As I sat down at my desk and logged onto my computer this morning I was greeted with a story in The Metro about the bike lanes on 102 Avenue which were supposedly going to be part of the 102 Avenue streetscape following construction of the Valley Line LRT. I say supposedly because what have long assumed to be a given now may no longer happen.
As of now nothing regarding the bike lanes has been finalized, but The Metro’s story includes the following quote from a spokesperson for the LRT project which sheds some light on what might be driving the removal of the bike lanes:
The 102 Avenue corridor is extremely narrow and we’re collaborating amongst departments to determine the best use of that area for the greatest benefit of Edmontonians. Accessibility for all transportation modes is a key consideration.
The key word there is “narrow.” For those who aren’t familiar with the project I’ve included the City’s animation of the Valley Line below; I’ve set it up to start at Churchill Station at 102 Avenue/99 Street. The animation doesn’t focus on the 102 Avenue design specifically but if you look closely you can see what the issue might be.
Did you see it? 102 Avenue is proposed as eastbound only for motor vehicles. The road isn’t too narrow to accommodate bike lanes, it’s too narrow to accommodate bike lanes and two directions of motor vehicle traffic. To be fair though, the same plans which have always shown bike lanes also include a note indicating that “design is ongoing” so there was always a chance that the bike lanes could be removed.
Personally, I think the 102 Avenue is where bike lanes would make the most sense. People riding the LRT aren’t going to go directly from their car to the LRT or vice versa via 102 Avenue, cyclists certainly could. That interaction between two modes of travel just makes sense. Signal design and timing along the corridor is likely easier as well with only one direction needing to be accounted for, and less complicated timing plans typically mean less delay.
But if it’s decided that two-way motor vehicle accommodation makes more sense than bikes lanes that’s a decision I can live with as long as a parallel route (along 103 Avenue for example) is developed as a replacement. The demand for cycling facilities isn’t going to go away anytime soon and as a city we need to make sure that the demand is addressed. Saying that “accessibility for all transportation modes is a key consideration” is nice, as long as we follow through.