July 18th, 2024

City council needs to show support for the new bike lanes


By Lethbridge Herald on March 16, 2024.

Editor:

I am writing in support of the downtown bike lanes along 4th Avenue and 7th Street South, and for continued development of a cohesive and connected network of safe cycling infrastructure within the city of Lethbridge.

I am dismayed by councillor Dodic’s motion to tear up the existing bike lanes and put a halt on further cycling infrastructure. If the issue is around accessibility, there are certainly workable solutions. Jurisdictions around the world have managed to create safe and inclusive bike routes – that accommodate a wide range of accessibility needs. Safe cycling infrastructure and accessibility are not mutually exclusive. 

They can and do co-exist. In fact there is plenty of evidence to show that communities that prioritize safe cycling, improve accessibility and equitable transport. 

Take a look at Dutch Cycling Embassy (https://dutchcycling.nl/) and Melissa and Chris Bruntlett (https://www.modacitylife.com/). It may well be that the existing design requires tweaking, but tearing it up is beyond ridiculous!

Councillor Dodic further claims that “the bicycle lanes has [sic] created problems during snow events as well as anecdotally has been almost universally seen as a barrier to the success of downtown businesses”. No doubt the construction downtown (for more than just a bike lane) was disruptive to downtown businesses. 

However I think it’s premature and an overreach to assert that the bike lanes are responsible for the universal lack of success of downtown businesses. 

The bike lane was only completed at the end of November (I was able to take an inaugural ride on December 2 after most of the pylons had been removed). As for effect on business, you don’t need to go far in a literature review to see the overwhelming evidence that cycling infrastructure contributes to a significant economic boost to local businesses. 

We haven’t yet had a cycling season on these new bike lanes.

When the bike lane opened on 4th Avenue, I was ecstatic! We live just east of the downtown core and often dine, shop and recreate in downtown either on foot or by bike. 

Without a dedicated bike lane, we have had many close calls with motorists. The combination of traffic calming and protected bike lanes are going to be a game changer in safely accessing downtown. 

Councillor Dodic ponders that “painted lines as was done on 13th Street North” may be the way forward. I’ve rediscovered cycling recently and in just over 2 years (including 3 Lethbridge winters) I’ve cycled 8000 km – 6400 of those kilometres in Lethbridge. Once I rode up 13th Street North on the “bike path.” 

It is not safe. Painted lines are not safe infrastructure. 

Our home is about one kilometre from Centre Village Mall on 13th Street North, but there is no safe way to cycle there.
 Instead it’s an 11 km bike ride (one way) along the bike boulevard and designated bike paths to the south end shopping centres.

 The point is not everyone in Lethbridge drives a car (or wants to drive a car) and there should be safe infrastructure for all modes of transportation. The downtown bike lanes are a terrific start towards this.

It seems nearly every city around the world has figured out that cycling infrastructure benefits everyone – not just cyclists. 

Passing this motion would be a terrible step backwards for the city of Lethbridge. On top of that, what kind of disrespect is this to the processes we have in place? (To the City planners, Cycling Master Plan, Transportation Master Plan, countless hours of community engagement?)

 With the stroke of a pen we can undo all of that? 

I want to live in a vibrant city that makes space for everyone – and that most certainly includes cyclists and individuals who choose active modes of transportation.

 I ask this council to preserve the existing bike lanes and continue to support and develop safe cycling infrastructure throughout the city.

Henriette Plas

Lethbridge

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Dennis Bremner

You said: However I think it’s premature and an overreach to assert that the bike lanes are responsible for the universal lack of success of downtown businesses. 
You may be correct, however, as the saying goes “one more nail in the coffin” this is just another “nail”! Instead of assuming it does not cause a problem, why not talk to those that are experiencing the problem. Dodic did, thats why he did his job and introduced the motion?
Parking Costs, Damage from Drug Addicts, Feces, fires, fear of being mugged, Car breakins, Costs to protect busines buidings, it is one nail after another.
Sometimes I think some special interest groups and some people on Council want to see Businesses go belly up, or thier special interest should supercede those who pay taxes there!

Last edited 4 months ago by Dennis Bremner
ReallyReally

Replying to your first-in-line comment Dennis because I just noted that the City Of Lethbridge Cycling Master Plan was published back on… wait for this… May 15 2017. I wanted folks to truly consider this FACT with relationship to the idea that it is now March 2024… and the business people and city councillors are now crying foul ! Councillor Dodic was reelected 2021 if I am not correct ? Sheesh… did Dodic and these business people just get around to checking their email ?
Seriously — you folks are trying to lay the blame on business problems on the back of cycle paths and the people who ride bicycles ? My spouse and I were walking adjacent to the golf course at Henderson Lake on Sunday when a golf ball whizzed off course and across the path beside the lake. Perhaps we can now enlist a councillor to call for ripping out the golf course to make things safe for the many thousands of people who enjoy that pathway !?! Anecdotally I can swear to the observation that there were FAR MORE people using that path on foot, skateboards, and bicycles and in wheelchairs than the special interest group members on the golf course.

