City & Politics, City Hall, Planning

Area councillor stricken with cyclophobia

Transcona councillor Russ Wyatt is attempting to stall efforts to improve and expand the city’s active transportation network through the downtown area, citing (unfounded) concerns about its negative impact on area businesses.

In a letter to area business owners, Wyatt warned the proposed 13 new bike lanes may mean—gasp!—a loss of parking spaces. (Winnipeg’s downtown area currently has approximately 32,000 stalls.) Calling the downtown bike-and-pedestrian strategy “unrealistic,” he noted the plan “ignored the facts” about road usage.

Facts he may have missed: the Downtown BIZ, which represents area business owners, supports the plan; bike paths can actually spark renewed development in downtown areas, as was the case in Minneapolis; cycling to work can actually reduce stress once there; cities across the Globe are rapidly embracing protected bike lanes and actively pursuing bike-and-pedestrian transportation options; Europe, long a leader in this field, continues its push to get people out of cars and onto bicycles—Seville being the latest to see positive results.

No doubt any move to create more protected bike lanes may mean repurposing portions of roads used previously for parking cars. It is no doubt a “fact” cars use roads and can be parked upon them. It is also a fact cars are driven by people, some of whom if given the opportunity to safely use a bicycle instead would happily do so—and the net benefits to the area factually positive ones.