News / Edmonton

Edmonton opening up to temporary bike lanes downtown, but LRT still major factor

An advocacy group in the city wants permanent bike lanes by this summer.

The city says the issue of bike lanes downtown has to be considering with the larger picture of LRT.

Metro Order this photo

The city says the issue of bike lanes downtown has to be considering with the larger picture of LRT.

The city is quickly responding to criticism by entertaining the idea of building temporary cycle tracks through downtown, but future LRT construction could still delay their arrival.

Metro first reported last week that the permanent, segregated bike lanes slotted for 102 Avenue, approved back in 2014, could take until 2017 or 2018 to be completed west of 111 Street — and potentially years after that for the section through downtown.

City staff said last week they weren’t considering temporary lanes as a stop-gap, but Daniel Vriend, the city’s general supervisor of urban transportation, said that's changed.

“We have heard form some of the community that they’re interested in pursuing that,” he said.

Vriend said the city hopes that any money spent and work completed to build temporary lanes would not have to be repeated for the permanent lanes.

The original plan was for the permanent lanes to be built downtown in conjunction with LRT construction, which could have put installation into 2020 or even beyond.

Vriend said if the LRT construction is happening earlier than that, "that may affect our decisions.”

Conrad Nobert, with the group Paths for People, said even with the LRT question up in the air, there is no reason a temporary path can’t be put in place right away.

“We’re going to be pushing for a solution for this summer,” Nobert said. “The demand is there. The danger is obvious, people are getting hurt and injured downtown right now.”

He said there is room on 102 Avenue for temporary lanes.

“All they have to do is re-allocate that road space with temporary barriers.”

Vriend said a temporary installation of lanes through downtown would be a fairly significant project and the city would still have to research signal changes and to the effect on bus stops.

“If we are going to put a cycle track in, temporary or permanent, we want to make sure people can get on or off the bus,” he said.

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