HaroldP

Henriette is to be “commended” for her self reported 8,000 KM of cycling over the past years
….years of which, I must note, WE DID NOT HAVE DESIGNATED BICYCLE LANES! How did she do it?????

Henriette, Councillor Dodic is our duly elected City Council member, one with significant experience, not only as Councillor but also as our Mayor. I voted for him, and if you care to check the number of votes he gleaned during the election, the story is easy to recognize, he has the majority of pubic support! This man (Dodic) a respected attorney, once had his offiice in the immediate location of the, for now existing, downtown bicycle lanes. Do you think he might be familiar with the area and immediate situation(s)? Of course he is.

Henriette, from the tone of your letter, I am hoping that you are NOT one of those who are personally attacking Mr. Dodic (et al) but in case you sre, STOP IT!

ewingbt

I walked around downtown for an hour yesterday and noticed the most bicyclists I have ever seen downtown. There were about 35, one group had 6 people, but only 3 of the 35 were using the bike lanes on 7th street or 4th avenue. In fact, they chose to ride on 5th avenue and 2 avenue, some even going through Galt Gardens, and all, including the 3 using 4th avenue, didn’t use 7th street, with some going past 7th street and turning onto the next street.
Many of the cyclists used the sidewalks, with a few using the roads. If all the news on bike lanes brought them out, why would they not be using the bike lanes? Or were they just out enjoying the weather!
I am happy I do not have to sit on Council and make the decisions that will have to be made.
When I worked security at City Hall, we had to secure all the floors, closing them off to public, because of those who came in angry/screaming wanting change. I myself was stuck at the doors of Chambers while Council sat in a closed session, preventing an angry crowd from forcing their way in, chanting loudly as they protested the COVID legislation, and even saying shame on me for supporting this and what kind of a person was I!
Council couldn’t change the federal and provincial COVID laws, but they didn’t understand that . . . unfortunately police also had to respond and thankfully other City Hall staff were there supporting me.
Unfortunately I believe things are only going to get worse in these last days!

Last edited 3 months ago by ewingbt
Montreal13

As far as the lane use age that you speak of, I notice the same. A lot of money for nothing, as it appears that they will not increase bike riding downtown.

Montreal13

Mostly because there is not a save place to leave a bike if a person does decide to shop there.

SophieR

Excellent letter.

Councillor Dodic should have shown more respect for the planning process that is ultimately directed by our elected decision makers, past and present. Making the roads safe for multiple modes of transportation is an important mandate for Council as visioned in the Municipal Development Plan and articulated in related master plans.

buckwheat

I watched this and administration attempted to make Dodic look dumb and uninformed. Information such as when does the money have to be spent before it is relinquished. The infrastructure manager, didn’t have that available, had a minion run upstairs to get it. They looked at his resolution, had two weeks to prepare for answers, and couldn’t be bothered. Interesting side note, I recently spoke with one of the foreman who presided over the 7th street infrastructure renewal. It was indicated that in order for the City to receive the infrastructure grant for this project they were required to install bike lanes. Funny the person in charge of infrastructure Joel Sanchez, didn’t provide that information, he either didn’t know the information, was oblivious to the grant contract, or knew it and chose not to provide it. If this was in fact the case, there is no controversy. Kind of strange he didn’t know the details of his job. PS. They are easy to remove, the curbing is just pinned into the roadway and a paint touch up will do the trick. And the signage, looks like the windmill visual scourge going in to the CNP. 🤦‍♂️ As another side note I have ridden over 16000 km in the City of Lethbridge. The only path I have used is the Bike Boulevard, 7th Ave South, where unfortunately it the most dangerous part of the cycling world. The new ones downtown, I avoid, car doors opening, cars turning right on walk cycles, cars shooting out of alley ways, people using the lanes for walking, outdoor residents, and if I were to stop and shop, no viable place to lock up a 2500 bike to ensure having it on return. Carrying the lights, seat, front wheel into a store leaves little room to purchase and carry anything. 19 parking spots lost, personal attacks on the book man. Get rid of them.

Citi Zen

A very one-sided opinion from one of the six cyclists that actually use these paths on a regular basis. What about the 21,000 vehicles on our streets that have to go a lot out of their way to allow for this nonsense? And $43.6 million dollars spent on bike lanes?? Enough already!
Start spending that money toward a new bridge….

buckwheat

100% agree. I cycle pretty much every day and very seldom see more than two or three bikes on a 35 km run. Includes south scenic, Path off 4th street, riverbottom, up north scenic to the dog run to legacy park, Cavendish Farms Wall Mart, 28th Street, on through to Parkside drive, cedar Rd. Southbrook and on. Also included “Bike Boulevard”. If I see more than 6 bikes its abnormal. Don’t need more paths while the pointy heads do their thing blowing money trial to change a mobile culture (automobiles) Yesterday, beautiful day, thought I would check out the downtown. I was the only bike on 4th Ave from City to the Firehall. Speaks for itself.

