Cycling, Edmonton | No comments yet.
By: Terence Harding (Metro)
I want to ride my bicycle (in Edmonton)
You would think by now we would have figured out how to accommodate cyclists in this city in a way that encourages bicycle commuting and keeps cyclists safe. But it would appear that a solution to the challenges faced by those of us who want to cycle to work or anyplace else is as elusive as finding ways to keep our streets clean in winter and free from potholes in the spring.
People who want to bike in Edmonton year-round are often positioned as a bunch of true believers who aren’t representative of the average Edmontonian. That’s no doubt true because hardcore cyclists are only those of us willing to risk life and limb — and most of us aren’t willing to do that every day. However, if it were easier and safer to ride a bike here, I have no doubt that we would see more cyclists on our streets with each passing day. I believe there are far more people who want to bike than who actually do bike.
So let’s make something clear. Edmonton is not a bike-friendly city. It doesn’t even place on a list of bikeable cities in Canada the way Calgary does. And a piecemeal approach to bike lanes isn’t going to get us on that list.
If things are going to change, we’re going to have to make a real commitment to encouraging and enabling people to use bikes instead of cars. We should be looking at effective ways to drive bike use up into the double digits when it comes to comparing it with vehicular traffic. The idea of unprotected designated bike lanes on roadways is a non-starter in a car-obsessed city such as Edmonton. The risk to cyclists is only marginally reduced.
What we really need to do is forget about bike lanes and sharrows entirely and create a separate set of dedicated bike paths that parallel sidewalks wherever possible. We would not be the first city to create separate bike tracks —far from it. If you Google bike-friendly cities, you will see that all the top cities have some degree of dedicated bike paths.
This is the approach we really need to examine and there are certainly successful models we can look at. It comes down to this: We either want to encourage cycling or we don’t. Right now it looks like we don’t.
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