On Wednesday, October 21, 2015 more than 60 people joined City of Edmonton councillors Ben Henderson, Andrew Knack, Scott McKeen, and Michael Walters, as well as MLA for Edmonton-Centre David Shepherd at La Cite francophone for a panel discussion and forum on the State of the Bike in Edmonton. The Edmonton Bicycle Commuters Society is grateful to the panelists for sharing their time to discuss how we got where we are, what is happening right now, and their vision for the future of bicycling in the City of Edmonton. We would also like to thank the moderators of State of the Bike, Peter Chapman and Karly Coleman from the Full English Breakfast which is heard every Thursday from 7am to 9am on CJSR FM88, 88.5 on FM radio in Edmonton. As promised we will try to follow up on all the questions submitted at the October 21, 2015 forum State of the Bike. Here's what we heard from the public:
- Given all the positive personal (health, happiness, and saving money) and societal benefits (low-environmental impact, resilient urban form, public health costs) of bicycling as a mode of transportation and the likelihood that more people would cycle if they felt safer on a bicycle in the city, why is the bulk of Edmonton's transportation budget still used almost exclusively to serving motorists? What are the specific investments being made in cycling infrastructure in absolute dollars and as a percentage of the Edmonton's transportation budget? What percentage of property taxes are earmarked for cycling - not including grants or transfers from other levels of government?
- Is there anything the city can do to improve the attitude of motorists towards people on bicycles? People on bicycles are often subject to verbal abuse and physical threats by motiorists seemingly for no reason other than riding a bicycle.
- While everyone seems to understand the importance of having dedicated and separated cycling infrastructure in Edmonton how does the city plan to address safety at intersections, particularily commercial driveways on bicycle routes or which intersect a sharrow or bicycle lane? Examples include the 91st Street multi-use path and the future 102 Ave protected bike lane (example of private driveways on 102 Ave which will intersect the bicycle lane).
- What infrastructure, other than separated bicycle lanes, does the city envision being implemented to improve safety an comfort for non-motorized transportation modes on non-arterial roadways lacking lane separation? Examples would include bicycle boulevards, mini traffic islands, chicanes, and narrower streets.
- With all of the attention being given to implementing high-quality cycling infrastructure, how will city council ensure that funding is in place to realise the vision of a fully-connected and comprehensive cycling network in Edmonton?
- Is there a plan to improve the infrastructure for cycling down or up Victoria Park Road. Currently there is only a narrow, shared sidewalk which does not feel comfortable or safe for shared use, but is the only reasonable way to travel across the river at Groat Bridge.
- What is city council's reaction to having to return the 'Decade of Action' road safety award after removing the bike lanes on 40th, 95th, and 106th? [LINK]
- Why are the pavement stencils on bicycle lanes and sharrows not repainted on a regular basis by the city? (questioner states that several roads have been resurfaced or patched and stencils which were covered up or destroyed are not repainted). What is the general position of city council on road stencils?
- Would Edmonton City Council consider restricting or eliminating overnight parking on residential streets? The provision of free, unlimited, on-street parking in most residential areas of the city supports the misconception that residents and businesses own the public right-of-way in front of their home or business. This in turn contributes to a culture of entitlement which has led to backlash against the installation of bicycle facilities on public streets.
- Given that children and youth do not have access to personal motor vehicles, how high of a priority is it to connect schools and libraries with convenient, comfortable, and safe bicycling infrastructure?
- What is the status of the High Level Bridge as a part of the bicycle transportation network in Edmonton? It is the only at-grade connection between the north and south banks of the river valley and is heavily used by all modes of transportation. In the past several years the bridge has been intermittently inaccessible due to construction and maintenance work which presents a major inconvenience to people crossing it on foot or by bicycle. Additionally the safety rails now being installed on the High Level Bridge will make the shared-use path narrower and could make it more dangerous and less comfortable and convenient for non-motorized travel across the bridge.
- While the 83 Avenue and 102 Avenue bicycle lanes are welcomed by people on bicycles, they only offer short east-west routes in specific areas of the city. What plans does the City of Edmonton have to connect the two routes so that people who are not comfortable riding in traffic are able to use them effectively? In essence, what is being done to improve north-south connectivity for people on bicycles?
- Will City Council prioritize adding cycling infrastructure across the CP Rail tracks at 76 Avenue before adding motor vehicle right-of-way?
- When will the city complete the construction of the multi-use trail on 91 Street between 23 and 34 Avenues?
- One of the stated goals of The Way We Move, the City of Edmonton Trasnportation Master Plan is to make "Public transportation and active transportation...the preferred choice for more people making it possible for the transportation system to move more people more efficiently in fewer vehicles" however bicycles are not permitted on the LRT at the most in-demand times of day. Will the city ever allow bicycles on the LRT at peak hours? Why or why not?
Many of the questions we recieved were asked more than once, by different people, and in different ways. We have done our best to state them as clearly and plainly as possible in hopes that the answers are stated clearly and plainly as well. We will update this blog post as we recieve responses from the city and council on the questions posed here. Some of the questions submitted will require a mix of technical information from administration and vision/direction from council and as such could take some time to get answered.
If you would like to contact your city councillor with questions, concerns, or simply to advocate for bicycling and other non-motorized transportation in Edmonton you can visit the City of Edmonton website City Council page. You can also contact your Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta (MLA) to advocate for better funding for active trasportation and bicycling or changes to the legislation and regulations which govern how people on bicycles are treated on Alberta roads.
The Edmonton Bicycle Commuters Society is a non-profit society which works to build a better city for all Edmontonians through our services and programs. You can support us in our mission by becoming a member, becoming a volunteer, or making a monetary donation.