*BLUE line brings rapid transit to southwest*
Starting April 12, a dedicated 11-kilometre transitway will open in the
southwest, giving bus riders a faster, easier commute.
BLUE is a new rapid transit line that will provide frequent, reliable,
high-speed service between Winnipeg’s downtown, the University of Manitoba
and St. Norbert, according to Adam Budowski, a transit planner with
The idea of rapid transit was first introduced in Winnipeg in the 1970s,
with city council acting on it in the early 2000s when a task force was
established. The first stage was opened in 2012 with the 3.6 km-long rapid
transitway running from Queen Elizabeth Way to Jubilee Avenue. Planning for
stage two of the transitway began in 2012, with most of the construction
completed by the end of 2019.
"A big piece of this has been route planning," Budowski said. "We started
developing route plans for the transitway about two years ago and started
doing public engagement in the spring of 2019."
Transit "hollowed out" a retired bus, equipped it with poster boards and
drove this Ideas in Motion bus to transit hubs and community events to
catch people during their daily activities, according to Budowski. They
also received responses via email, for a total of around 1,000 responses.
"We’ve designed a high frequency line in a well-planned area, with 14 new
community feeder routes. People can wait at heated shelters which also
feature digital displays for real-time bus information. The transitway is
designed to move large numbers of people to where they want to go, quickly
and in a way that avoids congestion on Pembina Highway," Budowski said,
adding that there will still be buses running on Pembina for those needing
The City of Winnipeg has been working on weekends to change the bus route
signs in the southwest. The transit stops now feature a blue sign showing
the new route numbers, and an orange, temporary sign showing the old route
"We want people to know that their current bus is still coming, and get
them used to the new routes that will launch April 12," he said, adding
there are around 1,500 bus stop signs being changed.
Funding for the BLUE line included $163.8 million from the City of
Winnipeg, $93.3 million from the province and $163.3 million from the
federal government.The BLUE line will feature 28 new articulated buses,
which can carry around 100 passengers each. Each bus will feature a front
rack that can carry two bikes. There will also be bike lockers at each
station and bike racks.
"The buses will run approximately every four to five minutes during rush
hour," Budowski said.
Passengers will be able to park their cars and hop onboard a bus, thanks to
more than 1,000 park and ride spots installed at Seel Station and Clarence
Station. The parking spots are available for special events at attractions
along the BLUE Rapid Transit Line, including Investors Group Field, and are
provided free of charge for anyone using Transit services.
For those interested in active transportation, such as biking or walking, a
protected and accessible path runs the full length of the transitway,
connecting to existing active routes. It will be illuminated at night to
enhance safety and visibility.
Winnipeg Transit mailed information brochures to 75,000 households in the
southwest, as well as putting up information signs at 86 bus stations in
the downtown regarding route changes.
For more information on the BLUE transitway and route changes, see
To start planning bus routes, use the Navigo Trip Planner at
winnipegtransit.com/en/navigo and type in April 12 as the date you want to
make a trip.
Active transportation changes seen as part of virus response
BARRICADES for seasonal Sunday and holiday road closures could go up early
this year to make space for pedestrians and cyclists struggling to keep
their distance as Winnipeggers head outdoors amid the COVID-19 crisis.
A spokesman for the City of Winnipeg said Monday that officials are
considering whether to provide pedestrians access to roadways and enhanced
active transportation routes as physical distancing becomes a challenge on
sidewalks in some communities.
“There’s just no way possible in areas where there is density on beautiful
days that we can maintain the physical distance,” Coun. Janice Lukes
(Waverley West) said. “We didn’t have a wicked winter, but we want to get
outside, the sun is shining, the snow is melting.”
Lukes says she’s formally asked the mayor’s office and the city’s interim
chief administrative officer to implement road or lane closures for people
to get outside and maintain the two metres of distance between individuals
recommended by public health officials.
“We’ve got thousands and thousands of kilometres of roadway in the city,
the traffic volumes are down: take to the streets, take to the residential
roads,” she said.
