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City waiting for police investigation before making changes to bike routes

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City hall knows there is a demand for a protected bike route along Pembina Highway but officials refused to comment this afternoon on the need for safety improvements around Investors Group Field until a police investigation into the death of a cyclist this week has been completed.

Luis Escobar, the city’s manager of transportation, and Michael Jack, acting chief operating officer, said an active transportation policy for the stadium had been thoroughly researched before the stadium opened last year.

Escobar said the city is encouraging cyclists and pedestrians to use the designated active transportation routes to the stadium for the time being.

"Everybody has to use the rules of the road," Escobar said.

Escobar and Jack were responding to a call from Bombers CEO Wade Miller to review the city’s active transportation policy as it relates to the stadium, in light of the death of 69-year-old Dick Stevenson, who was struck by a vehicle while biking to Monday night’s pre-season game.

The city recognizes that cyclists want a protected route along Pembina Highway, Escobar said. That route is under consideration, he added, but there no plans as to when that would occur.

"We will wait to see what the Winnipeg Police service (investigation) finds and we’ll go from there," Escobar said.

Winnipeg Police said Stevenson was involved in a vehicle collision near Bishop Grandin Boulevard and Pembina Highway around 5:30 p.m. He was taken to hospital in unstable condition with a serious injury. Police reported late Wednesday afternoon that he had died from his injuries.

The bike route to the new stadium was singled out as a success story last year. Thousands of fans — adults and children — rode their bikes safely to Bomber games last year without incident.

Detailed active transportation routes to the stadium are available on the stadium website, including a route to bypass the Bishop Grandin-Pembina intersection from both the west and the north.

But that renewed concerns from the cycling community about safety on one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares.

Jack said civic officials met with Bombers last week and the team had not raised the issue of cyclist safety but he said the team now wants it discussed when the two sides meet again.

Miller said his call for a review isn't related to the team's recent dispute with city hall over the transit issue, adding the team has had longstanding concerns about both cyclists' and pedestrians' safety.

"On multiple occasions, we have expressed concerns about active transportation," Miller said. "Unfortunately, limited progress has been made in addressing some of the concerns. As a result of this week’s tragic death, I think it is the responsibility of all involved to make their voices heard to ensure fan safety is paramount."

Miller said the team is concerned about the lack of street lighting along Chancellor Matheson Drive and the safety threat that poses to pedestrians.

"My concerns are about fan safety for those who choose to cycle or walk to the stadium," Miller said, adding he’s looking forward to resolving the issues as soon as possible.

Escobar said the City of Winnipeg is committed to active transportation, adding more than $85 million has been spent since 2008 in the establishment of 300 kilometres of active transportation routes across the city.

Escobar said any changes or upgrades to the bike route will be considered only after the conclusion of the police investigation and a report calling for such modifications.


Updated on Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 5:40 PM CDT: Updates with write-thru.

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