In this edition
A Colourful Wrap to 2023
The final month of 2023 brought a lively end to a tumultuous year, and the Saskatoon Cycles membership played a significant role in the action! We dedicate this last newsletter of the year to all of you, for helping to show how much our city wants better infrastructure.
In preparation for the Standing Policy Committee on Transportation meeting on December 5, 2023, we called for a strong show of support from the cycling community for the administration’s proposal to implement the “Neighbourhood Bikeways 30 km/h Speed Limit Policy”.
Dozens of thoughtful, powerful letters of support poured in (see below for some samples).
So focused on the speed limit proposal were we, however, that we almost overlooked the continuation of the “Connecting Avenue C: Walking and Cycling Improvement Project”, which was another initiative being developed by city administration. This project aimed to create another bikeway from Spadina to 38th St. on Avenue C, with a further phase adding shared-use paths north of Circle Drive.
Fortunately, both items were forwarded to city council on December 20, 2023, where they were passed, again with an overwhelming amount of support from the cycling community.
Proponents, including Saskatoon Cycles, were excited by the increased safety, connectivity, and accessibility the administration-led proposals would bring for people using active transportation (walking, cycling, rolling, etc.).
A number of objections were raised (primarily to the Avenue C item) during the proceedings: project cost, parking capacity, safety, impact to specific businesses, and overall utilization were chief among them.
Concerns obviously exist. However, almost all spoken presentations and submitted letters on December 20, even those against the Ave C project, went out of their way to support cycling in general and went even further to affirm no objection to “bike lanes” themselves. Time and again, people opposed to the Connect Ave. C project insisted they were not against the concept of “bike lanes”, but just “not here, and not now”. (In the interest of clarification: on Avenue C North between 38th and 45th streets, no “bike lanes” are proposed. Rather, this phase would see “shared-use paths”, which are essentially a slightly wider sidewalk to be used by multi-modal users.)
As we head into 2024, Saskatoon Cycles is starting with some basic assumptions.
We believe that most Saskatoon citizens want:
- a safe city
- an accessible city
- a healthy city
- an efficient city
- a prosperous city
If all stakeholders in our community agree on these features of a great city, then finding solutions to modern problems should be simple.
However, complexity quickly arises:
- Who defines “safe, accessible, healthy, efficient, and prosperous”?
- Who decides what will work to improve these features?
- How do they arrive at these decisions?
- Can we afford to implement changes to achieve these ends?
- Can we afford to NOT implement changes?
We intend to ask questions about what kind of community we want to live in and how we might get there as effectively as we can.
The business community gains from better infrastructure. A city that prioritizes safety for all modes of transportation will by default include more people in the economy, which leads to a strong commercial sector and more prosperity.
Motorists gain from better infrastructure. Urban design that offers active users safer routes will reduce congestion and accidents. Smooth, safe travel is better for everyone, regardless of mode of transportation.
The community gains from better infrastructure. Providing safer and more connected transportation corridors gets people more active, reduces pollution, and increases accessibility for all ages, abilities, and economic means. This kind of inclusivity is welcoming to those wanting to make Saskatoon a home, and worth investing in.
In 2024, Saskatoon Cycles will be inviting you to be part of this conversation about making Saskatoon a great place to live. When opportunities for infrastructure improvements arise, we’ll be asking, “if not here, why not and where? If not now, why not and when?”
We are looking forward to hearing your voice join the conversation!
The following are excerpts from among the dozens of letters of support sent to city council:
“This is not a war on cars issue. This is an issue of equity and reality.
The reality is that the northwest corner of the city is not accessible to people who are not driving. It is a completely hostile environment, even to those driving cars. This is an area with many businesses that employ many people. These employees and customers don’t have any other option but to drive a car to these locations. This is not equitable.
Some would suggest that this type of infrastructure is good, but just not on Ave C…. put it somewhere else.
Where else can it go? Ave C is the only street west of Idylwyld that actually connects neighbourhoods to the south across circle drive to the north. There is literally nowhere else that the city can provide access for other modes of transportation to access the businesses and airport without spending an exorbitant amount of money building an overpass elsewhere.”
“Personally, I have had 3 different jobs in that part of the city in my life (at a call center, a restaurant, and a manufacturing facility) and none of them required me to transport anything to or from the workplace. I regularly travelled to one by bike and by bus (with great difficulty). At another, the job posting stated owning a car and having a driver’s license was a requirement of the job—not because driving was part of your duties, but because management had deemed it impossible to reliably get to work without driving. There are plenty of good jobs in the industrial area, but by restricting physical access to certain modes of transportation we unfairly exclude many people. We also force others into car dependency (which is much more expensive than public transportation or cycling) at a time when people are struggling to find ways to live affordably.”
