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‘It’s a short-sighted option’: Not everyone happy with proposed downtown bike lane

Click to play video '‘It’s a short-sighted option’: Not everyone happy with proposed downtown bike lane' ‘It’s a short-sighted option’: Not everyone happy with proposed downtown bike lane

WINNIPEG — A new city proposal could see a busy downtown street get a new facelift.

The City of Winnipeg has unveiled a proposed design for the downtown Garry Street two way protected bike lane.

RELATED: Recommended two-way bike-lane design for downtown Winnipeg’s Garry Street

The three-meter bike lane down Garry Street will connect The Forks to the Exchange District at Arthur Street and Adelaide Street. The makeover will still allow for parking. However, it is expected to take away 16 per cent of the total on-street parking spots on the east side of the road.

“It’s a very substantial project,” said Scott Suderman, transportation planning engineer for the city’s public works department. “Not only are we upgrading the bicycle facilities to protected bike facilities ,we are renewing the water mains, the road, the sidewalks and the traffic signals. “

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However, when Global News asked the expected cost or budget of the project, the city didn’t have one.

“This is a very large project and we want to make sure we get it right,” said Suderman.

Avid cyclists said the project is already falling short.

“We are concerned we are going to end up with capacity issues on that because its not going to have the width,” said Bike Winnipeg’s Mark Cohoe. “It’s a short sighted option. It’s not going to be something that is going to last into that 20 year plan and grow with the amount of biking we would like to see.”

Following the installation of a two-way protected cycle track on Assinniboine Avenue in 2010, regular counts of cycling traffic have shown that the number of cyclists traveling down Assiniboine has increased by more than 200%.
Following the installation of a two-way protected cycle track on Assinniboine Avenue in 2010, regular counts of cycling traffic have shown that the number of cyclists traveling down Assiniboine has increased by more than 200%. Bike Winnipeg

Bike Winnipeg studied cycling traffic along Assiniboine Avenue when the city built a similar two way protected lane there.

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“We saw a 225 per cent increase in the number of people biking,” said Cohoe. “(The new proposal) creates something that is good but the capacity and the lifespan of that isn’t looking far enough into the future.”

Construction of the bike lane is expected to start in 2017 but one city councillor said it’s too little and is taking too long to get going.

“I feel like we should be moving faster with building the downtown bike network overall,” said councillor Jenny Gerbasi. “I know we have to take the time to do the planning but this one lane is not going to open until 2018.

The city has asked for public input over the past year and is holding another public consultation on Thursday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Forks.