April 14th, 2024

Downtown bike lanes a mistake the City needs to rectify


By Lethbridge Herald on February 17, 2024.

Editor:

Cities are not easy to run. There are so many decisions to make that mistakes are inevitable. The bike lanes on 7th Street downtown are a prime example of a dangerous and costly mistake.

I’m sure the decision was made with good intent, especially when our city was sharing the initial cost with another level of government, but in this case the “free money” will likely prove to be very expensive.

It is realistic to believe there is a risk to pedestrians crossing those bike lanes to get from their parked vehicle to the sidewalk. It would be very naive to believe that everyone will look both ways every time they cross, or to think every bike rider will react in a microsecond to a person stepping into their path. The new electric bikes are fast, quiet and heavy.

There was little thought put into access for those using walkers or wheelchairs. I witnessed an elderly gentleman park in front of the store he intended to shop at. After he realized he couldn’t lift his walker over the curb between his car and the bike lane, and after proudly refusing assistance, he realized his only option was to dangerously walk 50 yards on the street behind the other parked vehicles to a gap in the curb. He wisely got back in his car and drove away. How often do you think he will come back to 7th Street to shop again?

The recent snowfall provided another glimpse into the lack of foresight by our city planners. Plowing the bike lanes left high snowdrifts on each side. That added a new daring adventure for everyone to attempt to climb those  icy drifts between their car and bike lane, and then again between the lane and sidewalk. 

Several did not make it without falling, of course, and the many calls to the City seemed to be treated as just another snow clearing complaint.

I realize the snow issue is not common here. If that was the only risk and cost to this project, I wouldn’t write this letter. These lanes between car and sidewalk are a danger to pedestrians year-round and maintenance costs will be forever. They will not help the retail stores as all bicycle owners know they cannot leave their bicycles unattended in any city, locked or not as thieves have perfected the quick snip of the chains or tire removal. The only use of these lanes will be for the very few who ride a bike to work and have a secure place to store it and perhaps some leisurely riders passing through. 

How many people will this expensive project really benefit?

I implore this council to bite the bullet, put up with the deserved criticism for the  money carelessly spent and get rid of the bike lanes on 7th Street. You had good intentions but it was an error. You will be forgiven if you fix it. Expect some store closings and pedestrian lawsuits if you do not.

Lorne Armstrong

Lethbridge

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IMO

Hear! Hear! Thank you, Lorne Armstrong.

Keilan

This seems a bit premature for a project finished a few months ago. I’d propose that maybe major infrastructure projects should be treated as part of a bigger picture, maybe weighing pros and cons. Imagine if we applied this type of one strike you’re out logic to other infrastructure – someone drove a truck through the Value Buds storefront last week, guess we should rip out the parking lot. Someone was killed on 26th ave N last year, guess we should remove that intersection. Whoop Up shuts down from accidents when we need it most – perhaps we take the hard lesson to heart and tear it down? The highway bridged worked just fine until 1975 before that river spanning boondoggle after all!

Bike infrastructure is a necessary part of a growing city. There’s a reason it’s springing up around the world, regardless of climate, the city’s political leanings, or existing bike demand – at some point a downtown core just doesn’t have the space for each and every customer to take up 100+ square feet to store their car. If we want downtown to continue growing and remaining vibrant into the future, everyone arriving by car just isn’t an option.

Certainly there are lessons to be learned. Perhaps we make future bike lanes sidewalk level to eliminate one of the curbs. Or we incorporate more cut-outs protected by bollards alone instead of concrete curbs so mobility challenged individuals have an easier time. We’ve been building paved roads for 80 years and we still have much to learn, I hardly think we can write off protected bike lanes after 3 months.

Last edited 1 month ago by Keilan
Say What . . .

Very Well Said!!! Wait until they reduce traffic to 2 lanes on 3rd avenue all the way to Mayor Magrath Drive to allow bike lanes, congesting traffic flow further. They are also planning on adding more traffic lights and pedestrian crossings to further restrict traffic.
4th avenue already had it’s traffic lanes reduced to 2 lanes so the bike lanes could be added. I have seen zero bicycles using these lanes, even the druggies aren’t using them.
It will be a contentious issue once they start on 3rd avenue. Surveys showed people didn’t want it on 3rd avenue, but they are forcing it on us.

McKnight

Hopefully they do.
Far too many big butts driving oversized vehicles in this town.

Chmie

Well sad, this was a total waste of time and money. With so many other “urgent needs” in our city this one should have been left on the drawing board. Our tax dollars need to be treated with respect not spent on whimsical nonsense.

Fedup Conservative

I certainly agree with all off you wasting money on bike lanes is a really stupid idea. We see bike lanes in Edmonton and have never seen them used in summertime or winter that’s how stupid it is.

biff

and not even in spring or the fall? 🙂



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