'Can’t wait until it’s done:’ Downtown Edmonton bike grid to open in July
City officials discuss new plans for the grid Tuesday with an anticipated July opening
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The long-anticipated downtown bike grid is on track to open this July, something avid cyclist Tara Stieglitz says will mean a safer and faster commute for those who get to work on two wheels.
“It’ll just be a more optimal route,” Stieglitz said Tuesday on the under-construction lanes, which will soon stretch all the way along 105 Avenue from 116 Street to 101 Street.
“I bike right beside the track right now, so I can’t wait until it’s done.”
The route was originally designed be shared by cyclists and pedestrians on 104 Avenue, but city planners thought 105 Ave would be more suitable for people on bikes, because it would feature a separated lane to enhance safety, said Olga Messinis, bike grid project manager.
“This type of infrastructure in Edmonton is very new for the city and largely new for Alberta,” she said.
Otherwise, everything is generally going as planned, as the the $7.5-million network of 7.8 kilometres will run along 100 and 102 avenues, and 99, 103, and 106 streets.
The grid comes as cities across North America install cycle tracks to meet a growing number of residents choosing to bike.
It also helps everyone get around more efficiently, said Coun. Ben Henderson.
“It means bikes aren’t fighting with pedestrians and cyclists not fighting with cars,” he said.
The grid is also adaptable, Messinis added, so if portions aren’t being used or are causing too many traffic headaches, city council can vote to have them removed or switched around.
But she’s confident the network will prompt more people to bike.
“We’re looking to see ridership in the downtown grow,” she said, noting the city will install counters to track the number of cyclists zooming by.
“We’re looking at providing a much more equitable bike system. We want to see all ages and families use the network, and we want to remove a barrier that had people on the cusp of choosing to bike.”
But not every portion of the grid will be complete by July, according to the city. Parts on 99 Street from Jasper Ave to 102A Avenue won’t be finished until Churchill Square renovations are complete. Another section, at 103 Street from 103 Ave and 104 Ave, also won’t finish until the new Stantec Tower is built.
But Stieglitz said she’s just happy to see lanes get built as soon as possible.
“I’m glad we’re not waiting to do it all at once,” she said. “I’m tired of waiting for a safe way to get downtown, and having part of this finished will help ensure that safety.”
Though she couldn’t say when, Messinis said some parts of the grid (sections undetermined) will be open sooner than others. There will also be a party on Aug. 26 to celebrate the launch of the network.