A new bike lane appears to have Winnipeg on the right track.
Earlier this week, the city announced plans to construct a new dedicated bike lane on Sherbrook Street running north from the Maryland Bridge to Cumberland Avenue. Part of this lane includes a parking-protected section for cyclists, a stretch of lane that will feature a row of parked cars serving as a physical divide between riders and traffic.
'We've been pushing for something like this, whether it's a separated cycle track or a protected bike lane, for a long time'
The protected section of the lane, which should open to cyclists this summer, is widely considered a trial project for lanes of this kind in the city. The premise has city cycling advocates excited for what the future could hold for those interested in getting around on two wheels.
"We've been pushing for something like this, whether it's a separated cycle track or a protected bike lane, for a long time," Bike Winnipeg executive director Mark Cohoe said Thursday.
"We've been working with the city on Sherbrook since 2010 so we're excited to see it's coming through.
"We hope this is the start of more improvements to the bike infrastructure in the city. One of the biggest fears we hear from cyclists is that fear of traffic and having to mix in between the traffic. This project will be worth the wait."
The new lane will be split into three sections. The parking-protected stage will run from Wolseley Avenue to Broadway, on the right side of the one-way street. Cyclists will ride between the parked cars (which will now be 24-hour parking) and the sidewalk, with some curb bump-outs to alert motorists of the bike lane when parking.
Unlike the wider bike lanes and sidewalk ramps on Pembina Highway (between Chevrier Boulevard and Plaza Drive), which continue to create confusion between cyclists and pedestrians, Winnipeg Transit users will find the new bike lane environment on Sherbrook a little easier to navigate. Bicycles will stay on the street, Cohoe said.
The second section (from Broadway to Ellice Avenue) will be a wider, clearly marked lane to the left of the parked cars adjacent to traffic.
Between Ellice and Cumberland avenues, the lane will slide up against the curb on the right side of the street, similar to the bike lane that runs along Maryland Street in the other direction. The city has indicated two white painted lines on the roadway will provide more navigation room for cyclists travelling along Sherbrook.
"It will have a little more buffer to it, a little more space," Cohoe said.
Cohoe said the existing width of Sherbrook is the biggest reason the project is going ahead, as retrofitting proper bike lanes into the current city layout on the cheap is proving to be a challenge for active transportation hopefuls.
"We're going to continue to push to get a little more width in some spaces, but this is a good first step," he said.