It’s a no man’s land for cyclists.

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This article was published 14/6/2015 (2193 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

It’s a no man’s land for cyclists.

A 500-metre stretch of Pembina Highway where the bicycle lane ends plunges cyclists into six lanes of traffic and makes it almost impossible to safely turn left while heading south. 

This well-travelled overpass at Bishop Grandin Boulevard between Plaza Drive and University Crescent is the cyclist’s gateway to Investors Group Field and the University of Manitoba.

Free Press readers say it’s a death trap that has killed before — and will kill again.

Last week marked the one-year anniversary of the death of Richard Stevenson, the 69-year-old cyclist who was struck by a car as he headed toward the stadium to catch a preseason Blue Bombers game.

His widow, Maria Stevenson, said her husband, an experienced cyclist, was attempting to turn left on Pembina Highway near Bishop Grandin Boulevard towards the stadium when he was struck by a car. Stevenson, who died in hospital, was wearing a helmet.

"I knew that was a very dangerous spot and although he wears his helmet, he was a motorcycle driver, he knew the road very well. That is a dangerous spot for anybody and he was healthy, sober, wide awake," she said.

"I know (drivers) going 60 km/h who are excited to go to the game are not paying special attention to cyclists."

(Read more on Stevenson's suggestions for the city here.)

The Free Press asked readers to name troublesome cycling routes, and this 500-metre stretch was repeatedly mentioned. One reader described the route as "an intense experience." Another said "with no warning, you are in six lanes of traffic."

Candace Corroll rides her bike on Pembina Highway regularly. Problem is, the bike lane ends at the Pembina Highway overpass.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Candace Corroll rides her bike on Pembina Highway regularly. Problem is, the bike lane ends at the Pembina Highway overpass.

One reader put it simply: "It is very, very dangerous."

If a cyclist plays by the rules, getting onto University Crescent requires leaving the bike lane when it ends at Plaza Drive, then merging into traffic as it crosses Bishop Grandin Boulevard. The cyclist must cross two lanes of traffic to reach the left turning lane.

Beyond adding signs to encourage cyclists to take the "stadium route," the city has no plans to fix this stretch.

St. Norbert Coun. Janice Lukes, the chairwoman of public works and a cycling advocate, admits the overpass can be daunting for cyclists and said she breaks the rules, risking a $113 ticket, and takes the sidewalk when she has to cycle on the Bishop Grandin overpass.

Given the width of the overpass, the high volume of traffic and infrastructure in place, Lukes said the city’s hands are tied until the bridge is upgraded, which isn’t until 2020.

"I am hoping the opportunity will be there when the upgrades come that we can look at a similar approach that we did on the Fort Garry Bridge," she said, citing the active-transportation route.

"I know for a fact if that bridge is getting an upgrade, active transportation will be on the table."

In the interim, the advocacy group Bike Winnipeg has called for the city to allow cyclists to share the sidewalk with pedestrians.

The city’s stance, however, is to encourage cyclists to take an alternative route by using the existing bike route that takes cyclists to Plaza Drive, then under the Fort Garry Bridge.

But experienced cyclists such as University of Manitoba student Candace Corroll say Pembina Highway is the route they take every day, because "it is the most direct way to get to school."

"The bike path does end at the point where it would probably be the most helpful. You have to watch where the cars are. A lot of the times, I wouldn’t be able to make those lane changes," she said.

 

kristin.annable@freepress.mb.ca