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Edmonton councillor frustrated by High Level Bridge suicide barriers

McKeen says had he known about narrowing of lanes he might not have voted for barriers

The barriers cut into the pedestrian or cycling space on the bridge.

Metro File

The barriers cut into the pedestrian or cycling space on the bridge.

The narrowing of the High Level Bridge’s pedestrian pathways to make way for suicide barriers has some cyclists up in arms, and one councillor asking why council wasn’t warned.

Coun. Scott McKeen asked Wednesday why city administration didn’t highlight the potential issues for cyclists and what can be done about them.

McKeen said if the issue has been brought to his attention initially, he may not even have supported the barriers.

“Maybe this falls to the council a little bit too, looking at the schematic drawings and not seeing this ahead of time,” he said.

The $3 million barriers were approved in December 2014 and installation began last year.

Posts for the barriers, which prevent people from climbing over the railing, are secured inside the fencing for the bridge and reduce path space by about 50 centimetres.

The narrower paths and the posts, which jut into the lanes, have prompt complaints from cyclists.

McKeen said when council was debating the issue they missed obvious issues.

“I was focused on whether we needed suicide barriers or not,” he said. "That was the focus of the debate. Never once were we warned that —this being a really important and lovely pedestrian and cycling corridor — that we could be impacting it.”

McKeen also asked administration to present solutions that could make the bridge better for cyclists and pedestrians in the future.

He also cautioned cyclists that the High Level will always require them to slow down.

“It can not be seen as a thoroughfare, you can’t whip across the High Level Bridge.”

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