I know many would like to see some of the bike lanes removed tomorrow. This has been the dominant view from the residents of my Ward over the past year. These lanes have been irritating, confusing, and not maintained properly in the winter when they disappear beneath the snow for months. Most people tell me they will never use them. They just don’t feel safe. But let’s be honest. It’s not possible to remove them tomorrow. It costs money to do this, potentially a lot. But they could be improved and changed or moved in time. And I am working hard to make this happen.
From Michael Walters for Ward 10 Flyer, Oct. 2013
More importantly we’ve created a smarter bike plan for Edmonton.
- Focus future bike lane installation on high quality, separated from traffic, lanes in higher density neighbourhoods in the city’s core. These facilities are currently being planned and will be debated in our upcoming capital budget.
- Future lanes and the routes they take through communities will be planned with extensive community consultation and will likely achieve much higher buy in as a result.
- Performance standards, including clear measures and targets for existing and future bike lanes ridership are being developed
- We’re also working on a funding strategy to change, move or separate from traffic, on street lanes when they are not performing to these standards and where community opposition remains strong.
People have said overwhelmingly they support a bike network, but they do not support the on street lanes that mix with all other modes. I agree. Over the long term we can hope that residents in my Ward will have safer higher quality bike lanes and multi use trails that don't have to mix with traffic. These would of course tie into the core.
This plan has been developed over the course of the last year, through thoughtful and creative engagement. Over 350 people attended the bike lanes forum last November hosted in partnership with the Centre for Public Involvement. Hundreds of responses were provided on the online survey, and my office has received hundreds more phone calls and emails. Key leaders in the Ward participated in a focus group with the members of Administration most involved with the bike lanes. Seniors and pre-school children alike joined me on a tour of the lanes, guided by one of the key authors of the Edmonton Bicycle Transportation Plan. I think it is fair to say that we did significantly more consultation in Ward 10 last year than was done leading up to the installation of these lanes.
And even more consultation is coming to Ward 10. Administration must now work with communities in Greenfield, Royal Gardens, Aspen Gardens and Duggan to deal with persistent safety concerns around two key intersections adjacent to multiple schools where drop off zones, ETS buses, school buses and rush hour traffic all mix with on street bike lanes.
All of this consultation will be for nothing if we, as a City, are not willing to admit our past mistakes. Refusal to admit that our first attempt at implementing bicycle infrastructure in Edmonton has not achieved its intended goals could sour the publics support for further expenditures on the bike plan.
On the other hand, if we are open minded and able to admit that some mistakes were made, even if it means removing or relocating some existing on street bicycle infrastructure, we will create a more hopeful future for our bike plan, and for the needed lanes in core neighbourhoods.
It's time to make our conversation about active transportation and cycling more inclusive. It cannot just be about the strong and fearless year round cyclist who is unafraid to elbow for space with cars and pick up trucks. I believe strongly in the 8-80 vision of active transportation. We must design our city, including bike lanes for people who are 8 years old and who are 80 years old and for everyone in between. You don’t achieve this through a line on a road with no actual separation from the traffic now pressed into a single lane beside it.
I have said this before, and I will say it again; Our Bike Master Plan should be about increasing the number of people riding bikes safely. We must stop defending symbolic investments in bike transportation and move toward transformative ones.
Updated Oct. 18-2014