Signs and painted lines indicate bike lanes of 39 Street. The City of Red Deer received more than 500 individual calls and emails and another 785 separate comments on the bike lane pilot project.

Majority oppose bike lane expansion

A majority of Red Deerians do not like on-street bike lanes and do not support expansion, according to the city’s latest survey on cycling infrastructure.

A majority of Red Deerians do not like on-street bike lanes and do not support expansion, according to the city’s latest survey on cycling infrastructure.

On Monday city council heard highlights of the final report and survey on the two-year pilot project that altered streets to accommodate roughly 20 km of bike lanes.

More than 5,300 online surveys were completed over the duration of the $800,000 commuter bike pilot.

The latest survey, conducted between June 27 and Aug. 19, asked general questions on all forms of bicycle infrastructure including recreation trails, multi-purpose trails, bike lanes and bike routes.

A total of 2, 275 surveys were completed. This was the third online survey since the pilot was initiated in 2011. According to the report, 88 per cent of the respondents supported multi-use trails, and recreation trails (91 per cent) and expansion.

Eighty-one per cent did not like the on-street bike lanes, 77 per cent did not like the bike routes and 77 per cent of the respondents did not support expanding the on-street routes. The survey also noted 19 per cent of respondents are supportive of bike lanes and 16 per cent use them.

City manager Craig Curtis concluded in his report that it is clear the majority of residents do not support bike lanes or routes when they affect traffic or parking. The report also showed the preferred form of bicycle infrastructure is the wide multi-purpose trail that was implemented on 30th Avenue and 32nd Street.

Council decided on Monday to pass the next stage of the cycling infrastructure plans to the next council, following municipal elections on Oct. 21.

Earlier this summer, council concluded it was too late this year to make any additional changes.

Coun. Tara Veer, however, said that the existing council should deal with the end game of the project and not hand it over to the next because this council initiated the pilot.

Mayor Morris Flewwelling said the pilot is over but the program will continue and the new council will do the recalculating. Flewwelling said the city did not get everything right with the pilot and there was more push back than they anticipated. Flewwelling said there is nothing more this council can do since the pilot has ended.

“Let’s be realistic,” said Flewwelling. “We’re in the twilight of this council. This council is not going to initiate any major programs and make any sort of violent moves. To expect council to make anything that was far-reaching on anything seemed unreasonable.”

Flewwelling said this was a logical progression and the pilot will go into further study and design.

“To me it was a logical progression and I felt councillor Veer was grasping at a straw,” said Flewwelling.

Now during the 2014 budget talks, the new council will discuss the future and the look of the lanes along with the overall transportation and trails master plans.

Over the duration of the pilot, the city received more than 500 individual calls and emails and another 785 separate comments. The main themes were related to reducing traffic lanes, confusion and uncertainty when driving near the lanes in winter months and lack of cyclists using the lanes.

While the initial pilot took off with four kms of lanes in 2011, it wasn’t until 2012 when 16 kms of lanes were painted that the public backlash unfolded.

The public reaction was generally negative with major concerns related to traffic congestion, safety and loss of street parking.

As a result, lanes on 55th Street were eliminated and parking was reinstated on 59th Avenue. The city conducted another review and as a result the lanes on 40th Avenue and immediately adjacent to the intersections of 40th Avenue/39th Street and 59th Avenue/67th Street were eliminated.

As a result of the modifications, there’s roughly 14 kms of painted bike lanes on city streets. Any further changes to the network would potentially come in the spring of 2014.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com

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