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Some Lethbridge residents opt for transit, cycling as cost of driving rises

Click to play video: '‘I can’t really afford it’: Lethbridge residents opt for transit, cycling as gas prices rise' ‘I can’t really afford it’: Lethbridge residents opt for transit, cycling as gas prices rise
WATCH ABOVE: The cost of driving these days has seen quite the spike due, in part, to rising gas and insurance prices. Eloise Therien finds out if Lethbridge residents are changing the way they commute as a result. – Mar 15, 2022

Canadians have been dealing with higher prices at the pump in recent weeks, driving some to opt for alternate modes of transportation.

In Lethbridge specifically, many stations are sitting around 169.9 cents per litre, according to gasbuddy.com. It’s a price some residents are not fond of.

Amy Drader, who works downtown, said she has been looking to buy a car but the economics are proving to be a deterrent.

“It’s kind of pushed a lot of my plans backwards because I can’t really afford it,” she said.

“With the rise in insurance and with the rise in gas, right now the bus transit has really been my friend.”

The city began tracking transit usage through its cityLINK performance summary page in August. According to the system, which is updated daily, there were 3,267 average daily transit users from March 1 to 14.

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According to Statistics Canada, the city’s population as of the 2021 census is 98,406.

Read more: Some Albertans face pricey premiums as insurers ‘correct’ rate gaps

Drader said she still plans on buying a used car this year, but the reality of the cost has pushed back those plans.

“Right now, it’s way easier for me to facilitate a bus pass,” she said.

When it comes to the viability of cycling to work and for other everyday commutes, the city is working on improvements.

Adam St. Amant, the transportation engineer with the City of Lethbridge, said the demand for cycling options has been going up.

“When we did the Cycling Master Plan, we found out we have quite a few people interested in starting to bike,” St. Amant explained.

“They’re just not necessarily comfortable with the available infrastructure, which for the most part is riding on roads with vehicles.”

One upgrade coming in the near future is an expansion downtown to help connect the core to a bike boulevard on 7 Avenue S.

“We are going to be beginning construction on 7 Street and on 4 Avenue, (building) some protected cycling lanes,” St. Amant said.

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An increase in cycling is something Adam Duell at Ascent Cycle has noticed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Click to play video: 'Ways to save money on food and gas' Ways to save money on food and gas
Ways to save money on food and gas – Mar 14, 2022

The co-owner bikes to work every day and sees more people doing the same once spring rolls around.

“Not only is it cheaper on gas, but it’s cheaper to park (and) the maintenance is considerably less,” Duell said.

While yearly car maintenance could cost thousands, Duell said the annual upkeep for a bike is likely no more than $200 to $300.

“And that’s if you’re riding every day,” he added.

But the reality for many is that driving won’t stop altogether.

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“Every once in a while, you have to drive,” Duell said. “Whether it’s doing groceries, or dropping the kids off at dance — whatever you’re doing.

“I don’t know if there’s going to be a huge increase in bike sales, but we’ll see.”

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