Edmonton city councillors voted in favour of building 100 kms of bike lanes that will cost Alberta’s capital city $170 million — plus another $11 million annually to maintain.

City administrators presented four options with costing at $25 million, $90 million, $130 million or $170 million. Councillors chose the most expensive option with the highest annual operating costs.

The proposal will increase Edmonton’s 15 kms of bike lanes by another 100 kms, largely in the city centre.

“We have to get serious about building out our active transportation network,” Coun. Ashley Salvador said during an Urban Planning Committee hearing last week.

The two most expensive options would complete the “district connector” by 2026, while the two cheaper options wouldn’t be completed until 2030.

“Costs beyond 2026 for options A and C will be dependent on future priorities after completion of 2026 milestones,” the proposal says.

Final approval must come during budget talks this fall, according to CTV News.

Councillors voted 4-0 to move forward with the lanes. Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi voted for the proposal, as did councillors Salvador, Karen Principe and Aaron Paquette. 

In response to criticism about the proposal on Facebook, Principe denied voting for the costly proposal.

“The Urban Planning committee made a recommendation on bike lanes, my vote was not in favour of spending any money on bike lanes,” she wrote. “The Committee made a recommendation to Council and the motion was to have the final approval debated during budget deliberations in November.”

Coun. Andrew Knack said a lot of the costs for bike grids flow to traffic light upgrades, while Coun. Michael Janz said voters want more bike lanes.

“We had one of the most animated, anti-bike lane characters and a slate of folks who were spreading misinformation about cycling, about active transportation and many of them lost not just in Edmonton, but across the world,” he said.

Coun. Anne Stevenson said bikers need a physical, separated, “safe space” to choose cycling. A 2019 research paper from Melbourne’s Monash University found that motorists give cyclists an average of 27 cm less space on roads with a painted bike lane, compared to roads without a bike lane.

Author

  • Rachel Parker

    Rachel is a seasoned political reporter who’s covered government institutions from a variety of levels. A Carleton University journalism graduate, she was a multimedia reporter for three local Niagara newspapers. Her work has been published in the Toronto Star. Rachel was the inaugural recipient of the Political Matters internship, placing her at The Globe and Mail’s parliamentary bureau. She spent three years covering the federal government for iPolitics. Rachel is the Alberta correspondent for True North based in Edmonton.