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Saskatoon businesses argue for changes to BRT, bike lanes

WATCH ABOVE: One of the recommendations for Saskatoon's future transportation plan is an expansion of the downtown bike network, which was discussed at the committee level on June 20.

Saskatoon should move its downtown bike lanes and proposed bus rapid transit line, according to multiple speakers at a city committee meeting Wednesday.

As part of its growth plan to 500,000 people, the City of Saskatoon has proposed making the 4th Avenue bike lane project permanent, along with the lane on 23rd Street.

READ MORE: Saskatoon’s growth plan includes new transit and biking systems

The expanded cycling network, if approved by council, would connect the current lanes with a new corridor on 19th Street and a raised bike track along Idylwyld Drive.

The lanes have often been criticized as over-priced, under-used and poorly located.

“The expansion of a good plan is a good idea, but the expansion of a bad plan is not a good idea,” said Keith Moen, executive director of the NSBA, an association representing Saskatoon businesses.

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Under the city’s growth plan, a bus rapid transit (BRT) line would carry buses along 3rd Avenue in downtown Saskatoon.

Moen said moving the BRT route to 1st Avenue makes more sense.

“That would of course open up 3rd Avenue as an option for a bike lane” instead of 4th Avenue, Moen said.

READ MORE: NSBA calls Saskatoon’s bike lane project a failure

Moving the BRT to 1st also received support from Michael Mehak, who represented Midtown Plaza. The downtown mall recently proposed an $80 million renovation, including a facelift along 1st Avenue.

Brent Penner, executive director of Downtown Saskatoon, said the business improvement district supports moving the line to 1st Avenue as well.

“If the goal is densification and more growth … we see more opportunities on 1st more than 3rd,” Penner said.

No final decisions happened Wednesday, as BRT and bike lane changes require approval from city council.