City eyes imposing speed limits on active transportation paths
THE City of Winnipeg will study the idea of imposing speed limits for
electronic bikes and scooters.
On Thursday evening, Winnipeg city council approved a call to have city
staff study the potential new restriction, which could affect all motorized
devices used on active transportation pathways. Traditional bicycles will
Coun. Janice Lukes said it’s great to see a hike in the number of people
relying on active transportation. However, she said concerns about unsafe
speeds of travel are triggering complaints and raising a need to consider
“We’ve got people calling (about) getting hit (while) standing in the
(path) and a dog’s leash got caught up in an e-bike… There are scenarios
that are unfolding that are requiring us to look to see what other cities
are doing that have addressed this issue,” the public works chairwoman said
during the meeting.
She noted Calgary has already imposed such a speed limit. The Alberta city
requires all pathway users, including those riding manual bikes, to travel
at or below posted speed limits. The maximum speed is typically set at 20
km/h, the City of Calgary’s website notes.
The decision comes amid criticism an active transportation speed limit
could prove difficult to enforce.
Prior to ordering the report, the majority of Winnipeg council members
opted to remove traditional bicycles from the potential speed limit.
Coun. Matt Allard, who moved that amendment, told council members he feared
including manual transportation could prove complicated.
“I do believe that some of these (electronic) devices, particularly those
that have been modified from the original manufacturer’s specifications,
may achieve speeds that are significant. I would hope that we would not
move in the direction of establishing maximum speeds for (traditional)
bicycles because that would… likely mean installation of speedometers on
bicycles and all sorts of issues with enforcement,” said Allard.
Coun. Ross Eadie, who said he was once struck by a manual bicycle many
years ago, voted against removing traditional bikes from the potential
speed limit, suggesting all active transportation options should be limited
to a maximum speed of 30 km/h.
“If somebody gets hit by a bike moving really fast, believe me, it hurts…
The older you get, the worse the injuries are,” said Eadie.
Manitoba’s Highway Traffic Act already sets a restriction of 32 km/h for
“power-assisted” bicycles with motors of up to 500 watts.
Coun. Shawn Dobson, who raised the speed limit motion, argues an even lower
cap is needed.
“Thirty-two (km/h) on an active transportation path is way too fast.
Probably anywhere from 10 (km/h) to 20 (km/h) would be reasonable,” Dobson
said in an interview Friday.
Dobson said he supported the call to remove traditional bikes from the
speed limit to avoid holding up the report, but believes the option could
be revisited in the future.
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CITY TO CONSIDER
NEW BIKE REGISTRY
WINNIPEG could soon endorse a new bike registry in hopes of reuniting more
stolen cycles with their owners.
A new public service report calls for the city to urge citizens to register
their bikes with 529 Garage, a free, cloud-based system that would replace
an internal city-run bike registry that has a $7.35 registration fee.
Council would also consider providing about $50,000 in each of the next
four years to implement a new registration and theft-prevention program. The
city sought new bike registration options in June, noting up to 2,000
bicycles are reported stolen in Winnipeg each year; about 1,000
are recovered but less than 10 per cent are successfully returned to their
If council approves, the new registry would share data with hundreds of
police agencies and Winnipeg civic officials to help get more bikes
(Adding to Dave Elmore's earlier message)
*City seeks feedback on speed-limit reductions*
THE City of Winnipeg is seeking feedback from residents in select
neighbourhoods where speed limits have been reduced for several months.
The city announced Wednesday it is entering the second phase of its
reduced-speed neighbourhood pilot, in which speed limits in the Bourkevale
and Tyndall Park neighbourhoods were reduced to 30 km/h, and limits in
Worthington and Richmond West were reduced to 40 km/h per hour.
“The pilot will tell us if changing the speed limit changes how fast
vehicles actually travel, and if lowering the speed limit within a
residential area affects neighbourhood livability,” the city said in a news
The city has created separate surveys to assess the effectiveness of the
program — one for residents living within the reduced speed limit areas,
and another for the rest of Winnipeg residents.
“Survey responses will help us understand both pilot area residents’
experience with the speed limit change and broader perspectives on speed
limits in general,” the city said.
In addition to the surveys, the city released the findings of a public
engagement survey conducted in the program’s first phase before the limits
were reduced. Sixty per cent of respondents felt residential speed limits
should not be changed, while 40 per cent agreed with lowering them.
The city is organizing a series of forums to be held early next year in
which residents will be able to discuss the program. The first forum will
take place at the Bourkevale Community Centre on Jan. 29 at 4:30 p.m.
Further discussions will continue in each respective neighbourhood between
Jan. 30 and Feb. 1.
The survey is available online
on the City of Winnipeg website, along with a list of forum dates and
*Cities must adapt to new bike tech*
IT’S a bike, it’s a car, it’s something in between.
If you spent any time travelling around Winnipeg this summer, you probably
noticed some new vehicles whizzing around the city’s roadways and active
Electric bicycles and scooters have accelerated into common use recently
with riders of all stripes jumping on the bandwagon. The battery-powered
vessels have seen a surge in popularity thanks to their environmental
advantages, accessibility and fun factor. But their presence isn’t beloved
Last week, the city’s public works committee agreed to commission a report
on the viability of establishing speed limits on active transportation
paths for bikes, e-bikes, scooters and other devices. The motion, raised by
Coun. Shawn Dobson last month, argues speed restrictions are necessary to
protect all path users from collisions. The department has 300 days to
As in other jurisdictions, the issue is proving to be a contentious one,
with some Winnipeggers expressing safety concerns about mingling with the
speedy personal vehicles on pathways and others raising questions about the
effectiveness of speed limit enforcement.
