Chris Stephan floats motion to kill bike lane project
One Red Deer city councillor wants to put an end to the controversial yet award-winning bike lane pilot project.
On Monday, Coun. Chris Stephan put forward a notice of motion to discontinue the bike lane pilot immediately and for city administration to prepare a plan to remove the lanes that have resulted in the loss of on street parking and motor vehicle lanes.
The motion also calls for council to stop spending any further “taxpayer dollars on bike lanes” unless approved by council during the operating or capital budget debates.
Stephan said the community is ready to have the bike lanes discussion again.
The bike lanes were approved in 2011 to the tune of $800,000 but residents barely noticed until the majority of the lines were painted last summer.
The city received more than 2,000 responses to its online survey and dozens of letters on both sides of the debate. Two different residents started online petitions in support and against the bike lanes.
“I have heard about this issue more than any other issue as a councillor,” said Stephan. “I think it is time to talk about it again.”
Stephan said there is no end date on the pilot and that’s what council needs to talk about. He said a pilot is not permanent but something that is tested and receives public feedback.
“When you implement something like this you want a win-win-win,” said Stephan. “It’s a win for motorists. It’s a win for cyclists. It’s a win for pedestrians. The problem is when we took away vehicle lanes and parking, we created a competition. I think that’s where a lot of the public were dissatisfied with the pilot project.”
Stephan said the notice of motion isn’t for the removal of all bike lanes but to look at the problem areas and make the necessary fixes such as they did in the fall.
Due to some backlash from the community, the city removed bike lanes on 55 Street, 40 Avenue (north of 52 Street) and 59 Avenue (north of 70 Street) should be complete by mid-October at the latest.
“We need to close the pilot project and we need to evaluate this if is something we need to continue doing,” said Stephan.
Last month, the city received a sustainability award from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities for its bike lane commuter pilot project.
Council will discuss on the motion on April 2.