Edmonton approves downtown bike network for summer 2017

Following in Calgary’s footsteps, Edmonton City Council has unanimously approved building a network of protected bike lanes through downtown Edmonton, to open summer 2017.

Thank you for sending us your stories, and for writing to your councillors, and a huge thanks to Paths for People for their work to make this happen. Please join Paths for People if you haven’t already, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

“We have been just inundated with demand from people who want to cycle and just don’t feel safe,” said Coun. Scott McKeen, urging his colleagues to vote for the plan.

Please write to your councillor one more time: to join us in thanking them for their leadership and for supporting this decision. 

You can also send a tweet to Keith Shillington, Senior VP at Stantec, @shillington_k thanking him and Stantec for their initiative and the donation of their resources in developing this plan.

Edmonton’s Downtown Grid

Stantec donated resources to develop a downtown bike network plan. The City of Edmonton has already started more detailed design work. The current plan is to open the grid by the summer of 2017; city administration has agreed that this is feasible, though an aggressive schedule. You can read a summary of the plan here.

Councillor Scott McKeen brought forward the original motion to study a minimum grid in July, with Coun. Ben Henderson amending it to consider a minimum grid including the entire core, including Old Strathcona. Due to constricted resources and timelines, Stantec’s report only studied the downtown, but Mayor Don Iveson added a motion on Tuesday to look at using provincial or federal grants to help expand the grid to the University/Strathcona area in 2018.

You can watch video of the vote and view the bike grid reports by clicking on agenda item 6.12.

Contact your provincial and federal representatives

Federal Transportation Minister Amarjeet Sohi has responded, “We are seriously exploring how do we support municipalities to build the sustainable modes of transportation, dedicated cycling infrastructure, or other ways to reduce our dependency on the personal automobile.”

Edmonton-Centre MLA David Shepherd also expressed his support of the downtown grid.

You can contact your provincial and federal representatives to ask them to support active transportation funding for municipalities, which will help Edmonton to expand the grid to Strathcona:

Learning from Calgary’s success

Edmonton’s bike grid is specifically designed for Edmonton, with very careful analysis of each road, but the concept is modelled after Calgary’s downtown bike grid, which was also designed by Stantec. Their grid, which only opened in 2015, has been hugely popular.

In 2011, there were just six communities in Calgary where at least four per cent of respondents reported commuting by bike. In 2016, that had risen to 43 communities. Ridership on some stretches of their network has doubled, tripled, or even quadrupled in two years.

calgary-modesplit-bike-2016

Next steps

As Edmonton pushes forward with its bike network, two priorities emerge:

  • Secure bike parking: Are there enough places downtown for commuters to secure their bikes? If you are concerned about the facilities in your workplace, please talk to your building manager, or get in touch with us. The Oxford Cycle Centre in Edmonton City Centre Mall, provided exclusively for staff in that building and tower complex and easily accessed through an attached parkade, includes lockers, showers, towel service, a bike washing station, and a bike repair stand with pump and tools:

  • Strathcona/University area: Contact your provincial and federal representatives to express support for providing funding to municipalities for active transportation projects, so that Edmonton can expand the grid in 2018. Also tell Brian Mason that you support a High Level Park across the upper deck of the High Level Bridge, so that we can properly connect the north and south sides.

Thank you again to the Mayor, City Council, Paths for People, Stantec and everyone that wrote in support of the downtown grid. We are excited to celebrate this momentous turning point for Edmonton.

 

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