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Polo Park Infrastructure Improvements – A Missed Opportunity

Raised cycle tracks could provide a true high quality bicycle arterial on St. Mathews

The second open house for the Polo Park Infrastructure Improvements project will take place in the Center Court of the Polo Park Shopping Centre on Thursday May 8th. A detailed design has been completed and a construction staging plan developed. Bike Winnipeg is concerned that the plans moving forward fail to address the vision being put forth in the pedestrian and cycling strategies – to ensure that walking and cycling are safe, convenient, practical, and attractive transportation choices for people of all ages and abilities.

Please make an effort to get out to tonight’s Polo Park Infrastructure Improvements open house to demand that the widening of St. Mathews include physically separated bicycle lanes. If you can’t make it out to tonight’s meeting, you can also send feedback by calling 311 or by sending an email to ppii@winnipeg.ca.

Date: Thursday, May 8, 2014
Time: 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Location: Polo Park Shopping Centre, Centre Court
Format: Drop in
Available to view: Detailed design and construction staging plan

Polo Park Infrastructure Improvements – A Missed Opportunity

Despite Bike Winnipeg’s November 2013 submission to the project consultants asking for the proposed bike lanes along St. Mathews to be upgraded to separated bicycle lanes (we suggested providing raised cycle tracks), the project plan still only calls for painted bike lanes along St. Mathews. This is a regrettable decision that seems to contradict planning currently underway to fulfill the goal stated in the city’s Complete Communities plan – to “create strong, multi-modal and transportation linkages from each Regional Mixed Use Centre to Downtown, other Centres, Corridors, Parks and major attractions.”

In the proposed bicycle network developed for the pedestrians and cycling strategies currently underway, St. Mathews has been identified as one of the “spokes” to be developed as a high quality bicycle arterial providing a connection to the downtown. To match that role, the proposed network calls for the installation of protected bicycle lanes on St. Mathews from Maryland to St. James.

A raised cycle track on St. Mathews would provide a true high quality bicycle arterial

A raised cycle track on St. Mathews would provide a true high quality bicycle arterial. Photo: http://flyingpigeon-la.com

That sounds great, but unless those protected bicycle lanes continue through to Ferry Road and a planned pathway connection to the Yellow Ribbon Trail and the western reaches of the city, we won’t get the high quality bicycle arterial that’s envisioned. We’ll get a high quality bicycle arterial with a big gap in the middle, and that gap will exist through one of the most popular destinations in the city. For a $30 million project, this is unacceptable. Especially since for a relatively small expense, we can include cycling facilities that will have a huge impact on the number of people choosing to leave their cars at home and bike to their destinations.

Protected Bicycle Lanes Encourage More People to Bike More Often

Research undertaken to provide input into the city’s pedestrian and cycling strategies showed that Winnipeggers had a clear preference for separated bike lanes, and would choose to travel on their bikes far more often if they were provided on major streets.

A random, representative telephone survey of 600 people conducted in 2013 found that 46% city residents would like to cycle more often, and that 38% of respondents viewed cycling as a very important part of their life. So what would be the best way to actually get more people biking? Survey data found that the largest segment of potential cyclists fits into the widely used “Interested but Concerned” category described in pioneering research out of Portland, Oregon.

Demand protected bicycle lanes as part of the Polo Park Infrastructure Improvements

Cyclists are far more comfortable when provided with protected bicycle lanes

As shown to the left, the Portland research has shown that having facilities that are physically separated from traffic has a huge impact on comfort level of the “interested but concerned” cyclists.

This agrees strongly with what was found in Winnipeg, where 47% of survey respondents stated that separated bicycle lanes would get them to cycle more often or much more often.

47% of respondents stated they would bike more or much more oftenif provided with physically separated bicycle lanes.

47% of respondents stated they would bike more or much more oftenif provided with physically separated bicycle lanes.

So there is an obvious opportunity to get more people cycling instead of driving to or through the Polo Park area, but to realize that potential the city’s investment of $30 million into the Polo Park Infrastructure Improvements must include physically separated bicycle lanes along St. Mathews.

Please make an effort to get out to tonight’s Polo Park Infrastructure Improvements open house to demand that the widening of St. Mathews include physically separated bicycle lanes. If you can’t make it out to tonight’s meeting, you can also send feedback by calling 311 or by sending an email to ppii@winnipeg.ca.

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