Regina cyclists will soon be able to use bike lanes in the Cathedral neighbourhood and connect to parts of the pathway network.
The lanes, scheduled to be built in 2021, will feature a protected structure from York Street to Forget Street, according to the city. Cyclists will then be able to access the Devonian Pathway, which connects to trails in the north part of the city.
Cyclists will have to cross the crosswalk at Lewvan Drive and 13 Avenue to access the advisory lanes on 14 Avenue.
The lanes are part of Regina’s plans to create what it calls the Crosstown Route, which will eventually connect to downtown in 2023.
As part of the plan, the advisory lanes on 14 Avenue will stretch from Edward Street to Elphinstone Street. The advisory lanes don’t feature permanent fixtures but are marked on the pavement.
“We’re happy more infrastructure is getting built and city council is slowly trying to be more inclusive for biking and proactive for biking,” said Bert Seidel, a board member with Bike Regina.
The lanes are part of the city’s Transportation Master Plan, which has identified a need for bike lanes linking downtown to the surrounding areas.
A sketch of where the new bike lanes will be located. (Google Maps)
Despite the city adding more lanes, some are concerned about potential safety issues with the advisory lanes.
For example, they aren’t protected, and cars are required to pull into the lane and yield when there is oncoming traffic. One of the advisory lanes also travels alongside a parking lane.
While Seidel said the lanes can come across to some people as dangerous, they are common in European cities where more cyclists are on the road.
“When people drive down narrow roads, they tend to automatically slow down, so I’m hoping the bike lane will create that same effect on 14 Avenue,” he said.
The advisory lanes will be piloted for one year, according to the city. If it’s considered unsuccessful, it will be re-designed.
“It’s baby steps,” Seidel said. “Protected bike lanes are the safest way to go about it, but it’s the most expensive way.”
A printout of how advisory lanes work. (City of Regina)
The city said 14 Avenue is narrower, has low traffic volumes and isn’t a transit route.
“There are no houses that front on to it, and traffic speeds average around 40 km/h. It is a suitable location to introduce advisory bike lanes as a new way for vehicles and cyclists to share the road,” it said in an email.
The city said the lanes have been successfully implemented in Victoria and Ottawa, and are becoming increasingly common across North America. As well, it said the lanes are common in Europe.
Going forward, Seidel said Regina can become more bike friendly as long as city council is committed and that more people realize protected bike lanes make it easier to cycle safely.
“Once they realize this is a safe place to ride, and that this is fun and a healthy way to commute, it’ll be easier to have more bike lanes and infrastructure,” he said.