Edmonton's planned high-quality bike routes
After the bike wars of 2012, Edmonton city council has decided to rethink and reboot their strategy. Following the strong leadership of new councillor Michael Walters, YEG has decided to focus resources on building excellent, family-friendly bike infrastructure where cycling rates are already high, the city's core neighbourhoods.
So administration released the above map last week. Except for the 51s Avenue route, which to me doesn't follow the "build it in dense areas where the demand is highest" rule, I love the routes that they've suggested (these routes aren't set in stone, as they are subject to a new, very thorough consultation process that leaves the exact route as an option for the community to decide).
I did see something missing in the Strathcona area though. While there is a really nice grid downtown, there are no north-south routes in Edmonton's busiest cycling neighbourhood. So I attended a meeting of our most responsive level of government yesterday, and I was delighted with the results.
My proposal is to add a north-south route in the counterflow bus lane that travels north, parallel to Calgary Trail. I blogged about the idea here, and these are the simple pictures that I showed the transportation committee:
Proposed two-way cycle track on the 104 Street counterflow bus lane
Location of the proposed two-way cycle track, the 104 Street counterflow bus lane
I was very happy when the committee put forward a motion for administration to look into north-south routes in the Strathcona neighbourhood. Overall, the councillors were thoughtful and intelligent (With the exception of the always-hilarious Councillor Catarina. I know that I shouldn't say anything if I don't have anything nice to say, but Catarina's rude, uninformed manner were an insult to his post yesterday).
Council is on the right track with its idea of only building Holland-quality routes, and putting them where they will be appreciated. So what in in store for the next six months? First of all, these routes are not yet funded. This Fall, council will vote on a four-year capital budget that may or may not fund the routes. It is critical to Edmonton's future as a cycling city that all of the routes (perhaps with the 51 Avenue one being replaced by a north-south Strathcona route) be fully funded. Secondly, these routes need to remain high quality. We, the cycling community, cannot accept any but the most minor concessions to them being high quality routes. No more sharrows!
There are two consultation processes going on right now, one each for the 83rd Avenue and 102 Avenue routes. Participate in either or both processes (83rd here, and 102 here), and stress the need for safe, comfortable, high quality routes. Also, contact your city councillor about funding these routes in the Fall. They will be under pressure to save money in the budget, but the comparitively (to other traffic infrastructure) modest outlay that they will require needs to be allocated.
Edmonton's bicycle riders have waited many years to have some infrastructure available to us. We are many years behind cities like Calgary and Vancouver. It's time to get these routes funded, and to build them well. Council didn't disappoint me yesterday, and I expect even more of them when it comes time to finally fund these safe, family-friendly bike routes.