An advocacy group called PeopleForBikes has released its annual ranking of cities for biking, and some of Alberta’s communities are standing out.
The organization collects data through a variety of platforms, including OpenStreetMap, to determine how bikeable cities are by giving them a score of 0-100.
It started in the United States six years ago, but has since expanded to Canada and other countries.
This year, 47 Canadian cities were included.
With a score of 46/100, Lethbridge ranks 11th among all Canadian cities, up from 13th last year. Lethbridge holds the fourth sport in the “midsize” cities category.
Quebec took the top two spots in all of Canada, with Montreal and Gatineau, followed by Calgary, Vancouver and Edmonton.
“From there we can determine what bike infrastructure exists on the ground in cities around the world, and then calculate (if it’s) a safe street based on the conditions of the road, and then what type of infrastructure is or isn’t there,” program director Rebecca Davies told Global News from Boulder, Colorado.
Davies explained there are several ways Lethbridge’s score could be improved, including speed limit changes down from 50 km/h.
“Our analysis designates neighbourhood streets as high-stress when that have that higher speed limit,” she explained. “If those speeds were brought down to 40 (or 30) kilometres per hour, that would make those streets become low-stress.”
She added it’s also about accessibility.
“It’s really important, if you want people to bike as a main mode of transportation, that you have protected bike lanes taking people to the places they need to go — not just along the river, but also to the grocery store, to the doctor’s office, to your kid’s school.”
The City of Lethbridge has a Cycling Master Plan, which was adopted by city council in July 2017.
It aims to “provide better design options to facilitate an increase in cycling through safe, well-designed and well-located cycling infrastructure.”
Ahmed Ali, the city’s transportation engineering manager, said they’ve done quite a lot of work creating and improving the pathway system and acknowledges the work that still needs to be done.
“The way is to develop more commuter cycling infrastructure that includes protected bike lanes on arterial roads and in downtown,” Ali explained.
“For example, we have completed a route plan and preliminary and detailed design for Stafford Drive pathway system and cycling network. We have done (planning on) 4th Avenue and 7th Street S, that’s actually going to be constructed in a year or two years.”
Safe cycling advocate Tyler Stewart, who commutes on his bike all seasons of the year, was hoping more improvements would have already happened.
“When the city’s Cycling Master Plan was passed, I was super excited,” he said. “But that was five years ago, and in those five years, there have been a total of zero separated bike lanes, which is very disappointing.
“We have one Bike Boulevard, but it doesn’t really connect to anywhere else in the downtown core, or for anyone who is using cycling for transportation on the west side or the north side.”
According to city statistics on Bike Boulevard, cyclist usage went up nearly 400 per cent on 7 Ave. S between 13 and 14 St. during a two-year period between October 2016-2018, while vehicles decreased by more than 60 per cent.