Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Blue want safe streets for fans

City won't act until probe into fatal accident is complete

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A protected bike route along Pembina Highway that might have saved the life of cyclist Dick Stevenson was under consideration by the city's active-transportation planners.

Despite the outcry over Stevenson's death while en route to Monday's Winnipeg Blue Bombers game, city hall is holding off on any talk of safety improvements until the police finish the investigation into his fatal accident.

"We will wait to see what the Winnipeg Police Service (investigation) finds and we'll go from there," said Luis Escobar, the city's manager of transportation.

Escobar said the city recognizes cyclists want a protected route along Pembina Highway, adding it is under consideration, but there are no plans as to when that would occur.

In the meantime, Escobar said, the city is encouraging cyclists and pedestrians to use the designated active- transportation routes to the stadium.

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

Escobar, who was joined at a news conference Thursday by Michael Jack, acting chief operating officer, said an active transportation policy for Investors Group Field was thoroughly researched before the stadium opened last year. Escobar and Jack were responding to a call from Blue Bombers president Wade Miller Thursday to review the city's active-transportation policy as it relates to the stadium in the light of Stevenson's death.

Winnipeg police said Stevenson, 69, was involved in a vehicle collision on Pembina Highway near Bishop Grandin Boulevard around 5:30 p.m. He was taken to hospital in unstable condition and died from his injuries.

"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 also 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.

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 (investorsgroupfield.ca), including a route to bypass the Bishop Grandin-Pembina intersection from both the west and the north.

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

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

Miller said his call for a review is not connected to the recent dispute with city hall over the transit issue, adding the team has had long-standing concerns about both cyclist and pedestrian safety.

Escobar said the city 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.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 13, 2014 A3

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