May 20th, 2024

SPC to hear report on downtown cycling lanes

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on May 2, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

A report will be presented to the Assets and Infrastructure Standing Policy Committee of Lethbridge city council this afternoon on bicycle lanes.
The presentation will be made by transportation engineer Adam St. Amant.
The SPC consists of chair and acting mayor Mark Campbell, vice-chair Nick Paladino, deputy mayor Jeff Carlson and Ryan Parker. It meets at 1:30 p.m. in council chambers.
Today’s report will give an overview of the City’s plans, functional planning study and the design of the downtown cycling lanes on 4 Ave. S. and 7 St. S.
The SPC will be asked to recommend that city council direct administration to report back to it in two years on downtown bike lane usage, safety and other issues as well as any modifications to address issues with the lanes.
The report says that total funding related to surface work of the lanes was $2.9 million. Funding for the 4 Ave. and 7 St. infrastructure included a grant for $1.2 million from the Active Transportation Fund and $1.7 million from the Municipal Sustainability Initiative and Pay as You Go Transportation.
The report states that ATF rules require the City keep in place the infrastructure for five years or the grant has to be returned.
A cycling master plan was adopted by city council in 2017. Its vision was to commit Lethbridge to “make cycling a realistic transportation option for all ages and abilities, contributing to our sustainable future.”
Among St. Amant’s recommendations will be keeping the downtown bike lanes for at least two more years to allow time for residents to adjust to the change.
“Having the bicycle lanes open for two years will provide the opportunity for residents and business to experience the change and develop a full understanding of the bicycle infrastructure’s impacts,” says the report which notes some stakeholders may continue to oppose the lanes.
“Monitoring of the downtown bicycle lanes will be conducted through traffic counts (including motor vehicles, pedestrians, active modes such as bicycles and e-scooters). Parking utilization will be monitored through parking studies on a regular basis. Safety will be monitored using collision data,” says the report.
Removing the lanes could damage Lethbridge’s reputation as a progressive city, says the report.
Removing them would also remove a barrier protecting cyclists and could limit the ability of people without a vehicle – by choice or because of economics – to participate in downtown activities.
Removal would also put the City at risk of breaching contracts with consultants and contractors for the completion of work on 4 Ave. and 7 St., says the report.
“Financially, the $1.2 million Active Transportation Fund grant would need to be repaid. The removal of the downtown cycling lanes would also incur construction costs as concrete reconstruction at the intersection of 4 Avenue S. at 7 Street S. would be required along with a pavement mill and overlay to remove the new permanent pavement markings,” states the report.
The master plan identified four types of cyclists. Strong and fearless (six per cent of cyclists) require no infrastructure while those who are identified as enthusiastic and confident (10 per cent of cyclists), prefer painted bike lanes and low volume/low speed streets.
Interested but concerned cyclists prefer multi-use pathways and protected cycling lanes. The master plan showed these constitute 53 per cent of cyclists here.
Reluctant to cycle residents also don’t need infrastructure, these people constituting 31 per cent of cyclists.

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