Extending Winnipeg active transportation routes until fall gains support but has critics

By | June 9, 2020

A push to extend the temporary closure of nine Winnipeg streets to vehicle traffic got plenty of support Tuesday, while others want city council to slow down and examine what’s already in place.

The nine streets were closed earlier this spring to provide active transportation options to residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. Vehicle traffic is limited to one block from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the routes, seven days a week.

The temporary closures are set to end on July 6, but on Tuesday, the city’s infrastructure and public works committee heard from several councillors and a dozen delegations about extending the closures for another two months.

St. Boniface Coun. Matt Allard has a motion that would extend the active transportation routes until the September long weekend.

“The majority of people I have heard from in my ward supports keeping them open,” Allard said on Tuesday.

Several councillors appeared in front of the committee in full support of the motion, but others say changes should be made before the life of the routes is extended.

Mynarski Coun. Ross Eadie says he has “no real problem” with the routes, one of which — Scotia Street — is in his ward.

Coun. Ross Eadie says he supports the routes but says the city doesn’t quite understand some of the tension they create between drivers and cyclists and pedestrians. (CBC)

But he did inject a note of caution about the interaction between pedestrians, cyclists and drivers on the routes.

“There is tension on all sides,” Eadie said, adding the restrictions bring out the “aggressive nature” in people while attempting to share the road.

Assiniboine may not be right fit for route 

The councillor for Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood says there was little advance notice to residents when five more routes were added in early May to the four that had opened up in April.

“There was no information given to residents.… It was just done,” Kevin Klein told the committee.

Assiniboine Avenue from Bedson Street to Westwood Drive, which is in Klein’s ward, was among the routes added in May.

He says there are six bus stops on the street and no proper signage was put in place to explain the changes to residents.

Klein says perhaps the route could remain closed to vehicles on the weekends or evenings, but whatever happens with the motion to extend the routes until the fall, residents and the local councillors should be consulted first.

Westwood resident Darlene Van Ruiten agreed with Klein on both the concerns about the bus stops on the route, and the lack of consultation.

“There wasn’t any time to speak to residents that this was coming,” Van Ruiten told the committee.

She says the barricades on the street have created a potential danger, as transit buses attempt to manoeuvre around them. 

St. Boniface Coun. Matt Allard says as a city, ‘we are still coming to understand what a shared street looks like.’ (John Einarson/CBC )

The Green Action Centre appeared in support of extending the routes beyond the current nine streets, urging councillors to follow the lead of other cities around the world.

“Create a pop-up network routes accessible by foot and bikes,” urged the Green Action Centre’s Mel Marginet.

After hearing from some councillors and delegations, Allard allowed there may be a need to tweak some routes.

“I want to acknowledge there have been a number of concerns raised by residents and councillors,” Allard said.

The infrastructure and public works committee is expected to vote on Allard’s motion later Tuesday. It also has to pass executive policy committee before a full vote of city council.

View original article here Source