Commuter Bike pilot project needs evaluation

Program introduced to City this past summer

Red Deer saw the addition of commuter bike lanes this year as a pilot project before the City would approve the spending of any more money towards the project.

“Originally the request was for $800,000 to do a more extensive commuter bike pilot but we’ve only done a small portion of that,” said Councillor Chris Stephan.

The routes that were completed through 2011 were described as being low-impact routes and ones that had decent connectivity to existing paths including park paths, roadways and bikeways.

The resolution from July of this year approved four routes including ones along Riverside Dr., Riverview Ave., Kerry Wood Dr. and Cronquist Dr.

Public Works Manager Frank Colosimo said the lanes were meant to have a low impact on parking for the year and would allow the City to see what the potential for bike lanes could be.

Some council members said they were hesitant to count the number of people using the bike lanes because they’re not extensive routes and don’t cover a large portion of the City.

Stephan said the existing lanes would give a general idea of how much usage a full circuit would see and that the chosen areas would be a good gauge of the enthusiasm of cyclists in Red Deer.

“Council is mixed on this. Most of council wants to see it fully implemented before evaluation,” said Stephan.

The item was tabled from this week’s council meeting until next April. At that point a report will come from the Engineering Services Department.

The motion to table the item came with the support of Colosimo along with the Red Deer Association of Bicycle Commuters, the Primary Care Network, ReThink Red Deer and Safe Communities.

As of Aug. 12 of this year the City encouraged the public to get out and use the bike lanes and provide their feedback regarding whether or not they would like to see the project expanded.

Many Red Deerians hope to see a continuation of the project in the near future.

City Manager Craig Curtis said early on that part of the criteria for the routes was that they wouldn’t affect or interfere with current construction projects in the City.

The Red Deer Association of Bicycle Commuters was not overly impressed this summer with the routes chosen as the pilot project and said they would like to see a further expanded project.

The recommendations for safety still stand as Councillor Paul Harris had originally stated. He would like to see barricades for the lanes so that all ages feel safe using the bike lanes.

Stephan specifically reiterated that he would still like to see a report on the usage before any further expansions are approved.