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Bombers urge city to make streets safer for bike riders

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The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are calling on the city to devise a plan that ensures the safety of cyclists and pedestrians heading to games -- after a man riding a bike to Monday's preseason contest was struck and killed by a vehicle.

Avid Bomber fan and longtime season ticket-holder Dick Stevenson, 69, suffered head injuries when he was hit by a car on Pembina Highway near Bishop Grandin Boulevard at about 5:30 p.m.

He was wearing a helmet, a family friend said. He died Tuesday morning.

This morning, Bomber president and CEO Wade Miller asked the city "to immediately review and assess all active transportation routes and infrastructure leading to Investors Group Field."

"Ensuring fan safety is paramount," said Miller, "especially for fans who are walking or cycling to and from Investors Group Field."

Miller pointed to the Bike Valet program as just one example of how fans have embraced the city's Active Transportation Plan. But he said more needs to be done to ensure cyclists and pedestrians are kept as safe as possible at all times.

Mayoral candidates Paula Havixbeck and Judy Wasylycia-Leis said the city should react in light of Stevenson’s death.

Havixbeck, city councillor for Charleswood-Tuxedo, said city hall is responsible for ensuring bike routes are properly signed and safe, adding however that she doesn’t know if the bike route had anything to do with Stevenson’s death.

"We should be working collaboratively with groups like the Bombers to identify and correct any and all particularly unsafe conditions and to continually work towards improving safety and positive citizen experiences," Havixbeck said.

Wasylycia-Leis said she supports Miller’s request to review the city’s policy.

"I was at that game – it was a glorious night and learned after the fact that an avid Blue Bomber fan was killed in a cycling accident on the way to that game," Wasylycia-Leis said. "I think Wade’s request is an important one and should be acted upon immediately."

Wasylycia-Leis said the city needs to know if it’s taken all needed measures to ensure that cycling can be done safely anywhere in Winnipeg, adding everyone knows there are transportation problems with Investors Group Field.

"We want to make that stadium work. We want to make sure people get there safely and we want this to be an attraction."

City officials will respond at 3 p.m. to Miller’s call for a review of the active transportation policy to Investors Group Field stadium.

Brian Bowman cautioned about rushing to judgment on the circumstances surrounding Stevenson’s death, but added it is appropriate to question the city’s policy as a result of the tragedy.

"Ideally, I’d expect the city would be working with partners like the Bombers to review the safety of our transportation plans," Bowman said, adding he’d welcome public input into how improvements can be made to the cycling network.

Last spring, during the initial traffic mayhem that surrounded the opening of the new stadium at the University of Manitoba, many opted to bike to games as the quickest and most reliable way to go. But that renewed long-standing worries about cycling safety on one of Winnipeg's busiest roads.

Cycling advocates locally and internationally argue protected lanes are the safest for cyclists and motorists alike and do the most to encourage people to bike.

History

Updated on Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 1:10 PM CDT: Adds comments from Havixbeck, Wasylycia-Leis

2:44 PM: Adds comments from Brian Bowman, notes city will comment at 3 p.m.

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