Edmonton's slow progress on $100M bike infrastructure commitment scrutinized

Edmonton's slow progress on $100M bike infrastructure commitment scrutinized

· The Pulse

Edmonton has announced the first 10 projects as part of its $100 million investment in active transportation infrastructure. But while this news is positive, the overall project's slow progress deserves scrutiny, hosts said in Episode 252 of Speaking Municipally.

Co-hosts Troy Pavlek and Stephanie Swensrude discussed the latter's reporting on the new routes. Swensrude reported that the new bike lanes, to be built this year, will cover just 17 kilometres of the 678-kilometre total intended for the $100 million investment, which council endorsed back in 2022.

"This was supposed to be a very, very fast process," Pavlek said. "And while I'm glad to have some stuff, it's striking me as sort of anything but fast. It does make me worry (about) the ability to complete this connected network in just an additional two years, (if) this is all we can do after one and a half, two years."

Both hosts were optimistic about these new routes, but were skeptical about what the small distances say about progress for a project that spans 678 kilometres, intended to be complete by 2026.

"At the end of 2026, if we only have just over 45 kilometres of bike infrastructure, that's not going to look good to anyone," Swensrude said. "It's a bit of an anti-climactic achievement."

Each of the 10 routes to be built in 2024 will be a shared pathway, rather than only a bike lane. Pavlek called these routes, often in places where the roadways are wide and sidewalks do not currently exist, "low-hanging fruit," and wondered what roadblocks the city could face when more complicated areas emerge.

"We're going to get a lot more difficult problems, places in the core area where we have to start thinking about reducing lanes, and dealing with traffic congestion, and complex intersections," he said. "That's when I expect this discussion to get a little bit spicy."

Hear more about bike lanes, as well as e-scooters, OP12, rezonings, and the George Spady Society on the Feb. 23 episode of Taproot's civic affairs podcast.

Photo: A painted bike lane is just one kind of active transportation the city hopes to improve by spending $100 million between now and 2026. (City of Edmonton)