July 20th, 2024

Council to address motion on bike lane construction

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on March 9, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

An official business motion to be presented Tuesday to Lethbridge city council could kick to the curb future plans for dedicated bicycle lanes here. And it reflects the curbed enthusiasm some in the city have for the new lanes that were constructed downtown last year.
Councillor Rajko Dodic has drafted an OBM calling on City administration to quit planning and building any and all bicycle paths and lanes that have not yet been constructed and to provide an estimate of the costs to remove those bike paths and lanes in the downtown business area that have been finished.
The motion, if approved, calls on Administration to report back to the Economic and Finance Standing Policy Committee of city council by no later than the second quarter of this year. Economic and Finance SPC consists of the mayor and all members of council.
Dodic’s motion states that the new bike paths and lanes that were constructed downtown have made it more difficult for people with accessibility issues to access sidewalks adjacent to businesses.
That echoes comments made to the Herald earlier this year by business owners who expressed concerns about the difficulties some have trying to get over the curb separating the bike lanes from parking stalls and then also onto sidewalks.
Downtown businessman Doug Clark recently told The Herald he hadn’t seen one bicyclist use the lane that goes past his store on 7 St since the lanes were opened last fall. Another said he’s only seen about 15 cyclists downtown with most still using the sidewalks.
“The construction of the downtown business bicycle lanes has created problems during snow events as well as anecdotally has been almost universally seen as a barrier to the success of downtown businesses,” says the motion which also points out that some paths and lanes in the city are simply separated from roadways by a painted demarcation, citing 13 St. N. as an example.
Other lanes have a dedicated street shared with vehicles with roundabouts at reduced speeds, says the motion, citing 7 Ave. S.
The motion points out that the new lanes on 4 Ave. S. from Stafford Drive to Scenic Drive and 4 St. as well as the lanes on 7 St. S. from 3 Avenue to 5 Avenue contain a mix of styles.
Those include, says Dodic’s motion:
• A concrete separation from a motor vehicle parking area that requires occupants of vehicles to exit onto the roadway, climb a concrete abutment, step onto a bicycle lane and then again walk up a concrete abutment, cross a sidewalk and thereafter access any retail premises that they may wish (7 Street South); and
• A separation with vertical pylons separating the automobile parking area from a sidewalk requiring motor vehicle occupants to walk across the bicycle lane to access a sidewalk (4 Avenue South).
The motion states that once the costs of removing the lanes and paths in the downtown business area be determined that the issue of them should be referred to the Assets and Infrastructure SPC for input and consideration by the public and that the Downtown Business Revitalization Zone as well as downtown businesses and other parties that could be affected be given notice of the date and time when that SPC will meet to address various matters.
The motion states those matters would include whether dedicated bike paths and lanes be in the downtown area? If the consensus answer is ‘no,’ then the motion asks what should be done with the existing lanes. If the consensus answer is ‘yes,’ then “should the current bicycle paths and lanes be retained or should they take a different form; as, for example, painted lines as was done on 13th Street North.”
Dodic is also presenting Tuesday a second OBM, this one calling for a monthly operating report to be presented to Economic and Standing SPC starting on April 11 by the Lethbridge & District Exhibition which indicate its operational revenues and expenses starting with the month ending February “and continuing for each month thereafter.”
The motion states that a monthly snapshot of its operations from a financial perspective “would be of assistance” to council.
A presentation by City administration to council in January estimated the facility costs about $30,000 a day to operate with an estimated revenue of $12,000 per day, resulting in a potential daily shortfall of $18,000. The motion states that the City has committed about $5 million in 2024 to fund the LDE’s operating and capital shortfall.

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