The City of Edmonton is moving forward with a pilot project for Victoria Parkway to create what it says is a “more accessible space.”
Current plans involve removing the parking lot and creating a separate bike path in each direction on the north and south side.
This means a loss of around 20 parking spaces along the north side of the parkway – five are designated as loading zones – and some residents are unhappy with the change.
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“We wouldn’t have a place to park when our guests came,” said Lorraine McBain, who lives on Victoria Drive.
“We don’t like it – none of us like it – so we had a petition put out. Every condo had a petition and now we’re going to take it to the city and see where we go from there.
There is hope that the city will leave room for adjustments.
“My main concern other than parking is the potential for conflict with all the driveways and intersections,” said area resident Colleen Stepney.
Access to buildings is also a big concern according to area residents, especially for emergency vehicles and people with reduced mobility.
“We would like to see it developed in a way that increases access to the area,” Stepney said.
The city said Victoria Parkway is an important part of its active transportation plan, but not all existing bike lanes meet its standards.
“Due to high vehicular traffic and speeds, Victoria Parkway has been identified as a substandard cycleway that needs upgrading to accommodate cyclists of all ages and abilities,” said Jessica Lamarre, director of Safe Mobility of the City of Edmonton, in a press release.
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Over the past two years, mobility lanes have been installed as part of a citywide project to comply with COVID-19 distancing guidelines.
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“Based on feedback received in 2020 and 2021, the road narrowing on Victoria Drive has reduced speeds and supported street safety and livability,” Lamarre explained. “However, there was frustration with the look and mobility of the cones, as well as confusion with directionality and how to use the mobility lane while cycling.
“Given this feedback, the city plans to use adaptable infrastructure to make the corridor safer, more welcoming and accessible for all ages and abilities. This would allow Edmontonians to test data and research-based concepts designed to build a more livable city.
In March and April, the city said it gathered feedback on four proposed options for this project.
However, several area residents felt that there had not been enough initial consultations.
“We’re not against the bike lane,” McBain said. “Just double back (the south bike path) in all directions and leave the parking lot here for us.”
“We’re hoping for some adjustments to the plan,” Stepney added.
Ward O-day’min County. Anne Stevenson said she understands the concerns and is in discussions with the community and city staff to consider options.
“When I first looked at this I thought, ‘Of course, that’s a no-brainer. We should have a two-way lane on the south side of the promenade — that would make so much more sense. You would have the bike lanes, parking and a lane of traffic – everyone wins,” Stevenson told Global News on Wednesday.
In the end, she said it wasn’t a “workable solution.”
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She acknowledged that residents did not feel they were given adequate notice or an opportunity to participate in the decision-making process.
“The most important thing to remember is that this is a pilot project and I actually think it might be a good opportunity to see how it works before anything permanent is put in place,” Stevenson said.
Residents are encouraged to be diligent in tracking their experience to provide feedback to the city in the fall.
Stevenson noted that work to make the changes will take about 10 days and will begin in early July.
“Victoria Drive is a bike lane often used by people and at the moment there is only one painted bike lane in one direction,” she said.
“It’s about improving those facilities there that we know are well used by cyclists and pedestrians to make transportation options safer and more accessible.”
The city noted that full information about the project will be shared publicly next week.
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