Smarter bike lanes and community voice. I’ve been clear since the election last October that these were top priorities for me. In my mind, the two issues have become intrinsically connected. And these two things lead to the primary goal -- that we get as many people as possible to choose to ride their bikes, both as commuters and recreationally.
Edmonton is a big City and only getting bigger. The Way We Move, the City’s Transportation Master Plan, outlines 10-year strategic goals to ensure that as we get bigger, we develop our transportation system and infrastructure in a sustainable way. The Active Transportation plan, of which bike lanes are a part, is an important piece in achieving these goals. It is a critical and progressive vision for our city – one that I believe in deeply.
This vision is the right strategy. But we haven’t done it right, and we haven’t yet done right by those affected by it.
The motion I made at the Transportation Committee in February was an opportunity to have a fresh start and to learn from our mistakes. The report responding to my motion, to be debated at the Transportation Committee meeting today, is a step in the right direction.
The report outlines the importance of placing priority on Major Bike Routes, those in the core, where there is the high potential of use. I believe that we need bike lanes that connect people to places they want to go. Where there are destinations to bike to. This new priority puts bike lanes where there is already the demand; where neighbourhoods are asking for the infrastructure.
Smarter bike lanes are also planned with the community, not for the community. We created enemies in our latest installation of bicycle infrastructure, not allies. I heard many times “I’m not against bike lanes, it’s just that these don’t make sense.” The report prepared in response to my motion also outlines enhanced public engagement strategies, including the opportunity to review and provide input on routes.
In order to achieve the vision of sustainable and active transportation, we cannot simply claim that we know the path forward. We need to meaningfully invite people to help us build that path. We need to have the vision but also build support for that vision. We need to meet people where they are, not expecting them to meet us where we want them to be.
What about the bike lanes installed in 2013?
The second part of the motion I put forward in February asked for a review of bikes installed last year. This review is ongoing and our office is playing an active role in this review. We believe a bike lane is only successful if people ride their bikes on it. We are working hard to determine whether people use them, or ever intend to ever use them. Do they lead to where we want to go and do we feel safe on them?
To help me understand this, and to help guide my thoughts and further discussions on bike lanes, I invite community members to join me and their neighbours on Saturday, June 21 to experience the bike lanes together. We’ll be meeting at 1:00pm at the Greenfield Community League (3803 114 Street).
Bring your bikes, and your kids, and we’ll tour a short route of the bike lanes through Greenfield, Duggan, and Sweetgrass, topping it off with a picnic and discussion on our experiences.
We can’t get this right if we don’t continue to hear from community. Join me on June 21 and share your views on the lanes after experiencing them, perhaps for the first time.