Show the Free Press the city’s worst spots for cycling
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 11/05/2015 (2770 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Bike lanes that lead nowhere or abruptly end, dangerous merges into traffic and a daily battle with cars for a share of the road.
These are the hindrances cyclists say they encounter daily as they navigate the streets of Winnipeg.
After years of planning, the city has finally released a comprehensive 20-year, $330-million strategy into tackling these issues in Winnipeg and making the city more pedestrian and cycling friendly.
The plan is making its way through city hall this month for final approval.
In the meantime, the Free Press is launching a project this week to help cyclists identify these troublesome areas and through our website, send in photos to help us map out the city’s worst spots for cyclists.
And it is a project city officials say they will pay attention to.
It is modelled after a similar project done in Sweden, by the Gteborgs-Posten, a daily newspaper based out of Gothenburg, which saw many cyclists participate and a vast map created.
Kevin Nixon, the city’s active transportation co-ordinator, said it is something that could help officials prioritize their future investments.
“It is really useful, because you can’t do everything, so if we get a lot of mentions of a particular issue, then we can make that our priority,” Nixon said.
“All of these proposed (bike paths) are extremely long and you just don’t get the money in one year’s budget to do the whole thing.”
Pathways such as the Bishop Grandin Greenway, which can get a cyclist from Sage Creek to FortWhyte Alive, is one example of a well-designed route the city has created, he noted.
The protected bike lane along Sherbrook Street is another example of a well-crafted route for cyclists, said Anders Swanson, the co-ordinator of the Winnipeg Trails Association.
‘No bike lanes, no calm streets, you’ll find you are on a street with a lot of traffic and cars trying to squeeze around you’
— Mark Cohoe on his typical commute
But, he points out, it will only function as well as what it is connected to.
“With a complete connected network, it is science, you build it and they actually will come, so every bicycle project that makes it safer and easier for people to ride bicycles is more people riding. Period,” he said.
“I think pointing out how many little or big barriers there are in the city, how much work needs to go into Winnipeg, I think one of the values is until you have these protected lanes, until you fix some of the barriers that are out there, it is tough for someone to understand it is possible.”
He points to the North End, where there is no safe way for cyclists to cross the Canadian Pacific rail yard, forcing cyclists to navigate dangerous connections such as the Arlington Bridge, which does not have a protected bike path.
For Mark Cohoe, the executive director of Bike Winnipeg, he describes his typical commute as one filled with barriers, as he battles to share the road with a heavy onslaught of traffic.
“No bike lanes, no calm streets, you’ll find you are on a street with a lot of traffic and cars trying to squeeze around you,” he said. “A lot of the pathways, you have to stop and dismount or cross multiple lanes of traffic.”
His nightmare intersection: the Pembina underpass, where more than 60,000 cars a day travel and cyclists are forced to squeeze through a narrow road shared with these cars.
However, creating a connected cycling network does not come cheap.
The city’s 20-year Cycling and Pedestrian Strategies report estimates creating a connected bicycle network throughout the city will cost $125 million, while creating separated crossings for cyclists and pedestrians at major corridors, rivers and rail crossings will cost a further $100 million.
On the books for 2016 is a $4-million plan to tackle issues along Pembina Highway, by building buffered bike lanes from Grant Avenue to Osborne Street.
Nixon, Cohoe and Swanson all argue the payoff — less wear and tear on the roads and less congestion, plus a healthier, more active community — are reasons even those who don’t cycle should embrace these sorts of investments.
“The fact is if we don’t create these alternatives for people to get through, the alternative to creating a safe space for people to be biking is to create more roadways, which is an incredibly more expensive alternative,” Cohoe said. “And it is more divisive. Those higher volume roadways are going to be coming through people’s neighbourhoods.”
Through a telephone survey conducted by the city, Nixon said they found a significant population of Winnipeg was interested in cycling, but were concerned about the safety and convenience of the current network.
“If you allow the people who want to get out of their cars, a bike is a lot less hard on the road than a vehicle is, it is also healthier for folks and we have to realize there is market out there for walking and cycling that we haven’t tapped into,” he said.
Updated on Monday, May 11, 2015 6:45 AM CDT: Replaces photo, adds link to map