City spinning its wheels on better cycling tracks

Re: “No ‘climate’ emergency for Red Deer; Mayor says council prefers action to symbolic moves,” Oct. 9.

“Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer said this city would rather take meaningful, decisive action on climate change, rather than make symbolic gestures,” says the article.

“She noted many measures from the recently updated environmental action plan are being adopted — and these are making a real difference.”

I applaud the city for the actions it is taking.

However, one area that could really use some action is improving bike lanes in the downtown core.

In particular, a separated cycle track on 48th Avenue, from 43rd Street to 55th Street, would encourage more cyclists to commute to the downtown.

At the bottom of Spruce Drive hill north bound is a constriction that the city has posted (with three signs) that cyclists have right-of-way over motorists.

This constriction has been and continues to be a point of conflict between cyclists and motorists.

North bound on 48th Avenue is a painted bike lane sandwiched between a row of parked vehicles and the traffic lane.

Cyclists here run the risk of being struck by someone opening a vehicle door and knocking the cyclist into traffic.

Calgary and Edmonton have installed separated (protected) cycle tracks that have greatly increased year-round ridership into the downtown (40 per cent increase in Calgary).

I think it’s time for the City of Red Deer to do the same. People won’t ride where they don’t feel safe.

The City of Red Deer states in its environmental master plan 2017 annual report that overall fuel consumption has been increasing since 2009, and that Red Deer did not meet the 2015 target.

Its 2020 target is to increase the modal split for pedestrian or bike to eight per cent.

There has been no further investment in bicycle facilities in the downtown core since the commuter bike lane pilot project of 2011-2013.

I submit it’s time for the City of Red Deer to take further action to improve safety for all road users, reduce conflict between cyclists and motorists, and show further leadership in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by encouraging more people to ride into the downtown.

According to the City of Edmonton, sustainable transportation year-round ranks three out of five on actions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

This is on par with installing upgraded windows or taking your vacation locally rather than abroad.

Bill Franz, Red Deer

Bill Franz is president of the Red Deer Association for Bicycle Commuting

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