Cycling and walking advocates lined up at city hall to discuss the benefits of the city’s new $330-million active transportation strategy.

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This article was published 5/5/2015 (2368 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Cycling and walking advocates lined up at city hall to discuss the benefits of the city’s new $330-million active transportation strategy.

Representatives from Bike Winnipeg, Winnipeg Trails Association, Green Action Network, Downtown BIZ, along with Coun. Jenny Gerbasi spoke in favour of the 20-year strategy which calls to improve the city’s infrastructure to benefit cyclists and pedestrians at the city’s public works committee Tuesday.

The 356-page strategy was released on Friday.

The city also released the public service’s proposed infrastructure projects for cycling and pedestrians for 2015 on Friday.

Stephanie Voyce, manager of transportation, placemaking and cleanliness with the Downtown BIZ, asked public the committee to consider supporting a pilot program which would see temporary protected bike lanes created to connect areas of the city to the downtown.

For four Sundays in August and September, temporary lanes created from traffic cones would connect areas such as Kildonan Park and Assinboine Park to the downtown.

The idea is to fill in the current gaps that exist in the city’s bike lane infrastructure, she said.

Meanwhile, Anders Swanson of the Winnipeg Trails Association, commended the city for releasing a strategy, but called for the city to move faster on getting more protected bike lanes across the city.

"Every street, small or big, needs to include cycling/walking improvements. Period," Swanson told the committee.

He noted cities such as Vancouver, Indianapolis and Calgary are already ahead of Winnipeg in building protected bike lanes, adding it encourages cycling in the city by up to 40 per cent.

Mark Cohoe of Bike Winnipeg listed off a number of bike lanes in the city that need to be extended or created such as extending King Edward Street across the railroad tracks, upgrading Ferry Road to protected bike lane, and extending the Jefferson Street lane past McPhillips Street.

However, not everyone was happy with the contents of the strategy. Transcona Coun. Russ Wyatt called it a tremendous report, but pointed to a specific caveat of the document which recommended the city look at changing the priorities of sidewalk snow clearing.

"They are recommending creating a special sidewalks category, that would require... folks to shovel their own sidewalks," he said, noting in the report they would take the savings from that and put it towards snow removal on the bike path system.

He said he will vote against the strategy if it comes to council in its current form, arguing more public consultation needs to occur.

He also questioned the impact on traffic some of the proposed pedestrian infrastructure recommendations will have on traffic.

"This is a major change that is being recommended," Wyatt told the committee.

Committee chair Coun. Janice Lukes fired back at Wyatt’s opposition to the strategy, saying every aspect of the report will have to go through public consultation and council before it is implemented.

"We will be doing in-depth consultation on any project that we undertake," she said. "There is no proposal to get residents to clear their own sidewalks, there is many, many recommendations... these are things that could be considered."

Looking to the future, however, Lukes said the city will have to take a closer look at how snow is cleared from sidewalks frequently used by pedestrians.

And residents shoveling their own sidewalks might have to happen.

"I think with consultation with communities and neighbourhoods, that is the only way to go about it," she said.

 

Krisitn.annable@freepress.mb.ca