An ambitious project will be launched in Red Deer to add bicycle lanes in five new locations.
Red Deer city council approved on Monday potential high priority bike routes — one 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.
In total about 20 km of on-street bike lanes will be added — on top of what was added in 2011.
Council also approved a report to come back in the fall of 2013.
Engineering Services director Frank Colosimo said the chosen routes were recommended following input from a stakeholders committee.
Councillors Chris Stephan and Tara Veer opposed the motion. While he likes the idea of the bike lanes, Stephan said he was concerned with the impact that some of the bike lanes would have on traffic.
“We focused on 39th Street and 40th Avenue and 55th Street. Those have schools on them, so hopefully we’ll get students cycling in those areas,” said Colosimo.
Vehicle lanes will be reduced to three from four within those areas. The third lane will be a left-turn lane in either direction, so there would still be two continuous through movements, said Colosimo.
“This would be the case for these areas, except for 39th Street which will become two lanes instead of four lanes,” he said.
A few key areas will see bike lockup areas, including near the Red Deer public market.
Veer supports the project, but she’s concerned with the impact on drivers.
“I think we need to be methodical in the approach we take,” said Veer, adding she would have preferred a phased-in approach. “We need to not do it so quickly that we’re alienating a portion of our public.”
Coun. Paul Harris said it takes a while for communities to embrace these bicycle lanes.
In 2011, council approved $800,000 to come out of municipal reserves towards this bike lane project over several years.
Last year, the city set up 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.
“Some of the bike lanes we are not extending further such as Riverside Drive, but they do connect to existing trails,” said Colosimo.
In other council news:
• Increased public education will take place this year around vehicle idling.
• The westbound travel lane on the north side of Ross Street between Gaetz Avenue and Veterans’ Park will be closed for the summer so that various events can be held.
• Coun. Paul Harris’ motion regarding having all new homes solar-ready was postponed until April 16.
• First reading was given to amend a land use bylaw regarding a new francophone school within the Kin Canyon park area.