More Edmonton bike lanes six years away if council balks at funding in upcoming budget: cyclists
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It could be six years from now when Edmontonians can ride on bike lanes in the downtown area if dollars aren't put aside now, say cycling enthusiasts.
The current proposed capital budget only has a bike lane for 83 Avenue funded, with Councillor Scott McKeen "optimistic" the 102 Avenue bike lane will also get funding. But beyond that, it could be several years until casual and regular cyclists could see some type of cycling infrastructure.
"When you look around other cities across North America—including winter cities—Edmonton is really at risk here at falling much, much further behind. If you can imagine we won't have any cycling infrastructure to speak of beside 83 Avenue until the 2019-2022 budget, that's a very disheartening thought to consider," said Christopher Chan, executive director of Edmonton Bicycle Commuters' Society.
City council recently approved the 2014-2018 Bike Lane Infrastructure Plan, which outlines the city's bike lane plan, put together after consulting with Edmontonians on the proposed routes. After backlash from some citizens about previously installed bike routes, council also approved a new consultation plan, a six-step system that could take up to two years to complete, according to city administration.
Thankfully, cyclists said, consultation has already begun on the 83 Avenue and 102 Avenue bike routes. Conrad Nobert, head of the Edmonton Bike Coalition, says there's "widespread support" from a "strong, silent majority" on cycling infrastructure to continue in the city. In fact, they've received over 700 photos from Edmontonians who currently cycle or want to.
"This is why we formed this coalition, because we knew that after this vote in December, the plans for bike infrastructure would either go ahead or not for four years. If we don't start putting stuff in this four year cycle, then we're going to be six years behind," Nobert said.
"If city council invests in great bike routes downtown in this capital budget, it will set Edmonton up to be an attractive destination for young workers and families that are seeking a healthy urban lifestyle with a variety of transportation options."
Council deliberations on the budget begin on Nov. 26, with members of the public welcomed to share their input on Nov. 24 during a public hearing.