Downtown Edmonton bike lanes closer to becoming a reality

Click to play video: 'Edmonton inches closer to getting protected bike lanes downtown'
Edmonton inches closer to getting protected bike lanes downtown
WATCH: Edmonton inches closer to getting protected bike lanes downtown – Sep 29, 2016

On Wednesday, the City of Edmonton’s urban planning committee voted unanimously in favour of a project that would see a seven-kilometre cycling grid built downtown.

The two-way track would 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.

The plan will now go to city council on Oct. 11 for final approval.

“The decision that rests with council is simply to authorize the reallocation of some of the funds that have been identified, that are within existing programs that can be freed up to move over to make this happen,” Mayor Don Iveson said.

Those funds are expected to come from transportation and traffic projects.

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

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.

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

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

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

Ten-year-old Lauren Ybema was the youngest presenter at the urban planning committee.

“Two years ago, I spoke to city council about bike lanes and I still haven’t ridden on one,” she said.

Doug Knight, a recreational cyclist, voiced his optimism following the meeting.

“If this can proceed as presented, it would be wonderful. It’s then what happens after this…and how does this spread through the city?”

If the plan gets approval from city council, the lanes could be in place for riders as early as next summer.

The committee also voted in favour of asking the province to consider changes to traffic laws, by taking a closer look at the Idaho Stop. It would allow cyclists to treat a stop sign as a yield sign.

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