“The proposal to specifically extend the separated bicycle access along Avenue C north of Circle Drive to 45th St addresses a real safety problem. Traffic on Ave C on the north side of 42nd moves more like freeway traffic in its connection of Circle Drive and 51st. While approaching 42nd on C northbound I, and the other cycling commuters I regularly saw, would avoid crossing the intersection as vehicles and instead ride through the Coop Home Center parking lot, cross 42nd as pedestrians, then ride through the Sandman Hotel parking lot to connect to Cynthia St. If needing to continue further north on C, a cyclist is left to jog over to a narrow street such as Hanselman Ave, or string together a patchwork route of parking lots, crossing vehicular traffic at the entries of these lots and at intersections that have no pedestrian infrastructure and do not cue a driver to the presence of any non-motorized traffic.”
You can also read a recent op-ed by Jason Hanson in The Star Phoenix here.
Details of December 20, 2023 City Council meeting:
Connecting Avenue C: Walking and Cycling Improvement Project
- 86 submissions
- 72 in favour, 14 opposed
- Council votes 6-5 to approve.
Neighbourhood Bikeways 30 km/h Speed Limit Policy
- 83 submissions
- 82 in favour, 1 opposed
- Council votes 8 – 3 to approve.
Slow Roll – January 27, 2024
We’ll be ushering in the New Year a little late with our “The weather’s brisk, but delightful” Slow Roll on Saturday, January 27, 2024. It’ll be a relaxed pace on a low-to-no traffic route, the perfect atmosphere to chill out with others.
Join us at the River Landing Fire Vessel (between Remai Modern and Sugar Shack) for a 2PM departure time.
Better Cycling Data with Strava and BikeMaps.org
We’ll be reminding you frequently in 2024, but still take our last chance this year to ask you to help lay the groundwork for better cycling in Saskatoon. One of the biggest missing pieces surrounding cycling in Saskatoon is data that indicates how much is happening and where. You can get started on the remedy for that today.
- Install Strava on your phone and track every ride or walk you take. You only need a free account. And if you already use a tracking app, check to see if it has a Strava integration. There are more than 100 apps that Strava connects with.
Strava anonymizes the data from all users in an area and creates the Strava heatmap. Images from these heatmaps were a powerful visual to show that there are cyclists and walkers using the streets north of Circle Drive on Ave C. But we need as many cyclists as possible to be using that system!
- Bookmark Bikemaps.org and report every time you have a cycling crash, a near-miss, see a cycling hazard, or have your bike stolen.
This is NOT instead of calling an ambulance or the police. Absolutely do that first if it’s needed!! Bikemaps.org is a system that aims to catch as many as possible of the almost 70% of all cycling incidents or near misses that don’t get reported officially.
Every time you report a near miss or collision it helps identify danger spots. The more people who use the system to report whenever they experience something unpleasant the more accurately we can see the dangerous spots that need priority attention.
Year End Donations (can wait a bit)
If you are looking to maximize your taxable charity donations for the year, we encourage you to make your last minute donations to other worthy causes. We will be here in the new year working for Cycling in Saskatoon and we will be grateful for your support then.
Don’t get us wrong. We are delighted to have your financial support at any time of year! And you are welcome to make donations as the year winds down if the taxable receipt isn’t an issue. Just hit up our secure donation page at saskatooncycles.org/donate if you wish to do so.
Your donations give us the resources to press toward a Saskatoon where cycling is a viable, year-round mode of transportation that is safe, convenient, and comfortable for all ages.
We want your kids and their grandma to simply hop on their bikes to go grab an ice cream and enjoy the beauty of Saskatoon. For you or your partner to pick up groceries or a library book. And we really want you to be able to commute to work and back safely and conveniently.
Your donation helps us work on these three ‘pillars’ of cycling development for Saskatoon:
- Infrastructure – A safe, convenient, comfortable and well maintained cycling network throughout the city that allows cyclists to go from every neighbourhood to key destinations
- Ridership – Educate, encourage, and promote cycling so more people choose bicycles as a convenient and safe transportation option year round.
- Culture – Educate, encourage, and promote diversity in ridership with respectful inclusion of all modes of transportation.