Saskatoon city committee endorses $4.6M downtown bike lane expansion

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WATCH ABOVE: A $4.6 million bike lane expansion in downtown Saskatoon is part of a proposed cycling network exceeding $10 million over 11 years – Mar 4, 2019

A Saskatoon city committee has backed a multi-million dollar plan to expand the downtown cycling network and potentially alter the proposed route for bus rapid transit (BRT).

Coun. Randy Donauer was the lone committee member to not endorse the report, which includes $300,000 in downtown bike lane design costs in 2020, followed by $2.15 million in 2021 for construction and another $2.15 million for construction in 2022.

READ MORE: Saskatoon businesses argue for changes to BRT, bike lanes

“For the amount that it’s costing and the percentage of our residents that use it, especially during winter, it’s a lot of money,” Donauer said.

The $4.6 million is part of the city’s active transportation plan exceeding $10 million over 11 years beginning next year to establish a citywide cycling network.

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Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark said the cost surprised him, though he stated other cycling infrastructure like that on Victoria Avenue and Meewasin Trail have been well-received.

“I think 4th Avenue has become a lightning rod because [reaction has] been much more mixed and has created frustration,” Clark said.

The decisions at committee still require approval from Saskatoon city council.

The report considered by Saskatoon’s transportation committee also appeared to scrap the 4th Avenue bike lanes, originally installed as a pilot project, in favour of bike lanes on 3rd Avenue.

With cycling infrastructure on 3rd Avenue, the BRT lanes could be moved to 1st Avenue, like some business owners and the North Saskatoon Business Association (NSBA) advocated for last year.

Clark said advantages to moving BRT to 3rd Avenue has advantages, including wider streets and a direct transition onto the Traffic Bridge.

READ MORE: Broadway businesses, residents ‘appalled’ by Saskatoon bus rapid transit plan

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Donauer said he is in favour of moving the BRT line to 1st Avenue, adding the bus line needs to be close to a possible downtown arena.

“The business owners on 1st want it. The business owners on 3rd don’t want it there. I also think it makes more sense flying across the [Idylwyld] freeway than it does up Broadway as well,” Donauer said.

The city’s growth plan includes targets to double transit and cycling usage as Saskatoon grows toward half a million people.

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