The city’s active-transportation guru says residents in north River Heights can expect bike-friendly roadways and calmer traffic when an ambitious construction project on Grosvenor Avenue is complete.
Construction is currently underway on the Grosvenor Bikeway, which is one of more than 35 projects included in a $20.4 million infrastructure initiative across Winnipeg, funded by all three levels of government, which was first announced in 2008.
According to the city, more than half of the projects are now underway.
"And as far as the Grosvenor Bikeway is concerned, it’s moving along well," said Kevin Nixon, the city’s active transportation co-ordinator.
"This was one of the ones that we had in the ground early, to try and spread it out before construction season ends."
Nixon said the bikeway along Grosvenor Avenue will comprise two key components — traffic-calming circles and curb bump-outs — to help calm the flow of traffic and encourage more cyclists to use the busy stretch of road, which is often used as an alternative route to Corydon Avenue.
Traffic-calming circles are small, landscaped islands located at the centre of a residential intersection. Nixon said they are not to be confused with roundabouts, as they are smaller — approximately four metres in diameter — and not designed to accommodate incoming traffic from multiple lanes.
The idea is that motorists and cyclists travel through the intersection in a counter-clockwise direction around the circle.
Upon entering the intersection, drivers must stay to the right of the circle. If a motorist is already in the intersection, they have the right-of-way over another motorist or cyclist entering. And if you arrive at the same time as another vehicle or cyclist, the user to the right has the right-of-way, Nixon said.
The traffic circles will be located at various street intersections along Grosvenor, including Lanark, Borebank, Brook, Waterloo and Waverley.
Nixon added that parking will still be retained at certain points along north side of Grosvenor Avenue, where three lanes will remain.
"Examples would be Stafford Street east to Wellington Crescent, where we will not be making any physical changes to Grosvenor Avenue," Nixon said.
"But yet in some respects, such as west of Cambridge Street, we will be losing some parking areas, as the houses don’t front on that side of Cambridge anyway."
Nixon said that, ultimately, more specific details will become clear, as the "bikeway is still in the middle of construction."
"The main reason for doing all of this is to increase the quality of life for Winnipeg’s citizens by integrating an effective active-transportation systems into their neighbourhoods," Nixon said.
"The key to this process has been to try and balance the needs of cyclists, motorists, and residents. And that’s not withstanding all the parking considerations that need to be considered in a busy residential neighbourhood."
Nixon said the work must be completed by March 2011, although the battle against time against the first snowfall has already begun.
One local resident, who has lived in the area for more than 25 years and currently resides on Cambridge, says drivers need to be "re-educated" about the rights of cyclists in Winnipeg.
"I know so many cyclists in the city that have had near misses with motorists and I also see many drivers get frustrated with them," said Elaine Smith. "In terms of the bike paths, it’s good that the city has made its mind up about this, because without changes more people are going to get killed."
Detailed plans of the Grosvenor Bikeway and the other transportation projects are available on the city’s website. Visit www.winnipeg.ca, click on active transportation and follow the links from there.