ON any given day, the intersection of Salter Street and Selkirk Avenue is bustling with cars, trucks and buses. Those looking to cycle through the neighbourhood often find themselves on the sidewalk, deftly dodging a steady stream of pedestrians.
As the City of Winnipeg plans to rebuild a swath of Salter Street, community leaders are questioning its decision to leave out active transportation routes — and are advocating for a design model that includes a bike lane on the busy roadway.
All his life, Nelson Flett has navigated his North End neighbourhood by foot, bike and even rollerblades. Having bike lanes in the community, he says, would offer a safe way to get around and bring about some revitalization.
"I want the future generations to be safe, have fun, get outdoors and enjoy the life I had, because I’ve been riding bikes most of my life," Flett said Friday morning, during a news conference on the corner of Salter and Selkirk.
"I think it would just rejuvenate the area, bring the life out in people."
Flett joined members of Winnipeg Trails, Couns. Ross Eadie (Mynarski) and Vivian Santos (Point Douglas), and other community leaders to call for the building of active transportation routes as street revitalization projects take place in the North End.
The group envisioned what a bike lane might look like on Salter Street.
"Seven feet, that’s all we’re asking for," they called out, holding up a tape measure at the seven-foot mark.
"We want to seem them fix Salter and do it right; $6 million spent through the heart of the North End without bike lanes in the middle of a pandemic is wrong," Winnipeg Trails executive director Anders Swanson said.
"We want the city to integrate bike lanes into all of its road reconstruction, because we are tired of chasing after multimillion-dollar projects that could have been done better."
In late 2020, the city tendered a project to rehabilitate Salter between the Slaw Rebchuk Bridge and Cathedral Avenue. But due to a "limited scope," the project will not include any public engagement activities, according to the city’s website.
In February, the city awarded a tender valued at more than $4.2 million to Winnipeg-based Darco Group Ltd. for the rehabilitation project, which will have roads and sidewalks rehabilitated for pedestrian safety.
"This considers neither current nor best practices in active transportation, otherwise the moment you see one person riding on the sidewalk here, you would put in bike lanes," Swanson said.
Flett — who has biked over the bridge to his work in West Broadway — said the busy traffic lanes in the neighbourhood are "scary" to traverse, leading many on bikes to take to the sidewalks and causing safety issues for pedestrians.
In an ideal reconstruction, Flett said he would like to see protected cycle lanes, like the ones on Maryland and Sherbrook Streets, start popping up in the North End.
Ground is expected to be broken on the Salter Street project in summer.
Julia-Simone Rutgers is a general-assignment reporter.