News / Edmonton

Guerilla bike lanes a sign of frustration argue advocates

Bike lanes on Saskatchewan Drive go in and out in a day.

The lanes were quickly removed after they went in Thursday morning.

Kevin Tuong / For Metro

The lanes were quickly removed after they went in Thursday morning.

A guerrilla bike lane installed along Saskatchewan Drive Thursday morning is a sign of just how frustrated cyclists in Edmonton have become, one advocate says.

Conrad Nobert, with the cycling and pedestrian advocacy group Paths for People, said the small bike lane is likely coming from a place of frustration.

“They are the symptom of a frustrated group of people who are being ignored by their city and who are being forced to ride in dangerous conditions,” he said.

The lane, with paint, pylons and tape, stretched about 200 metres along the south side of Saskatchewan Drive.

City crews quickly stepped in to remove it hours after it went up.

Nobert said the quick removal was insult to injury.

“The fact they can respond so quickly to a few pylons being on the road, but take years to put in any meaningful quality bike infrastructure kind of tells the tale,” he said.  

Last year, Edmonton removed bike lanes it installed in 2014, after a council vote. Replacements are still in consultation.

Two major bike infrastructure projects, on 83 Avenue and 102 Avenue, were funded in the last capital budget, but are expected to take several years to actually be installed, with the downtown route potentially delayed into the 2020s.

Daniel Vriend, the city’s general supervisor of urban transportation, said it’s illegal to modify a roadway with new marking and so the city had to remove the lane.

He said while the bike lane was not in a driving lane it was blocking a bus stop.

Vriend said the city understands peoples' desire for lanes and can even work with communities for temporary lanes.

“If people are looking to close a road and have a cycling friendly event we do have a permitting process,” he said.

Vriend said the city is aware the route is popular for cyclists and is looking at ways to address that need, including expanding the multi-use trail on the north side of Saskatchewan Drive, which would include widening the paths and the wooden walkways to give more room for people to pass. 

“It’s a pretty early study, but we are looking at what the costs would be,” he said. 

Nobert said his group understands the high-quality bike infrastructure the city is promising could take time, but the lane put up on Thursday is an example of an easy win the city could create.

“That lane was in a part of the road that you are not allowed to park in and not allowed to drive in,” he said. “The city could put that up a week from now and there would be no backlash and they would be providing a nice connector for people on bikes.”

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