Keilan

$43.6 million is the cost over many dozens of projects. See the cycling master plan below – Phase 1 includes 38 projects and will cost $21.9 million. Phase 2 brings it to $43.6 million and includes even more.
https://www.lethbridge.ca/media/q5gpotfo/cycling-master-plan.pdf
For some context, twinning University Drive from the stadium to Sunridge Boulevard cost $10M, the pedestrian bridge over Highway 3 on Scenic was $2.6M, and the cheaper 3rd bridge option is $188M.
Claiming we’ve spent $43.6 million on bike lanes is kind of like if you see the city fixing a pot hole and claim it cost the entire road maintenance budget for the next 20 years.

SophieR

Or it’s kind of like 10 cents a day for each person in lethbidge to provide a safe way to cycle in the city. Lots of drama, but no perspective.

Citi Zen

Or buy 2800 electric bikes, that would then justify more bike lanes.

Last edited 4 months ago by Citi Zen
SophieR

Good idea. A bike subsidy and more bike lanes. Add in bucky’s secure bike parkade ‘and the world will be a better place, for you and for me and the entire human race …’

gs172

I dont care if its 5 cents. In 1991 I moved into my first house in the London road area and my front sidewalk was scheduled for renewal due to cracks and slabs lifting. I moved in 2014 still no new sidewalks. Was in the neighborhood last year, guess what no new sidewalks. I probably had the city there a half dozen times with their tape measures only getting edges grinded down or maybe some asphalt to level the area. The city had no problems taking my property tax though. I won’t even go into the condition of the street. It’s been a couple years I’m sure 4th avenue in front of city hall is due for repaying. What would that 10 cents a day provide for the police or the fire department?

biff

while in favour of encouraging cycling, i agree with regard to the city’s lack of concern for existing infrastructure issues, and also find it ridiculous how often 4th ave s in front of city gets looked after so well, while the most of the city’s roads pound our vehicles mercilessly.

R.U.Serious

The bicycle paths were not being utilized that are built! Ought we burn through millions of dollars for each little group who want their own special project built for their own special desires? I would note from your remark that this isn’t the Netherlands and what works for the Dutch won’t work here! There are may contrasts! There were no bicycles utilizing the new paths and businesses and consumers were affected in a bad way, more so than had positive encounters. These bike lanes come at a high cost to an area that has already being devastated from other ‘great ideas’, for example, the Supervised Drug Consumption Site and COVID. 
Quit attempting to kill downtown! How much can one safely carry on a bicycle after you purchase downtown. The drug dealers and the addicts don’t even utilize them!
My business has already been through even and we don’t need anymore high costing experiments in our area. We are tired of being experimented on! There are a lot of different paths already available in the area, which I use myself often. Bringing more bikes downtown will just give the thieves more bikes to steal and sell for drugs! Maybe you don’t know about the high ‘locked’ bicycle thefts downtown!!
I and many others are very pleased that Councillor Dodic has returned to sit on Council and I think those who have attacked him should be charged. It surpassed reason and just because you think you can say anthing you want on social media, there are laws that are in place, with legal precidents already won, that prove different.
There are lines and they were crossed!

Last edited 4 months ago by R.U.Serious
ReallyReally

I have never heard anyone refer to COVID as a “great idea” before. I am going to guess that some estimated twenty million people (figures vary widely I know; I split the difference on some estimates reported through various dates) who died from the illness and the millions more who are still facing “long COVID” health concerns will disagree with even your light-hear-ted take on that illness.
My remark above is also meant to demonstrate how out of context remarks from all sides of an issue can be interpreted, can be “bent out of shape”. I do not think Al Beeber’s emotional and somewhat vague and perplexing-cum-ambiguous defence of Councillor Dodic in a separate editorial is exactly the best example of the civil discussion that needs to be convened, even up to the very standards that he is even expecting of others. Insults and name-calling are insults and name-calling; let’s not forget hyperbole as fuel for these fires. Poor communication PERIOD is fuelling the anger and tensions that everyone involved in this issue is seemingly feeling. Apparently council is now hoping to provide an open mike “for” all who wish to express their opinions on the matter… and more hopefully suggestions that will develop a compromise at least ?
Council should be prepared to discuss why the miserable communications between apparently not just business people and city admin, as well as confusion for council members such as Councillor Dodic got us to this stage.