ITE Journal - March 2021 - 17

inside the industry |

Turning Edmonton's Bike Story
into Edmonton's Bike Plan
In 2009, Edmonton City Council in Canada approved
a Bicycle Transportation Plan which focused on
developing an on-street bike network throughout
the city. The approach to implementation can be best
described as opportunistic, in that it focused on new
bike routes located on underused streets as they were
being reconstructed. This approach led to bike route
implementation in areas with low demand, resulting
in a disconnected network. While there was public
engagement during the development of the bike plan,
not enough effort was made to engage with Edmontonians affected by the changes. For many, it was a rather
sudden implementation of bike lanes, which often
resulted in the loss of on-street parking or fewer travel
lanes, and this created frustration and angst. 
Some of the new bike lanes had to be removed, and a
new conversation on cycling was needed. The city reset
the discussion through the What the B*ke! campaign by
issuing a public apology and identifying the need for a
new implementation and engagement approach. The disruption that the bike lanes created allowed for necessary
conversations between the public, administration, and the
city council about how the city should plan and design for
bikes in Edmonton. The result was implementation of a
comprehensive six-stage public engagement process that
gave stakeholders and communities more clarity on the
process and ability to influence decisions. The new focus
was to build a network of protected bike lanes, starting in
the high use, central areas and extending out. 
For the key projects that were then moving forward,
there was careful engagement along the way. The focus
was on high quality engagement and high quality bike
facilities. This took time. Over the course of three years,
thousands were engaged on the new projects but there
was growing concern that not enough was actually
being built. In the summer of 2016, the city council
directed city staff to plan, design, and build a network
of bike routes in our downtown and to do it quickly. A
year later, an 8-kilometer (5-mile) network of adaptable,
physically separated bike lanes were open. 
While there was nothing easy about implementing a
downtown bike network in less than a year, the change
management required to usher in a new era of bike planning proved to be far more challenging than expected.

Developing integrated processes across delivery methods
and creating meaningful engagement strategies, while
also embracing the continuous evolution of bike planning
and design practices, challenged every aspect of city
building. The ability of planners, engineers, and designers
to embrace these challenges have set the foundation for
the next chapter in Edmonton's bike story.
We then turned Edmonton's Bike Story into
Edmonton's Bike Plan to guide not only how biking in
Edmonton will look and feel in the future, but also how
it will be implemented, based on the learnings from the
past 10 years. The Bike Plan was shaped by a substantial
engagement program, includes a clear narrative for
why we pursue cycling as a city, includes clear technical
analysis and results in long-term network definition and
supportive program areas to pursue.
The Bike Plan is the culmination of two years of
engagement with residents of Edmonton. Through 62
public events including workshops, pop-up events,
drop-in sessions, surveys and community conversations,
just over 11,500 Edmontonians gave us their feedback
about biking in Edmonton. We heard from so many
people: those who are avid cyclists and those who don't
support bike lanes; those who would love to bike more
but are nervous; and those who will probably never ride
a bike. Edmontonians were clear: biking must be inviting for people of all ages and abilities for all reasons, in
all seasons. 
We heard that our future cycling actions have to be
guided by values of:
*		 Fun and functional - Biking enriches the lives
of Edmontonians and sparks joy by being a safe,
enjoyable and practical way to get around
*		 Equitable - Biking is a valid and practical option
for people of all ages, abilities, backgrounds and
walks of life.

By Daniel
Vriend, P.Eng,
City of Edmonton,
and Dallas
Karhut, P.Eng.,
City of Edmonton

w w w .i t e.or g

M a rch 2021

17


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ITE Journal - March 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ITE Journal - March 2021

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