Survey says….. bike lanes are not that much of a priority

As your City Councilor I will work to install proper, safe, and separated bike lanes while individual communities undergo neighbourhood rehab. 

I’ve asked people while campaigning about what they think about bike lanes? Many have admitted that they do not like them.

 

Thanks to the always excellent work of pollster Janet Brown of Opinion Research, who provided CBC Edmonton with survey results for their Edmonton: Our Future series, of 16 municipal priorities, expanded bike lanes came in dead last, favoured by only 26 percent of respondents, while 42 percent felt they were not important. 

And instinct tells me there’s even more of a geographical divide, where bike lanes are more popular in the core of the city in Strathcona, Oliver and downtown, and even less so in Ipiihkoohkanipiaohtsi. 

What to do about it?

In 30 years covering city hall as a radio journalist I’ve seen what’s worked, and what hasn’t, and the original concept of bike lanes tops that list. 

I spoke about it with Ahmed Selim on his myradio580 program.

They were first brought in as painted lines that no one liked. Motorists saw two lanes of traffic squeezed into one, clogging up intersections in far flung parts of the city where it didn’t make any sense. 

Many cyclists did not feel comfortable or safe without a clear barrier protecting them from traffic so they wound up avoiding them. 

And don’t forget the seasonal problem of snow covered and icy roads, sitting alongside bike lanes that were ploughed and cleared right down to the bare pavement.

In the end, at a cost of millions of taxpayers’ dollars, city employees blasted the paint off the pavement. 

We all came out losers in the end because some in the city’s roads department pushed this through without proper council oversight.

You’ve already paid for them

My proposal is to install proper safe separated bike lanes while individual communities undergo neighbourhood rehab. That’s the work where roads are resurfaced, cracked and falling apart sidewalks and curbs are rebuilt, and sewers are maintained.

Over a ten year stretch you had been paying a line item on your property taxes dedicated to building up the fund for specific neighbourhood reconstruction. So that also provides the opportunity to design and build safe separated bike lanes that will actually get used, while still allowing traffic to move without interruption. Sidewalks can be redesigned too, to improve pedestrian safety.

What are the other priorities?

Based on Brown’s survey results, maintaining existing roads topped the list with 82 percent saying that’s highly important. I couldn’t agree more. And based on what I wrote earlier in the campaign the auditor has some suggestions on how to improve snow removal that I think should be acted on. 

Rounding out the top five, and I agree with these as priorities, attracting and retaining young people — especially entrepreneurs, address homelessness and systemic discrimination, and keep residential property taxes low. Absolutely.

What I think that’s lower in the survey and deserves to rank higher, and I’ll strive to do that, is to keep commercial and business property taxes low as well. 

Edmonton’s business community, as our primary job creator, needs all the help it can get. 

 

 


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Scott Johnston for Edmonton City Council