July 20th, 2024

Business owner wants bike lanes modified


By Steffanie Costigan - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on March 14, 2024.

Herald photo by Steffanie Costigan John Pyska, owner of Big John's Books, measures the width of the bike lane in front of his store downtown.

The recently installed bike lanes downtown on 7th Street South have become a controversial subject with concerns being raised about parking spaces and tripping hazards.

A petition for a compromise on the bike lanes has been ongoing with 23 signatures on the petition created by John Pyska, owner of Big John’s Books.

Pyska said the recently installed bike lanes on both side of 7th street south has taken away multiple parking spaces with the bike lanes measuring approximately eight feet in width.

“I see people driving by here, as many as eight times in a circle, trying to find a parking spot. Those people leave and do not come back to the downtown. I have seen very few people on a bicycle But the amount of space they’ve taken makes it so that you can’t even walk between the cars now there’s so narrow,” he said.

Pyska said a local bike group on social media has been targeting him for his concerns about the lane and he said he has even been receiving threats, some calling for boycotts on his business and others that are threatening..

“We are just in a situation where no matter how much I explain to people how this is affecting my business. I’m just vilified as an evil person who hates bicyclists, or cyclists, which is not true.

“I’ve had threats, multiple threats now of boycotting my store/ I actually had to shut the comments off on my Facebook and Instagram because the violence started to become actual, like they’re threatening me,” said Pyska.

Other businesses who wish to remain anonymous have also express similar concerns to Pyska but are too scared to speak out due the backlash he has received on social media.

“What’s happened is, is that I’ve said this is bad for downtown. Seniors have fallen this winter and hurt themselves on multiple different places and multiple times. There’s people that have medical appointments over here who can’t actually access that because of these bike lanes, they can’t get the medical care they need because of it. And I’m talking for the seniors, people with limited mobility, and the businesses downtown,” said Pyska.

He expressed his wish that the City of Lethbridge would have considered others before pursuing the bike lanes.

“What I would like them to do is to consider other people other than themselves. And they’re trying to say that I’m not considering them . . . “

I think we could have compromised if we had any consultation about which version of the bike lane they put in. And they did not even care if we liked it or not. They’re just forcing it onto us,” he said.

Pyska said he hopes the City will consider the idea of modifying the bike lanes to fit better down 7th Street.

“What we were asking was, if you aren’t going to take them out, which obviously they’re not going to do because they’re not going to, they just told us that, why can’t we modify? That’s what I would like if we can’t do this. Because this is not working.”

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R.U.Serious

Mr. Pyska you do not stand alone and only stated what many of us have stated for some time.
Do not worry, I also own a business downtown and agree with you. When you make a stand, you always get the negative attacks, most who support you will never say anything. Those in favour are less than 1% of the population!
Keep up the great work standing for your community! If you think it is controversial now, wait until they start to convert 3 avenue south to bike lanes and reducing the traffic lanes from 4 to 2 lanes. You will see an uprising of those who oppose the change!
We support you! Ignore the comments on social media!

Keilan

Hello Steffanie, could you clarify if the petition has been changed since it was original posted? You describe it as a “petition for a compromise on the bike lanes” – while the original petition, still available on social media, says “Remove the bicycle paths in the BRZ and restore parking to the state it was in prior to construction in 2023 in order to restore pedestrian safety, acces-” (photo is cut off).”
I can’t imagine anyone would describe that as a compromise, so I’d appreciate some clarification on the current wording.