near the population density of Edmonton meaning that there is more green space to incorporate cycling and less traffic congestion. Europen cities to do not have to deal with our silly checkerboard layout with it’s numerous intersections and bottlenecks. Perhaps we should compare with Calgary as they have the second highest number of vehicles per capita of any city in the world (and a snow clearing budget that is half of ours).
A local model that I would use as an example of how to build a bike route would be 119/122 Street from 23 Ave to the University. There is an extra wide dual-use sidewalk, use of the University Farm land, a pedestrian/cycle bridge, route through a quiet neighbourhood, and a cross-light on University Avenue. Another similar example is 91 St (bike path) through Mill Creek ravine to Downtown – so why did they have to put in a bike lane only 6 blocks away on 97St through an industrial area?
Whitehorse – a more northern city has a higher winter cycling rate than Edmonton. Or for example another northern city Oulu in Finland http://youtu.be/bE6tvufOTqo. Edmonton is a unique city but not enough different that we have to reinvent the policies, infrastructure, and systems that have worked in other similar cities in the world.
One of the main stumbling blocks on this issue is our culture/mindset – individual, societal, and engineering/planning. We have developed a motor vehicle centric physical and mental environment. But this is changing and the city and society needs to evolve with this movement. A movement that is about healthier lifestyle, healthier ways to transport yourself, healthier environments, and a city that reflects our concerns.
I don’t understand when you say that the new bike lanes were made for the 15% that feel safe cycling on present city infrastructure. I believe they were built to encourage more people to cycle since these people already have infrastructure that works for them. The city has not made some good designs recently and I have chastised them over this. They do not serve the cyclists nor the other roadway users.
Being an honest cyclist I have fallen on icy roads and being an honest driver I know that there were times that the conditions were not conducive to driving or safe – the roads/intersections were slippery and stopping and steering was dangerous.
I have not heard of a cyclist falling in traffic and being injured due to icy conditions. Most cyclists are travelling quite slowly in winter and so the falls happen quite slowly and the ground is softer.
I agree that for the most part cyclists and motor vehicles should be separated. The city should invest in top quality bicycle infrastructure that is well maintained in all seasons and in places where people will use the built infrastructure. So I assume you would support the investment of several of the proposed bicycle routes in Strathcona (http://greenedmonton.ca/) and Oliver.
The city is trying but unfortunately they have made some mistakes. As Michael Walters says there is a difference between quantity versus quality. We should work on quality quantity.
The bicycle and active transportation is coming.
If Edmonton is going to be a world class city then they need to develop on many fronts and one of them is supporting active transportation and support the desire of their citizens to have healthier transportation options.
There was a lack of political will to create the infrastructure to improve the safety and cyclability of our streets.
Cyclists have been part of each of these consultations and each time they have really got extremely little out of it.
It is time… No, actually – it is past the time that energy, time and money be invested in cycling infrastructure to improve the safety and traffic flows. We need to really start on this in a committed manner.