City gives green light to expansion of bike lanes

After last year’s implementation of four bike lane routes in the City, council has decided to go ahead with a continuation of the project this summer.

Engineering Services Manager Frank Colosimo said after the work last year they evaluated some locations where cycling lanes could be further initiated.

Michael Williston, transportation engineer, said the objectives are to expand the on street network to create better cycling connections and to create better connectivity through the City.

“In a 2011 online survey we had 270 surveys submitted and 75 per cent of respondents said they would like to see more bike lanes in the City,” said Williston.

Of the 270 responses 21% of those who said they use the bike lanes said they would like more downtown connections and 14% said they would use more north Red Deer connections.

The priorities for this year from highest to lowest are to create more inner City routes, routes north of the river, 39th St. to Spruce Dr., 45th Ave. to Heritage Ranch and 40th Ave. and 55th St. routes.

One of the goals to encourage people to cycle more is to create bike corrals at popular spots including the farmers market where parking is sometimes hard to find.

“Our goal is create continuous links and where we have been able to we are putting down what we propose to be bike lanes as well as keeping parking lanes,” said Williston.

One complaint of council members is that some parking lanes would be eliminated to allow for the bike lanes in portions of the City including along 40th Ave.

One of the new proposed routes would take cyclists to the downtown recreation facility but Councillor Tara Veer suggested that this could further compound problems in the area.

“This would just exacerbate an already existing parking issue where the Golden Circle already is and the spray park is proposed to be,” said Veer.

Williston said this problem had been addressed and that minimal parking would be removed in this area, as there are existing paths that can be used.

In some areas, a suggested ‘shared’ lane is being proposed that would allow for parking as well as cycling.

Funding for the project comes in at $800,000 but $175,000 of that has been deemed reinstatement funds should the lanes not work.

“My recommendation is that we do the five routes and then defer the funding for the reinstatement to 2014. We need a complete system to try this out and see if it will work,” said City Manager Craig Curtis.

Councillor Chris Stephan said he was happy with the lanes that were put in last year because they didn’t remove parking or increase traffic in the areas that they were done.

“Reducing the travel lanes in the areas we’re looking at will have a major impact and some of these roads already have high congestion,” said Stephan.

Veer and Stephan opposed the resolution to go ahead with the five new routes in 2012 while the other councillors and mayor supported the decision.

“I support a pilot but was hoping for more of a phased approach with a grid that looks at what the bicycle commuter community had said they wanted,” said Veer.

The lanes would be implemented between June and August of this year.