The city did not accommodate a request for an interview Monday but said in
an email that more information on road closures and pedestrian access will
be released this week.
City owned playgrounds, recreation centres and picnic shelters have been
closed as part of the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but parks
remain open at this time. On Friday, Mayor Brian Bowman said city officials
are reviewing what outdoor recreation options can be made available to the
“We’re trying collectively as governments to ensure that while we’re
telling people to get outside and social distance, we’re not shrinking the
available public spaces that they can spread out,” he said.
Over the weekend, the City of Calgary closed vehicular lanes alongside
popular pedestrian corridors to traffic in anticipation of people heading
outdoors to take advantage of warm weather. The locations of the temporary
closures were not promoted to avoid crowds of people congregating at select
Each May, the city restricts through-traffic on four roads on Sunday and
holidays and give cyclists priority. The restrictions are in place for
Lyndale Drive, Wolseley Avenue, Scotia Street and Wellington Crescent from
Academy Road to Guelph Street.
“We’ve already got a framework, let’s put it in play seven days a week for
now,” Lukes said. “The thing is, people are going to go outside whether you
want them to or not. So we need to make it safe for them and we need to
reinforce social distancing.”
Winnipeg Trails executive director Anders Swanson said enhancing the city’s
overall active transportation network throughout the duration of the
COVID-19 response will be critical to ensure the safe movement of people
across the city.
“If you have to take half the people off the bus to maintain physical
distancing for the next however many months, we’re going to need some sort
of system,” Swanson said.
“We’ve been calling for this for decades, but this is a life changing
moment,” Swanson said. “The space is there and it would be not just
impractical to not rededicate that space to people so that they can move,
but it would be rude to not do that now.”
Separated and dedicated lanes for pedestrians and cyclists, addressing
“mode gaps,” and speed limit changes should all be considered as quickly as
possible, he said.
“The simplest message is to stay home if you can,” Swanson said. “We’re not
trying to say the most important thing is for everyone to go out for a jog.
“But what we’re voicing is the concern that when you make rules to
recognize walking and cycling is very competitive with a transit trip, if
necessary, given the right infrastructure,” he said.
Apologies for the late notice, but there is a conference with some terrific
speakers happening today from 1-6pm Central European time. Organized
pre-pandemic, its perfect timing for a virtual conference on a topic that
offers a rare glimmer of hope.
You can see the program here (skip to section 3 for the urbanism/transport
You can register here, free, to enter the virtual conference:
Or check out the a live stream:
As I send this, Marco te Brömmelstroet (fietsprofessor and head of the
urban cycling institute at the University of Amsterdam) is talking about
the language of mobility.
Again, apologies for the short notice. Enjoy!
UK transport minister says it's time to reduce car - driving...How do we get Canada/ manitoba | Winnipeg leadership to adopt this direction sooner rather than later?Climate change: 'Gob-smacking' vision for future UK transport - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-52064509* Disclaimer *The BBC is not responsible for the content of this email, and anything written in this email does not necessarily reflect the BBC's views or opinions. Please note that neither the email address nor name of the sender have been verified.Sent from my phone.
The CROW 'Design Manual for Bicycle Traffic' is widely regarded by experts
as the best bikeway engineering guide in the world. In the coming weeks,
the Urban Cycling Institute will offer a series of free webinars, each
focused on one chapter of the book.
*VOTES YES ON U-PASS *
THE University of Manitoba Students’ Union says Winnipeg Transit’s U-Pass
program will continue at the school.
The UMSU board of directors has voted in favour to “save” the U-Pass
program, at an increased rate of $200/full-time student per term, up from
$136.25/term — a hike the City of Winnipeg said is needed to cover costs.
Coronavirus is reshaping the way we get around cities
The rising need for social distancing has been changing how we get around
cities – and whether we get around at all.
Right now, schools and some businesses are closed and more people are
working from home to try to slow the COVID-19 outbreak. That means less
traffic and fewer people taking transit.
