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City planning to ‘winter proof’ contentious 106 Street bike lanes

EDMONTON – The City is continuing its efforts to make Edmonton’s streets more cyclist-friendly.

The latest initiative comes in the form of a pilot project that will keep the bike route along 106 Street between 29 Avenue and Saskatchewan Drive kept in top shape all winter.

“Residents in many winter cities around the world continue to cycle year-round. This bike route pilot project will help us gather information and assess what’s needed to implement a successful road maintenance schedule for bike lanes in Edmonton,” explained Tyler Golly, General Supervisor of Sustainable Transportation.

As part of the maintenance,the plan is to have windrows removed within 24 hours following plowing, in places where they reduce bike lane widths to less than one metre. Sanding will also be done, if needed, to address icy patches.

In order for the pilot project to be effective, the City is asking for the public’s feedback on the effectiveness of snow clearing. If the one-metre bike lane width is not being maintained along 106 Street, cyclists are encouraged to call 311.

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“Lessons learned during this pilot will help us implement a more effective bike route maintenance program to the entire…bicycle network in the future,” said Golly.

READ MORE: City using unique method to promote bicycle safety on Edmonton roads

The relatively new bike lanes on 106 Street are already a source of frustration.

On Tuesday evening, hundreds packed a southside hall to share their opinions on the addition to their community.  The meeting was a campaign promise from the new Ward 10 councillor, Michael Walters, to the people in his riding.

READ MORE: New south Edmonton bike lanes causing confusion for motorists and cyclists

“They were furious, confused, and unclear about how [the bike lanes] got there and when the decision was made,” Walters said. He added that he didn’t think the last Council used its money wisely when it came to making bike lane decisions.
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“Instead of putting them in the core neighbourhoods – where it would have been more expensive but they would have been used – we gave them a little bit of money so they could get more ‘bang for their buck,’ so to speak, in newer suburban neighbourhoods – where people just weren’t as enthusiastic about them.”

Eventually, the City plans on putting in nearly 500 kilometers of on-street cycling facilities.

Before that happens, some believe more input is needed.

“To spend more money on something, that isn’t working really well now, I think needs another look,” said concerned resident Rose Marie Basaraba at Tuesday’s meeting.

She’s not the only one who would like to see some changes.

Joe Buijs, a fair-weather cyclist, has used the lanes and thinks there should be completely separate bike lanes.

Marvin Soderberg agrees. He cycles around 8,000 kilometers each year – rain, shine, or snow – and would also prefer to see bike lanes away from cars.

“Because even though there’s lines there, I can still get hit,” Soderberg said.

The total cost to implement the bicycle transportation plan over the next 10 to 20 years is estimated at more than $100 million.

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With files from Quinn Ohler, Global News

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