October 11, 2016 12:40 pm
Updated: October 11, 2016 8:16 pm

Edmonton cyclists riding high as downtown bike lane project approved

WATCH ABOVE: It seems people either love them or hate them. Whatever your opinion, protected bike lanes are coming to downtown Edmonton. Vinesh Pratap reports.

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A project that will see seven kilometres of bike lanes added to Edmonton’s downtown got the green light from city council Tuesday morning.

City council’s vote came two weeks after Edmonton’s urban planning committee voted unanimously in favour of the project.

“I think we’ll see a significant increase in ridership, particularly among those who were either a little afraid or thought: ‘Oh, riding downtown with all those vehicles and that, there’s just no way,'” Michael Phair with Paths for People said.

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“I think in fact people now will start to spend more time in downtown and coming in and out. That’s really what we hope to achieve and see this extended throughout the city.”

The two-way track will be separated from vehicle traffic and the capital cost to bring it to fruition has been pegged at $7.5 million. The operating cost has been estimated at $625,000 annually.

READ MORE: Cyclist groups applaud downtown Edmonton bike lanes pegged at $7.5 million

The proposed 7.1-kilometre grid includes two-way cycle tracks on one side of the roadway to accommodate parking and snow removal.

Funds to cover the cost of the project are expected to come from transportation and traffic projects.

The lanes could be in place for riders as early as next summer.

RAW VIDEO: Edmonton mayor talks about council’s bike lane discussion

Calgary’s Pilot Downtown Cycling Network saw 6.5 kilometres of protected bike lanes built in the downtown core in 2014. The budget for that undertaking was also $7.5 million, though the final cost turned out to be $5.3 million.

According to the report presented to the city, initial monitoring has shown weekday cycling trips have risen by 95 per cent.

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