“There’s a huge reduction in traffic and urban personal travel,” says
Lawrence Frank, a professor of public health at the University of British
In some places, the need to keep space between us is leading to a push, at
least temporarily, for more active ways to get around.
*Bogota, for instance, added 76 kilometres of temporary bike lanes to its
550-km bike network.*
*“They took some of their transit lanes and gave them to cyclists – this is
a smart idea and their weather allows it,” says Ahmed El-Geneidy, a
professor at McGill University’s School of Public Planning. “When you
cycle, you’re distanced from other people.”*
*If the crisis continues for a longer period of time, El-Geneidy says he
expects Canadian cities, including Toronto and Montreal, to look into
temporarily adding more bike lanes.*
“If you’re not sick, you can take a walk around the block – you can take a
bicycle ride as long as you’re staying away from people,” El-Geneidy says.
“I’m not an expert in public health, but if we have congestion on cycling
routes, then it’s useless.”
But what happens after all this is finally over and we don’t need to keep
two metres away from each other?
“It will change something – what it will change, I don’t know for sure,”
El-Geneidy says. “It can be a good time now to try biking and walking, and
maybe in some places, we could see a return to more corner stores that
people can walk to because people don’t want to take their cars or transit.”
Although, it’s also possible that the roads could be more crowded, at least
temporarily, with individual vehicles than ever because some people will be
spooked off public transit.
“Transit is not bad – we cannot allow this to be used to say that we
shouldn’t be taking collective forms of transportation,” UBC’s Frank says.
“That’s ridiculous. This is a short, unprecedented situation and we had
time to react in advance.”
REDUCTION IN POLLUTION?
In China and Italy
side-effect of people staying home because of COVID-19 is a drastic
reduction in air pollution, Frank says.
According to the most recent Global Burden of Disease study, an estimated
3.4 million people worldwide died prematurely because of outdoor air
pollution in 2017. During the lockdown, Frank expects China and Italy to
see a drop in deaths from chronic diseases that are caused or worsened by
“This shows us that how we get around has a dramatic effect on pollution,”
Frank says. “We’re monitoring COVID-19 and it’s terrifying, but at the same
time, it might be that more lives were saved because of the reduction in
vehicle use and air pollution.”
When these temporary restrictions end, this could be used as an opportunity
for governments to change how we get around cities. They could invest more
in transit, electrification and active transportation, including cycling ,
e-scooters and e-bikes, Frank says.
That would mean more urban density instead of increasing sprawl out to the
suburbs, Frank says. People who get around by walking or cycling instead of
solely in vehicles are, generally. healthier overall.
“You want to design a transportation system and lay out your cities so that
there’s less vulnerability should something like this happen again,” Frank
says. “We’d have to think past a contagious epidemic and make cities more
conducive to biking and walking. It could have an incredible impact on
Caution: This message was sent from outside the University of Manitoba.
The Unicycle Guy relishes being the most noticeable commuter on the road
‘A WEIRD KIND OF FAMOUS’
EACH morning, to get to work, most of the city climbs into sedans or
minivans, a fair number sit on the bus, some bike, others who live close
enough to do so walk — every trip moves along with the flow of traffic, and
every commuter somewhat disappears into the thrum of urban movement.
Not Daniel Voth.
For one thing, he’s deceptively gangly, standing six-foot-three, often
towering over the people he meets. And then, there’s that thing he’s
sitting on to get to work every winter morning: a 36-inch high unicycle,
decked out in neon green decals, in case you weren’t already staring. He
wants you to stare. He dares you to smile. He loves your attention.
“I call myself Dan, but people can call me the Unicycle Guy,” he says. So
The Unicycle Guy lives in an apartment on Garry Street, with his cat Jam
Jams and five unicycles, a collection he’s been accruing for nearly three
years. Every morning, around 8 a.m., he descends, wheel in the air, passing
tenants who know him if not by name, then by his mode of transport.
