Not everyone in Red Deer is thrilled about the location of the new bike lanes.
Some residents in North Red Deer, along 59th Avenue from 67th Street to Grant Street, are miffed because they will lose their street parking on 59th Avenue due to the bike lanes that will be painted on both sides of the avenue later this summer.
Jim Dawson, 70, a resident on 59th Avenue, said it would make more sense for the lanes to be installed along 67A Street to connect to Taylor Drive because the street is not as busy and would not have impacted residents.
“Nobody parks on the street there,” said Dawson. “You wouldn’t have impacted on one residential house. You wouldn’t have impacted on anybody. But they choose ours. We’re losing parking rights right in front of (our) houses.”
As part of the Commuter Bike Pilot project, bike lanes will be completed by mid-August. Work should get underway in the next few days.
There will be one lane going through the downtown, another heading west along Cronquist Drive, 39th Street heading east, north from the Ross Street area up to 59th Street and 40th Avenue from 39th Street up to and including 55th Street.
Vehicle lanes will be reduced from four to three lanes within those areas. The third lane will be a left-turn lane in either direction, so there would still be two continuous through movements.
In the case of 39th Street, the four lanes will be reduced to mainly two lanes. Two left-hand turn bays will be installed at the intersection of 39th Street and 40th Avenue to help alleviate the traffic.
Kim McCallister, a letter writer to the Red Deer Advocate, wrote she was concerned how the bike lanes would impact the already busy street in front of Eastview Middle School.
“I can’t even imagine what chaos will occur if there are only two lanes of traffic,” she wrote. “Can you see parents that drop off or pick up their little ones in the parking lot of Maryview School getting blocked in because westbound traffic on 39th Avenue is backed up past St. Thomas Aquinas Middle School? This is a very likely scenario.”
Last year the city consulted the public on the pilot and received close to 300 responses from residents citywide. Last year, the city painted four bike lanes — Riverside Drive from 67th Street to Three Mile Bend access, Riverview Drive from 60th Street to 65th Street, Kerrywood Drive from Fir Street to Overland Place, and Cronquist Drive from 54th Avenue to Webster Drive.
The new lanes were approved by city council in April.
Since that time the city has met with the area schools affected by the lanes including Eastview Elementary, Maryview, St. Thomas Aquinas, Gateway Christian and Central Middle schools to notify them of the changes before the upcoming school year. Residents in the other areas were also notified.
City of Red Deer senior communications consultant Michael Cox said the city has received 13 inquiries from the residents in the areas (59th Street, Grant Street, downtown and at the schools) near the stretch of the new lanes. One concern was about the turning on 39th Street but the two turning bays should help alleviate the concerns.
“At this point nothing has been painted yet on (the roadways we have chosen),” said Cox. “That’s why we wanted to notify people in advance so they knew it was coming and it wasn’t a big surprise.”
Cox said the roadways can handle the current volume of traffic and the traffic with the changes to the road configuration.
“We understand it will be a change for drivers and for cyclists as well,” said Cox. “This is the opportunity to get out in the summer before school comes so people get used to cyclists on the road and drivers get used to the road configuration.”