Edmonton Bike Infrastructure: A History
Cycling was largely considered a recreational activity for the latter part of the 20th century in Edmonton. Excellent multi-use trails (MUT) on which bicycles are welcome were built in the river valley park system, but what little other bicycle infrastructure was installed was done so as an afterthought. Edmonton adopted the Bicycle Transportation Plan in 1992. Very little was done with it (the main effect was that arterial roads were built with wide curb lanes) until after it was updated again in 2009, 17 years later.
As Edmonton started to push for Downtown redevelopment in the late 1990s, a path was built beside the new Railtown development on 110th Street, and in 2003 a path was built that connected the downtown to the High Level Bridge. Then, as cycling began to surge in popularity all over North America, Edmonton proposed to introduce bike infrastructure on a large scale throughout the city. There was extensive public consultation, and City Council passed the Way We Move transportation plan in 2009, which was supposed to cause “a shift in transportation modes away from single occupant vehicles” (source). It proposed a 500 kilometre network of bike routes throughout the city.
The city began to roll out its bike lane plan in 2011, with the addition of on-street bike lanes in high-profile locations such as 106 Street and 76 Avenue, south of Whyte Avenue. The routes have seen a significant increase in ridership since their installation, with spikes of upwards of 100% in some places.
In 2013/2014, City Council rebooted its bike infrastructure strategy. In June 2014 it approved a grid of high-quality bike routes in central Edmonton. The difference between what they are proposing now, compared to the previous strategy, is that the routes will be high-quality (they will make all types of cyclists feel comfortable on the road) and they will be in dense neighborhoods that already have high rates of cycling.