News / Edmonton

Some Edmontonians 'concerned' to bike, but study shows infrastructure helps

For Ed Jay, riding his bike in the painted lane on 95 Avenue is a route he only takes if he’s in a hurry — but not one he will bring his family on.

“It’s not my favourite route to ride so I don’t ride it that often,” he said. “There’s more scenic routes to take and I think it’s for more serious commuters only, especially for some sections on it.”

Despite being a regular bike commuter, Jay’s concerns about biking on many streets and avenues in Edmonton are typical of the city’s cyclists, according to recent city data.

The results of a survey that sought input from cyclists shows 45 per cent of respondents are interested “but concerned” about safety in considering if they will increase the amount they cycle in Edmonton.

The results don’t surprise Urban Systems representatives, the company that was hired to review safety on some of the city’s bike lanes, like 95 Avenue and 40 Avenue.

After conducting an independent review of the many bike lanes installed in 2013, Urban Systems found that infrastructure is key to dispelling cyclist safety concerns.

Even if it’s just a painted line with some signage, bike lanes do keep things safer for cyclists, said Brian Patterson, senior transportation planner with Urban Systems.

“Our conclusion is the [bike routes] didn’t introduce any safety issues and in fact the safety performance got better about reducing collisions along the corridor,” he said

With about 54 per cent of Edmontonians occasionally biking, urban planners say the infrastructure will help address people’s concerns.

“The city has been building more infrastructure to get people cycling and just by having people cycling, that actually contributes to safer cycling to all road users,” Patterson said. “The more facilities built, the more collisions are down.”

Later this month, the city is expected to release better detail on its future bike infrastructure plans for popular routes on 83 Avenue and 102 Avenue.

Some misconceptions of cycling

Brian Patterson with Urban Systems says there are myths about the popularity of cycling. Here are some of the top misconceptions:

  • Cyclists are only a small portion of the population: About 54 per cent of Edmontonians cycle, with about 35 per cent of those people using bikes for recreation only. City data also shows that 35 per cent of people are biking every week
  • It’s too far to ride: That isn’t the case when it comes to the hard facts, says Patterson. About 49 per cent of trips in all modes of transportation done by Edmontonians are within a distance that would take about 15 to 20 minutes on a bicycle.
  • Cycling infrastructure requires too much money: That isn’t the case in Edmonton, says Patterson. With 0.7 per cent of Edmonton’s 2015-2018 budget being spent on cycling infrastructure, last week, Patterson made the case in a presentation that in many cities, investing in bike infrastructure is often cheaper than investing in roads.
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