Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

NDP backs improved bikeways in city

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NDP MLA Dave Gaudreau

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The Selinger government wants to increase co-operation with the city to improve active-transportation routes in Winnipeg, particularly leading into Investors Group Field.

St. Norbert NDP MLA Dave Gaudreau, whose riding is south of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' new home, said the province has already undertaken several cost-sharing projects with the city and is eager to do more to improve cycling paths.

"Active transportation is part of the conversation now. We look at it with all projects, if it's viable. But it's going to take some time to catch up. For 20 years, for 100 years, nobody thought about it. Now it's coming to the forefront. In everything we do, we put that lens on it. What can we do to make it safe?" said Gaudreau, an avid cyclist.

It has taken the death of a cyclist travelling to the Bombers exhibition game last week to get the issue off the back burner. Dick Stevenson died the morning after being hit by a vehicle on Pembina Highway.

In particular, Gaudreau would like to see the bike path between Chevrier Boulevard and Plaza Drive extended in both directions.

"I think that's the answer when we redevelop streets. Punch the street out a little bit and create a safe zone for the cyclists," he said.

Gaudreau pointed out there is a bike path off Pembina that takes cyclists underneath the Bishop Grandin bridge but it's not well-marked and it takes longer than staying on Pembina.

"A lot of cyclists don't want to go two kilometres out of their way just to ride on the side streets," he said. Gaudreau said it's not possible to have concrete dividers for bike lanes in Winnipeg because of snow-plowing needs, a problem many cyclist-friendly cities don't have.

The health of Manitobans should also be factored into the equation, he said. If people are riding bikes more and leaving vehicles at home, they'll put less strain on health care, he said.

University of Manitoba spokesman John Danakas said the school won't take a lead role, but backs efforts "to encourage safe bike use to the Fort Garry campus for stadium events as well as for regular access for staff and students."

A city spokeswoman said last week active transportation is a top priority. She pointed to the $85 million the city has spent on it since 2008.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 17, 2014 A3

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