Committee votes to hold off on downtown cycling strategy

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A lineup of advocates for the city’s pedestrian-and-cycling strategy arrived at city hall Wednesday to address Mayor Brian Bowman’s decision to delay the adoption of the city’s $330-million, 20-year strategy.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 13/05/2015 (2827 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A lineup of advocates for the city’s pedestrian-and-cycling strategy arrived at city hall Wednesday to address Mayor Brian Bowman’s decision to delay the adoption of the city’s $330-million, 20-year strategy.

There were few opponents.

Council’s executive policy committee unanimously approved Bowman’s motion to delay the vote on the strategy by more than a month.

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS A cyclist commutes during Winnipeg's morning rush hour Friday.

The delay is to allow further consultation with business owners and residents on infrastructure recommendations in the document.

Bowman said a handful of downtown businesses approached him with concerns involving parking and asked for additional time to read the extensive document.

“The feedback I received from some is that they didn’t feel that had enough time or avenues to provide their input to the process and I wanted to let them know we are listening,” he said after the meeting.

“When you look at the map, if you are under the presumption that the strategies are the final product, then I can understand and appreciate the concern of anyone looking at it.”

The 356-page document recommends a dense network of protected bicycle lanes be focused within the downtown core. This year, if approved by council on May 27, the city will allot $205,000 for the development of a functional design for the first phase of a downtown protected bike lane network at Fort Street and/or Garry Street.

Coun. Russ Wyatt has led the charge against the quick adoption of the strategy and has been advocating the city take a second look before adopting the document.

Earlier this week, the Free Press learned the Transcona councillor sent multiple letters to downtown businesses to inform them of the possible loss of parking resulting from the proposed protected bike lanes downtown.

After the meeting Wednesday, Wyatt said Bowman’s announcement Tuesday he would delay the strategy’s adoption quelled the naysayers.

“I think it was a genuine gesture by the mayor and the mayor’s staff so they want to respect that,” he said when asked why none of business owners concerned with the strategy attended the meeting.

Wyatt also takes issue with the proposal of creating “neighbourhood greenways” for non-arterial roads. The idea is to encourage cycling, walking and local traffic, which can include the use of traffic-calming measures such as speed humps or traffic-calming circles.

The strategy suggests Point Douglas, Seven Oaks East, River Heights and St. Boniface West are well-suited for extensive neighbourhood greenways.

Bowman was quick to remind councillors the document is only a strategy and said “nothing is cast in stone” when it comes to its contents. He said if there is anything council does not agree with, the action plans will still be voted on by council and further public consultation will occur.

Advocates such as Coun. Jenny Gerbasi, resident Len Van Roon, Winnipeg Trails Association co-ordinator Anders Swanson, and Stephanie Voyce of the Downtown BIZ all came to the meeting to speak in favour of the strategy.

Van Roon told members there is room for public consultation, but said he supports the 20-year strategy.

“We worry about the cost of cycling and walking infrastructure, but we are subsidizing cars and the repair costs,” Van Roon said, repeating the argument that more cyclists will save the city money on road repairs.

The strategy will now be sent to the new office of public engagement, which will review the consultation that was done prior to the creation of the strategy and make recommendations for future cycling/pedestrian projects.

It will come back to the city’s public works committee in June with the office of public engagement’s recommendations.

Meanwhile, the Free Press is asking Winnipeggers to point out the gaps they find in the city’s cycling infrastructure network. Readers can submit their photos, with a description of the intersection at wfp.to/cycling.

kristin.annable@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Wednesday, May 13, 2015 3:13 PM CDT: Updated with information

Updated on Wednesday, May 13, 2015 6:00 PM CDT: Writethru.

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