Report on preventing vehicles from parking in bike lanes falls short, cycling advocate says
A new report on preventing vehicles from parking in bike lanes will go before a city committee next week.
It’s an issue Zohreh Gervais has encountered while cycling on Harrow Street near Kelvin High School.
“It’s pretty frustrating, especially because there’s a lot of traffic rerouted through Harrow because of all the construction on Stafford so this particular stretch gets pretty congested,” Gervais said, after being waved down by a reporter while out for a morning ride.
Gervais said between the traffic, potholes and cars parked in bike lanes, navigating the road can be difficult and dangerous, especially during school pickup and drop-off times.
“I bike up and down here with kids pretty often and I feel very uncomfortable with that,” Gervais said.
Mark Cohoe, Bike Winnipeg’s executive director, said the new city report fails to address the issue.
“It means that if you’re in this bike lane and it’s pretty critical — it’s part of the city’s spine network connecting to Wellington Crescent — it means that you’re having to get out of your lane and mix in with traffic and then come back,” Cohoe said.
The report to the Infrastructure Renewal and Public Works Committee examined the potential of adding precast concrete curbs, at a cost of around $10,000 per 100 metres, to transform painted bike routes like the one on Harrow to protected lanes.
It found Harrow may need to be widened to accommodate such an upgrade and no work is recommended for at least two years due to the road construction on Stafford Street. A situation Cohoe said the city could’ve planned for in advance of the project.
“They might’ve looked here and said, ‘Hey we’ve got an opportunity to create a bit of a protected bike lane,’ Cohoe suggested. “Even if it’s just a short little bit that connects the high school, one of their priorities for determining where they put protected bike lanes.”
The report did find curbs can be added and should be implemented for the existing parking protected lane on Princess Street between William and Notre Dame Avenue at a cost of $30,000.
On Maryland Street, the city report said bike and vehicle lanes are already at minimum standard widths and there’s no room to add precast curbs but further studies will consider upgrading to a raised bike lane similar to what’s on Maryland south of Broadway.
On Church Avenue in the Inkster Industrial Park in northwest Winnipeg, the city report said the road is wide enough to add precast curbs. However, it said adding them could impact trucks awaiting deliveries and further review is needed.
Cohoe understands there are restraints in certain areas and work is underway in others but with more people commuting by bike amid high gas prices, he said making routes safer and more accessible should be given a higher priority.
“We’re very hopeful that the city will take a more holistic approach. That they’re looking towards a dense, connected network,” Cohoe said.
Where parking in bike lanes remains a problem, he wants more enforcement.
Gervais's grateful for the upgrades that have made been but feels there’s still plenty of room for improvement, including on Harrow.
“I’ve almost been hit by trucks a number of times when I’ve been biking in the bike lane here because they just come over and drive in the bike lane,” Gervais said. “So it’s pretty scary.”
The report will be presented to the infrastructure and public works July 5.
The City of Winnipeg didn't accommodate a request for an interview on the report.
The report said there’s no new money set aside for the upgrades it identified and any improvements will be given future consideration.
If precast curbs are added, the city report said increases will be needed in the snow clearing budget to accommodate additional work which would be required to clear any new protected bike lanes.