Fish’s fireworks spark consternation among cyclists

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Dylon Martin has biked to work every day for 12 years. A few times each year, his regular route home is blocked by the temporary closure of Waterfront Drive for firework shows following select Winnipeg Goldeyes games.

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Dylon Martin has biked to work every day for 12 years. A few times each year, his regular route home is blocked by the temporary closure of Waterfront Drive for firework shows following select Winnipeg Goldeyes games.

The street in downtown Winnipeg is closed for roughly eight hours from Lombard Avenue to Pioneer Avenue those nights — and its impact is felt by those who use the route, the 31-year-old says.

“The transportation trail on Waterfront is to cyclists what Portage and Main is to vehicles and traffic. It adds 20 to 30 minutes to my commute every time it’s closed.”

Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press FILES Fireworks go off after a Winnipeg Goldeyes game at Shaw Park. While fans in the stands enjoy the shows, cyclists whose route is closed due to the displays are asking for changes.

The Goldeyes have been hosting firework shows every year since moving to Shaw Park in 1999. This year, a petition to keep Waterfront Drive’s bike path (skirting the ballpark’s outfield wall) open during those select games has received more than 100 virtual signatures.

“I don’t think there’s a safe detour for cyclists. It’s not easy to take a five-block detour on foot, bike or by wheelchair, so there needs to be more attention to providing safe and not terribly out of the way detours when critical pieces of our active transportation network are disrupted for whatever reason,” Martin said.

A representative from the Goldeyes said the team isn’t trying to be a problem.

“We’ve been doing this for over 20 years. We want everyone to be happy and we’re not trying to make it inconvenient for anyone, but we’re trying to entertain our fans, and for us to safely have fireworks on those occasions, we need to close those access ways to keep everyone safe.”

The Goldeyes hold permits and permission from the City of Winnipeg and The Forks, which allow them to display the fireworks and close off the street. They also advertise the dates of the firework shows on the team website.

“Fireworks have been a huge attraction for us for over 20 years and we think that six nights out of 41/2 months isn’t that obtrusive,” the team representative said. “We’ve had discussions since our last fireworks night, about how we can better inform fans, what alternate routes we can take and what better signage we can use.”

One cyclist who asked to remain anonymous said if the road continues to be blocked, they will look to organize a sit-in protest on the street.

“I’ve reached out to the city, councillors, the mayor and enforcement officers about the issue and don’t know what to do next,” the cyclist said. “Not everyone has internet or a cellphone to check their website to see if their regular route will be closed that day.”

The Goldeyes have four scheduled fireworks shows remaining this summer: June 30, July 14, Aug. 12 and Sept. 3.

bryce.hunt@freepress.mb.ca

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