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Risky ride for cyclists along Osborne

Commuters vie for space with drivers in one of city's busiest corridors

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 8/6/2015 (803 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Osborne Village represents the trifecta of danger for cyclists: a high volume of traffic, a narrow road and an underpass.

Last month, the Free Press asked cyclists to submit the trouble spots they encounter as they navigate the streets. After hundreds of submissions, Osborne Street from the bridge to the CN underpass proved to be one of the top areas. Many cyclists said there is just no room for them.

A paramedic picks up a helmet after a cyclist was hit near Osborne Street and Jessie Avenue in 2012.

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

A paramedic picks up a helmet after a cyclist was hit near Osborne Street and Jessie Avenue in 2012.

There's a welcome bike lane on the Osborne Street Bridge heading south from downtown, but it ends abruptly at the foot of the bridge.

TREVOR HAGAN/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

There's a welcome bike lane on the Osborne Street Bridge heading south from downtown, but it ends abruptly at the foot of the bridge.

There is some notice paid to cyclists on the stretch. The Osborne Street Bridge has a designated bicycle lane, and just north of the bridge is a crossing for cyclists to get to the Assiniboine River. Meanwhile, the Osborne rapid-transit station offers bicycle lockers for cyclists to lock up their bike and commute to work.

However, Free Press readers said the path from the bridge to the station is perilous.

The journey begins at the bridge, the only spot in this stretch with a painted bike lane, which as one cyclist pointed out, "the lane suddenly ends at the lights on Osborne and Roslyn (Road)."

"I have been almost side-swiped several times as the (drivers) have not been used to noticing me and suddenly we are to share a lane."

The alternative is to swerve onto the sidewalk, which is illegal and can result in a $113 fine for an adult cyclist.

As the cyclist continues south, they reach an increasingly narrow street, and as one reader pointed out, "parking on Osborne Street means cyclists are expected to constantly merge in and out of the curb lane, with cars frequently travelling above the 50 km/h limit."

As they reach Confusion Corner and the Osborne underpass, they head towards an area that sees thousands of cars pass through daily. Despite extensive lobbying by groups such as the Winnipeg Trails Association and Bike to the Future in 2009, there is no dedicated lane at the underpass.

"(That) forces cyclists to use Osborne, south of Confusion Corner, which is way too busy for safe cycling," said another cyclist.

One reader described a typical morning commute, which is more difficult when Osborne gets backed up to the north.

"I've seen plenty of cyclists attempt to squeeze through in very dangerous ways. The alternative is to take the pedestrian path under the bridge, but that is also very narrow, and a bike can only just squeeze by a pedestrian."

Kevin Nixon, who is the city's co-ordinator of active transportation, said it would be expensive to incorporate infrastructure for cyclists on a narrow, busy road such as Osborne Street.

It would require the widening of the street towards the underpass. A fact planners learned the hard way when they had to backtrack on a promise to build a bike lane on the Osborne Street CN Rail underpass, after realizing it would have meant rebuilding the entire bridge to accommodate it.

The city has identified Osborne Village as one of the top spots for cycling accidents. Its 20-year cycling strategy labels Osborne Street a "multi-modal corridor" where cyclists must share space with a high number of vehicles, transit and pedestrians.

The strategy calls Osborne Street an "existing bicycle facility."

Approval of the cycling strategy is on hold as the city consults with Winnipeggers about it.

 

Readers can head to winnipegfreepress.com to watch Mark Cohoe, the executive director of Bike Winnipeg, show first-hand the difficulty of cycling Osborne Street.

 

Next Monday, the Free Press will examine the barriers to cycling the main route to St. Vital.

kristin.annable@freepress.mb.ca

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History

Updated on Monday, June 8, 2015 at 9:16 AM CDT: Replaces photo, adds link

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