What good are (bike) plans without implementation?

Bike lanes have been in the news again, largely thanks to Mayor Mandel referring to the plans as a “nightmare” on Wednesday. It’s pretty clear that our poor public consultation practices are part of the problem here, but there’s another issue at play. As a city we’re good at talking the talk, but we too often fail at walking the walk.

From The Way Ahead:

In shifting Edmonton’s transportation modes the City recognizes the importance of mobility shifts to contribute to the achievement of other related goals. To do so suggests the need to transform the mix of transport modes, with emphasis on road use for goods movement and transiting people and transit use for moving people.

From The Way We Move’s Strategic Goals:

Public transportation and active transportation are the preferred choice for more people, making it possible for the transportation system to move more people more efficiently in fewer vehicles.

From The Way We Move’s Implementation Plan:

Active transportation includes any form of human-powered transportation, the most common modes being walking and biking. A key direction of The Way We Move is to develop an integrated and sustainable transportation system in Edmonton to enable citizens to shift to these modes.

And then of course there is the Active Transportation Policy which declares, “the City of Edmonton strives to be pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly.”

Our plans and goals and policies all seem to support taking steps to make cycling in Edmonton more common. We know that doing so will help to reduce traffic congestion, preserve our road infrastructure, protect the environment, and make us healthier. Our goal of building 500 km of on-street cycling facilities in the next 10 to 20 years is achievable, and we can be confident it’ll help shift our transportation modes because just as you get more drivers when you add more roads, research suggests you get more cyclists if you add more bike lanes (pdf).

So why does it seem so difficult to make any actual progress?

Isaak Kornelsen Memorial Ride - August 31, 2012

When the 2012-2014 Capital Budget was being discussed, Active Transportation nearly missed out on funding. After lots of public feedback and discussion, Council amended the budget and did include $20 million. Now we get around to actually spending some of that money on cycling – $2 million or less this year – and we once again seem to be forced into the position of having to fight to move things forward. One step forward, two steps backward.

Without question the way the City does public consultation contributed to this mess – there’s a lot of room for improvement. But “poor public consultation” is also a convenient scapegoat for politicians and citizens opposed to the plans. There’s no conspiracy here. The notion of adding bike lanes to our streets didn’t suddenly appear one day out of thin air. These plans have been in the works for years.

All we need to do now is walk the walk.

You can learn more about Cycling in Edmonton here, and note the City is running a survey on the 2013 Bike Routes until February 27.

Two other thoughts:

  • Why wasn’t there any outrage about the loss of parking when the bike parking corrals were put in place over the summer? Was it just because they were temporary?
  • Am I the only one annoyed that we’re spending 10 to 30 times more on a “mechanized access” project for the River Valley that has no clear plan than we are on bike lanes?

6 thoughts on “What good are (bike) plans without implementation?

  1. The plans are a natural product of the mandate (create a city-wide network that actually goes places) and the limitations (budget, minimal traffic disruption) the planners were given, and they’ve done a competent and detailed job. The impact on parking, etc, is extremely minimal and probably unavoidable given that they’re retrofitting into existing spaces. While the lane/sharrow vocabulary they’re working with is not as ambitious as it could be, the routes do add value, and my hope is that once those routes are established they can be upgraded in future years.

    Mandel’s idea that if we could just re-jig everything and “consult” more we could find a way to do it with zero trade-offs is purely a stalling tactic. These lanes are extremely modest. If we can’t find the political will to build *this*, we can’t build anything.

  2. Bike lanes in Edmonton are waste of money… Does the city
    want to traffic jams on all roads just to do a favour to less than 1% of bike
    riders? This is nonsense… It’s much wiser to spend this money to fix the
    existing roads.

  3. What good are the bike plans, period? Even if you had them, only very devoted riders would be able to use them based simply on the distance between places. There is just no way to get meaningful bike use out of the vast majority of the populace on a city wide basis.

    I know its a problem of density (which I just commented on elsewhere) but …well lets repeat that comment: what is the incentive to change this? I don’t see it . It doesn’t make any sense given all the other cards already in the deck.

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