News / Edmonton

Bike dreams: How councillors would improve cycling in Edmonton

Edmonton city councillors shared their wish list for components of a dream bike network with Edmonton Bicycle Commuter Society last week.

Left to right- Coun. Scott McKeen, Coun. Michael Walters, Coun. Andrew Knack and Coun. Ben Henderson all shared their insights into Edmonton's recent cycling infrastructure past and potential near future, with some of them speculating their grand vision could be in place as early as 2022.

Braeden Jones/ Metro

Left to right- Coun. Scott McKeen, Coun. Michael Walters, Coun. Andrew Knack and Coun. Ben Henderson all shared their insights into Edmonton's recent cycling infrastructure past and potential near future, with some of them speculating their grand vision could be in place as early as 2022.

Like cyclists, Coun. Scott McKeen said he and his council colleagues work best with the wind at their backs.

In the cast of Edmonton’s bike network, if support from the users equates to that “wind,” the councillors picked up speed last week.

McKeen and councillors Michael Walters, Ben Henderson and Andrew Knack put the removal of painted bike lanes behind them and a room full of cyclists in front of them at a “state of the bike” forum hosted by the Edmonton Bicycle Commuters Society.

The panel fielded questions from the audience and organizers, and started things off by discussing their vision for the perfect future of cycling in Edmonton.

Here are some of the suggestions they gave.

Coun. Scott McKeen:  “I love the idea of everybody being on the same street—cars, pedestrians and bikes—and the idea of that being a co-operative activity where everybody has to look out for each other… Also I think 30 km/h or less on local roads in neighbourhoods and a return to street hockey and throwing the Frisbee (would be) giving the front street back to communities… Somehow, some way, some day in the last few decades, they became solely the space for cars and we lost that.”

Coun. Michael Walters: “I think the big vision is we have to have as many major routes that are segregated from traffic as possible. I think the other piece is we really design a route around the community… it’s really not about commuters its’ about communities. The commuters will then have a network that results from building networks through communities… (Also) we need way more investment… We need to start thinking about $50, $60, $70 million in capital budgets so we don’t get into a situation where (the city) is building the vinyl siding of bike lanes.”

Coun. Andrew Knack: “Making sure there are a few core routes that you do have that dedicated, separated bicycle lane (is key)… I want to make sure I have the opportunity now to be separate from traffic, because even though I bike now every day… Being able to be separate from traffic and actually have a physical barrier separating me is still what makes me feel most comfortable… Putting in the money Coun. Walters was talking about, that’s how you get to that point.”

Coun. Ben Henderson: “The kind of nirvana for me is the kind of system Coppenhagen does… It actually isn't mixed, it separates all three users and I think that's important. The standard street profile in Copenhagen now is basically splitting the height of your curb so you go sidewalk, half curb down for the bike and then down to the street… (And) in the middle of winter… it becomes really apparent very quickly why you have to—in our climate—be able to separate your bike routes, because you can't keep them clear otherwise.”

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