Stephan calls for halt on bike-lane spending

The bike lane battle barrels on.

The bike lane battle barrels on.

The city’s bike lane pilot project is due for a full-fledged evaluation this fall, but Coun. Chris Stephan does not want to wait for the leaves to change colour to examine the merits of the controversial initiative.

At Monday’s council meeting, Stephan introduced a notice of motion to discontinue the pilot project immediately. Citing citizen dissatisfaction and the initiative’s cost, the councillor proposed to “direct administration to prepare a plan for the removal of bike lanes, which have resulted in loss of on street parking and motor vehicle lanes.”

He also called for council to not spend any more taxpayer dollars on bike lanes. On Monday, he said the motion does not call for the removal of all lanes, but to remove the lanes in certain areas.

Last September, council voted to remove bike lanes on 55th Street, 40th Avenue (north of 52nd Street) and 59th Avenue (north of 70th Street) in response to public concerns.

Ryan Handley, who organized a petition last year for the removal of bike lanes, applauded the move. He said public outcry in regards to the project is enough evidence to gauge the project’s effectiveness, or lack thereof.

“I think it’s been such a thorn in most people’s sides, there’s no reason to wait.

“The whole idea of the council is that they are to make decisions on behalf of the majority of citizens and if you get a petition with 3,000 people in 10 days, that’s pretty good feedback,” said Handley.

Still irritated with the way the project was first implemented, Handley said he would like to see bike lanes incorporated in future developments. In the meantime, though, he wants an immediate end to the project and the lanes removed from 39th Avenue and 40th Avenue.

Coun. Paul Harris has a number of issues with Stephan’s motion, and said this spring and summer are crucial to the pilot project.

“We finished putting the lanes in last fall, so the pilot really is just beginning and it was intended to run the whole of this coming season so we could see how it would be.

“We haven’t even had a full season with the entire bike lane network, so to say that we’ve run a pilot and it’s been unsuccessful is absolutely ludicrous,” stated Harris.

He expects city administration will be coming forward with recommendations regarding the bike lanes in the spring, information with which council can make tweaks. While bike lane detractors have been vocal in their opposition, Harris said he believes the majority of Red Deerians are in favour of the project’s goals.

“We’ve got to find ways to make improvements to this system that accommodates everybody and that’s what the whole point of the pilot is to start with,” he said.

Council is scheduled to discuss the motion on April 2.

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