As more and more people choose cycling as a mode of transportation, the city must continue to grow and enhance its network of cycling routes. Cyclists should not have to chose between sharing the road with vehicles or breaking the law by riding on the sidewalk. In the past several years, the city has taken encouraging step to address this issue. As someone who bikes to work, to school and for enjoyment, I know the sense of safety separated lanes and bike paths provide.
An example of this is the Pembina Highway bike corridor. As this project moves closer to completion, the city can apply the lessons learned to the construction of on-street, separated bike lanes on St. Mary’s and St. Anne’s road. This will provide a safe, direct route from the South Perimeter Highway all the way to downtown. These lessons can also be applied to other similarly sized streets within the city, such as Regent Ave, Grant Ave, Henderson Hwy and McPhillips St, as examples. In order to have a functional, user friendly cycling network, there are several steps the city should take:
Short term goal:
- Increased signage that clearly indicates right of ways, provides reminders to drivers to be aware of cyclists, and shows procedures for turning and moving across bike lanes. Many of the negative interactions between cyclists and drivers is the result of a lack of information over who is supposed to do what. By clearly indicating how to navigate intersections and turning lanes that feature bike traffic, the safety of cyclists can be improved.
Long term goals:
- Continue to focus on protected, on-street bike lanes for the ever-increasing number of cyclists. Separating bikes from cars improves safety for cyclists by reducing the possibility of accidents and collisions.
- Construct wider sidewalks and shared use paths. As the city expands the bike network, it is important to accommodate casual riders, not just commuters. Wider sidewalks are also necessary on streets that are unable to accommodate separated bike lanes. The width of the recently re-done South St. Vital Trail (between 3 and 3.5 meters) is the perfect example of a path able to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists with plenty of room to spare
- Redesigning of intersections so that they better accommodate bike traffic. Even on streets that feature bike lanes, little consideration has been given to how cyclists make left turns without moving onto a sidewalk or cutting through traffic. Moving stop lines back one car length at intersections allows a safe and easy way for those on bikes to establish themselves for left hand turns by being in front of stopped vehicle traffic rather than within it.