A place for cyclists

Local bikers will be happy to know they can soon safely travel along some City streets.

Advocates for bike lanes have long been urging the City to bring the vision to fruition. They want to see the City become a bicycle friendly community by allowing cyclists their own space where they can commute safely and efficiently on the roads. They also point to advantages such as less pollution and of course how it contributes to a healthier lifestyle.

They’ve also noted that Alberta cities in general don’t offer much in the way of specific lanes for cyclists. But in several Canadian cities such as Vancouver, Winnipeg and Toronto, they are well-used.

Meanwhile, motorists often believe they have the right of way on the road and become annoyed with cyclists who travel too slowly or weave into traffic lanes. Frequently, sidewalks and multi-use trails are only on one side of the road meaning that the cyclist using these trails is going against the flow of traffic half of the time, and entering the intersection from the wrong direction.

Kudos to City council for at least getting started on a Commuter Bike Pilot Program. This week, council approved four areas in the City where bike lanes will be installed.

These locations include Riverside Dr. from 67 St. to the Three Mile Bend access; Riverview Ave. from 60th St. to 65th St.; Kerrywood Dr. from Fir St. to Overland Place and Cronquist Dr. from 54th Ave. to Webster Dr. Because there is so much reconstruction going on this summer, the ability to move ahead with these routes is not possible this year. The steering committee is therefore exploring other opportunities for on-street links in 2011.

It may seem like a small beginning but there’s little doubt this project will grow to include far more areas throughout Red Deer. These links have been described as ‘quick wins’ which allow for public exposure to what bike routes could be for the City. It should also spur some enthusiasm for more cyclists to consider using their bikes on their daily commutes down the road. A special promotion to build awareness about the plan is also being developed.

The cost for these land installations is about $56,000 and they will be funded from the previously approved capital budget for the pilot of $800,000.

Bikers’ push for action has paid off. It’s money well spent bringing the City to a higher level, and makes Red Deer that much more of an attractive community to call home.