Thursday, March 5, 2009

$100 Million for bike plan?

Many will question the decision to put this much money towards a bike plan (just read the comments section of the article). Does it not make sense to spend the money on investment that will pay for itself over time by providing more transit options for Edmonton residents. 

The greater benefit could be a reduction in VMT and cars on the road, which would lead to less maintenance of the roads and cost savings. I think Edmonton is taking a bold, and even wise stance, on making plans for a transit mode, the bike, that will be sustainable in the long term. Here is the article:

A new report proposes the City of Edmonton spend $100 million to create a network of multi-use trails and bicycle lanes.

Coun. Don Iveson said the plan would take Edmonton from a somewhat bike-friendly city to a very bike-friendly city. "So that more citizens can enjoy cycling as a legitimate transportation choice," he said.

The plan would be rolled out, in three phases, over the next 10 years.

The first phase involves building wide curb lanes, and painting lines marking a bike lane on arterial roads as they come up on the maintenance schedule for resurfacing. The cost for phase one is $35.4 million.

The second phase places more emphasis on new path construction, and expanding the network of multi-use trails that already exist, at a cost of $39 million.

The third phase focuses on building new trails to create links to neighbouring communities, at a cost of $26.3 million.

The plan also includes adding bicycle racks to all city buses, a safety education program for cyclists and drivers, signage, and facilities for cyclists such as parking areas and lockers.

Zoe Todd is a volunteer with the Edmonton Bicycle Commuters Society. (CBC) Zoe Todd, who rides her bike to work and everywhere else in the city, is excited about the plan.

"It will be the crucial link in encouraging as many people as possible to get on their bikes and view it as a completely feasible and viable transportation option in the city," she said.

A member of the Edmonton Bicycle Commuters Society, Todd said a recent survey of cyclists suggested safety is their top concern.

"This plan would help to ensure that people can get on their bikes and can get around the city safely and efficiently," she said.

Coun. Tony Catarina said he wouldn't support the plan when it comes before the city's transportation and public works committee on March 3. He said Edmonton is already well-served with almost 1,000 kilometres of bicycle trails and believes the proposal is too costly given the few cyclists who use trails in winter.

"I'm really sort of stunned to say the least that we're considering $100 million on a project like this," Catarina said.

"They're asking for something that's a wish list, and if we just open our eyes and see where the economy is today, we're almost in a recession," he said.

Iveson disagreed, saying: "This is about an investment in the long term."

No comments: