Edmonton drivers concerned over 95th Avenue bike lane

. Shaughn Butts/Edmonton Journal

EDMONTON – Some west end drivers are concerned their commutes will lengthen when the city rolls out its bike plans on 95th Avenue this summer.

The city plans to paint 1.7-metre wide lanes on both sides of the road between 189th Street and 142nd Street. The plan would maintain the same number of driving lanes throughout most of the route by narrowing the lanes slightly and eliminating about 14 blocks of on-street parking.

The plans were on display at the Central Lions Recreation Centre Wednesday evening.

Ian Humphrey said he drives that route several times a day and rarely sees a cyclist. He worries the driving lanes will get even narrower once the snow falls. It doesn’t make sense to have bikes taking up space when most people only ride in the summer, he said. “It’s a winter city, but sorry, you shouldn’t be riding your bike in winter. This is not Copenhagen.”

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Pat Batten agreed, mocking a note on the city’s website that suggests 54 per cent of Edmonton residents are cyclists. She runs a seafood shop in that area and says people just don’t bike in the suburbs. “The road is just fine the way it is. Just leave it alone.”

In a telephone survey run by a contracted polling firm last December, the city found over half of the 900 respondents had ridden a bike at least once in the past year, while 35 per cent ride weekly during the summer.

The results are considered accurate to within three percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

City staff were planning to paint 23 kilometres of shared-use and bicycle-only lanes in Edmonton this year, but have already sent two routes back to the drawing board for more consultation. Protest about routes on 76th Avenue and 132nd Avenue was strong enough for Mayor Stephen Mandel to label the project a “nightmare.”

The next largest project this year is 95th Avenue, which would provide a major east-west connector for the area.

City transportation engineer Andrew Siggelkow said the city is designing a variety of routes to encourage more occasional riders to feel comfortable using their bike as a form of transportation.

Mike Cumming, a cyclist who also stopped by Wednesday evening, said he hopes the city will make more bike lanes on major roads like 95th Avenue that actually get cyclists where they need to go. He used to ride on 75th Street, but gave up because it felt too dangerous.

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“I think if there’s a dedicated lane it makes people think a little more. It’s a little more accepted rather than just biking on the road.”