He started riding a unicycle three years ago, when he saw a man riding one
along the Assiniboine Park walking bridge. The Unicycle Guy, who was then
strictly a Car Man, was intrigued. The next day, he called every bike shop
in the city, and bought the cheapest ’cycle he could find.
His mother, Debbie-Lee Olfert, is no unicyclist herself — she says she can
barely ride a bike. But she was not surprised to find out her son was
picking up such a peculiar talent. “He is the most quirky person you’re
going to meet,” she says.
“And as the mother of grown-ass men, you stop telling them what to do and
hope they make choices that aren't illegal, immoral, or life-threatening,”
she says. “I say have fun, be safe, be smart.”
At the time a Charleswood resident, the Unicycle Guy was determined to
learn. He wouldn’t stop practising that first day until he could reach the
bottom of the driveway without bailing, and soon enough, he could.
“The origin to my interest is that riding a unicycle has always seemed like
an impossible task, and I always liked the idea of doing something often
perceived as undoable,” he says before a commute one March morning. “I
always describe this as the easiest thing to learn that looks the hardest
The Unicycle Guy isn’t wrong: from a distance, and up close, it seems like
every moment not spent falling is a miracle, but ultimately, the pursuit of
one-wheeled balance is one grounded in patience and trust. When talking
about the unicycle, the Unicycle Guy takes on a somewhat spiritual tone: if
you will it, you can ride.
Soon after he got down the driveway, he aimed higher, and further: he
wanted to ride to work. So, last summer, he sold his rattly car, forwent
his $100 per month parking expenses, and rode away. The commute was 20
minutes by car, and though Google Maps doesn’t have a unicycle option, it
took about an hour from Point A to Point B, an office on Market Avenue. In
the summer, the ride was smooth, if not slightly scary.
The unicycle shared lanes with its two- and four-wheeled brethren
harmoniously, aside from a few heckles from the seatbelted population. Some
passersby rolled down their windows to sing circus music — da da dada dada
da da dada. The Unicycle Guy was unperturbed. In fact, he was delighted.
He started riding his unicycle in even more unconventional ways. To the
arena, he lugged his hockey bag. While eating sushi with chopsticks, he
pedaled around. Jam Jams has joined him for a ride here and there.
“I’m trying to stick out like a sore thumb, because I think the image is
funny,” he says. “The looks I’ve gotten — I get a kick out of it.”
Later in the year, he moved to Garry Street, where his daily commute
shortened to 15 minutes, but the amount of recognition he’s received
expanded ten-fold. A woman waiting with her children for the school bus
says her kids look forward to seeing him every day. A bus driver on
Waterfront Drive waves to him daily.
On Broadway, one woman says she’s begun to text friends whenever she sees
him roll by. “My friends in the Exchange speak of a unicycle guy,” she
says. “He’s sort of a weird kind of famous.”
His route shifts, but on this day, he darts across Main, and at the Via
Rail station, makes a sharp left turn. As cars sit and wait, jammed bumper
to bumper to bumper, the Unicycle Guy floats above it, zooming past a
stationary Kia Soul and an idling Volkswagen Golf at nearly 20 kilometres
Soon, he arrives at work, storing his wheel at his desk.
This summer, he plans to ride to Kenora on his unicycle to raise money for
charities of his choosing; he’s starting to figure out which now. Upon
hearing those plans, his mom was once again unsurprised.
“It’s such an absurd thing, but if it’s what he wants to do, I am not going
to talk him out of it,” she says, adding that she’s proud he’s cut down his
carbon footprint. As for riding to work in the winter, “All the power to
him,” she laughs.
“I always tell people, if I die or get hurt on the way to Kenora, I accept
it,” the Unicycle Guy says, taking a serious turn. “But if I’m not doing
the things that I enjoy in life, then what am I doing?”
“I could just stay at home all day every day and not go out into the world,
but if something’s going to happen, something is going to happen doing what
I love,” he says.
“I don’t walk anywhere unless I have to.”