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Edmonton councillor sees need for close monitoring of bike grid pinch points

  • Update: The City of Edmonton said Thursday three sections of the Downtown Bike Network will open on Friday afternoon.
  • • 100 Avenue from 103 Street to 109 Street
  • • 103 Street from 100 Avenue to 103 Avenue
  • • 107 Street from 99 Avenue to 100 Avenue
Click to play video 'Edmontonians to adapt to new way of sharing roads with cyclists' Edmontonians to adapt to new way of sharing roads with cyclists
WATCH ABOVE: The rules of the road are changing in downtown Edmonton as of Friday. Shallima Maharaj explains the new look and new way of sharing the road that's coming with three new bike lane routes.

The downtown bike grid in Edmonton will open in stages, Coun. Scott McKeen confirmed.

“We’ll see some portion of it open imminently,” he said, suggesting 103 Street and 100 Avenue will top the schedule.

READ MORE: City to unveil new bike lanes in downtown Edmonton this summer

The downtown councillor is very anxious to see what happens along 100 Avenue because he’s predicting a major pinch point will happen near the High Level Bridge.

“Just west of 109 Street, on 100 Avenue, is a shared-use path that runs north-south. So what I’m concerned about is that rush hour traffic, heading west on 100 Avenue, they get the green, they come across and then they get held up right away by a bunch of cyclists crossing the path and then we stack up traffic backwards. That doesn’t make sense to me.”

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“Could you actually have a traffic light for the cyclists there? Say you’ve got to let the car traffic go here folks for a couple of minutes. I don’t know.

“Hopefully we can be creative there and reduce some of the conflicts.”

READ MORE: Demolition of contentious Edmonton bike lanes underway

McKeen said the key to making this whole thing work is having vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians all working together, knowing that they all need to share the road.

“Once we get the lights established properly to deal with rush hours, I’m hoping we can get congestion way down.”

“No doubt the bike lanes will create some issues for some people and if we need to, we’ll tweak them. If someone is having a difficult or impossible time getting out of their parkade at 4:30, we’ll need to look at that.”

“We want to be responsive but if somebody says: ‘I want you to take out all of those bike lanes so I can have a nicer drive,’ I think we’re past that.”

One major change that was made from the original concept plan put together by Stantec saw 104 Avenue by Rogers Place eliminated, and moved to 105 Avenue.

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READ MORE: Bike lane construction to lead to 102 Avenue disruption beginning Tuesday 

“I walked down there one day and there was nothing going on at the arena but there were people coming in and out of the casino as well. They come out of those doors blindly. So it just looked to me like it was an accident waiting to happen and that doesn’t help the cycle community either to have conflicts because people will be outraged and they’ll fight back.”

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

Road paving on 105 Avenue was added to make it easier on cyclists.

McKeen predicts that the current setup will stay in place for a couple of years to give transportation officials enough time to see if it’s working, but still allowing for any alterations along the way to take care of unforeseen “pinch points” that will be monitored on a regular basis.