Gaps in the city's cycling infrastructure present one of the biggest hindrances for cyclists.

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This article was published 22/6/2015 (2186 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Gaps in the city's cycling infrastructure present one of the biggest hindrances for cyclists.

And there is likely no greater example than the trek from Assiniboine Avenue into St. Vital.

What begins as a leisurely ride through Assiniboine Avenue, where cyclists enjoy relative safety in a barricaded bike path, quickly dissipates and is replaced with confusion as they reach Main Street.

It is here cyclists are thrust towards a busy corridor, with no connecting path and high-volume traffic. As they head south on Main towards Fermor Avenue, they cross two bridges. The level of cycling infrastructure on this route ranges from excellent, such as the barricaded bike path on the Norwood Bridge, to non-existent, such as the bus rapid transit turn at Stradbrook Avenue and Main.

Anders Swanson, the co-ordinator for the Winnipeg Trails Association, explained cyclists must weave back and forth across Main to reach opposing routes suitable for a cyclist.

"The east side (heading south) is a bit better than the west side as you pass the first bridge, and only some of sections of sidewalk are built as multi-use; it is a lot of start-stop, it is a lot of types of infrastructure leading to each other," he said. "Getting onto the Norwood Bridge is a couple 90-degree turns, whether you are on the sidewalk or the road, the sightlines are pretty bad, and then you got bus rapid transit turning around you."

The city's 20-year cycling and pedestrian strategy points to improving gaps in cycling infrastructure as one of its top priorities; that report will head to the public works committee Tuesday for the second time as it slowly creeps toward adoption.

A. Bass Bagayogo rides on the sidewalk along St. Mary's Road. On some portions of the route, he thinks it's safer than battling the traffic and parked cars on the road.

TYLER WALSH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

A. Bass Bagayogo rides on the sidewalk along St. Mary's Road. On some portions of the route, he thinks it's safer than battling the traffic and parked cars on the road.

When Free Press readers were asked to point to the troublesome spots they encounter when cycling, the gaps along this trek came up repeatedly.

As cyclists travel in the westbound lane and head south, there is a narrow, paved lane big enough to fit a bicycle. Often, cyclists find themselves forced onto the sidewalk, as the high-volume traffic on Main can be daunting for them; this is against the rules and can garner a $113 fine.

A protected bike path exists on the Norwood Bridge, but as the city's cycling strategy points out, "the separated bicycle facility lacks a safe and smooth transition to the on-street shared use roadway."

When the Free Press asked A. Bass Bagayogo, a St. Boniface University professor and avid winter cyclist, to show the path he would take using a GoPro camera, he was forced to spend most of the trek to Fermor Avenue on the sidewalk. While he is comfortable travelling in all temperatures on a state-of-the-art winter bike, a straight trek down Main/St. Mary's road is too dangerous for him. One example is the bus rapid transit turn lane onto Stradbrook.

As one reader pointed out:

"This is the biggest issue: The bus lane continues on in the second lane from the right while a weaving lane opens up for those turning on Stradbrook Avenue. Cyclists continuing on down Main have to contend with motor vehicles cutting across two or three lanes to get into the weaving lane. End-of-day southbound rush-hour traffic is scary."

Swanson said he would be shocked if city planners actually believe active-transportation routes that do not connect make sense for the city.

"The main issue is funding and the will to fix it, and there is easy solutions for that," he said, adding a cycling crosswalk signal across Main would be Step 1.

"That is the kind of lack of appropriate design that people on bicycles face; that is why they end up doing whatever they need to do to survive, because nothing makes sense."

kristin.annable@freepress.mb.ca