All are valid viewpoints, which is why the city needs to take an holistic
approach to regulations.
With every new form of transportation technology, governments have had to
grapple with their application on roadways. When horses and buggies were
the norm, they were barred from being “driven at a gallop” on New York
streets or risked incurring a hefty fine. Alberta introduced its first
speed limits in 1906, capping automobile travel at 32 and 16 km/h on
highways and within city limits, respectively.
Road safety has improved as speed limits have increased thanks to a
combination of regulation, enforcement, infrastructure and public
education. The city must acknowledge each of these factors when drawing up
new rules around e-bikes and scooters.
Doing too little will create undue tension between users on active
transportation routes. Doing too much will impede e-bike and scooter use,
which has the potential to take vehicles off the road and reduce carbon
Speed limits are a good starting point, but they need to come with
cost-effective enforcement strategies. In the absence of a fleet of bicycle
bylaw officers, signage and public education campaigns can encourage
Currently, Manitoba’s Highway Traffic Act restricts “power-assisted”
bicycles to speeds of 32 km/h with an electric motor of up to 500 watts.
That’s faster than vehicles are allowed to travel in school zones — a
regulation designed to protect young pedestrians from death or injury.
In Calgary, most active transportation routes have a maximum speed limit of
20 km/h for all path users. The bylaw also requires users to use a bell or
vocal signal when passing others and denotes which vehicles are allowed on
which pathways. Fines range between $100 and $400. The rules are clearcut
and fair, while setting a standard for decorum on shared roadways.
The latter is likely more important for e-rider and pedestrian safety than
speed limits. Recent studies from Europe and the United States found that
while e-bike users suffer higher rates of more severe injuries than
traditional cyclists, rider behaviour and user error were the main culprits
of collisions, followed by road conditions, such as speed limits.
E-bikes and scooters are not a passing trend. While city councillors are
busy mulling speed limits, they should also be thinking about how these
increasingly popular modes of transportation will fit into future
infrastructure and active transportation developments. Giving residents
many different options to get where they need to go offers a direct path to
improving Winnipeg’s livability.
Speed limit proposed for bike paths
A WINNIPEG councillor’s bid to create a speed limit for bicycles, electric
bikes and scooters on active- transportation pathways is raising questions
of whether such a restriction would be adequately enforced.
Coun. Shawn Dobson argued a speed limit is necessary for the safety for all
“I’m trying to be proactive on our pathways because we have a number of
bicycles, e-bikes, etc., that are going too fast,” the St. James councillor
said Thursday. “I could see this getting much worse.”
The potential for collisions increases with speed, he said, noting the
growing use of e-bikes and scooters.
A motion raised by Dobson at city council’s Sept. 29 meeting asks city
staff to study the matter and report back. The motion was referred to the
public works committee’s Oct. 10 meeting for consideration.
“I just thought it made sense. We can’t turn them into raceways,” he said.
Dobson wants staff to look at what other cities are doing. Calgary has a
speed limit of 20 km/h for its paths and sidewalks. Fines range between
$100 and $400.
Dobson’s motion doesn’t recommend a specific speed limit or fine for
“It could be 10, 20 km/h,” he said.
The limit would apply to bikes, e-bikes, scooters and other devices,
according to the motion, which states many Winnipeggers are afraid to use
pathways because they fear being in a collision.
Manitoba’s Highway Traffic Act sets a restriction of 32 km/h when
power-assisted bicycles are using an electric motor of up to 500 watts. The
minimum driving age is 14. Helmets are required.
Only bicycles with a rear wheel diameter of 410 millimetres or less are
allowed on sidewalks.
Enforcement of a city-imposed speed limit on pathways could be an issue,
according to some cyclists and e-bike users, as well as public works chair
Coun. Janice Lukes.
“The police have more important things to do,” said Jeff Bowes, manager of
retailer EBike Winnipeg. He thinks a speed limit is a good idea.
Bike Winnipeg executive director Mark Cohoe said a speed restriction
shouldn’t be viewed as the only solution for matters such as safety.
“It’s something we have to consider, but we have to consider carefully,” he
“We have to look for solutions that are going to work for us and be
enforceable and manageable and fair.”
He would like cities to consider ways to integrate e-bikes into current and
future active-transportation networks. The bikes exploded in popularity
when many of Winnipeg’s paths were already in place or designed.
Bowes agreed Winnipeg must be more bike-friendly. He and Cohoe said a
majority of people who would be affected by a speed limit ride responsibly.
Ian Walker, an e-bike user and spokesman for Safe Speeds Winnipeg, believes
the increase in electric bicycles, coupled with limited space on paths, is
leading to more complaints about speed.
There is a need for wider and more pathways, he said.
“Our paths are small. There is not a lot of space for passing, which is a
problem,” said Walker.
He encouraged people to slow down when passing.
Lukes, who supports a speed limit on paths, recently discussed e-bikes with
police after some residents contacted her with questions.
“It is definitely time to take a look at this and make a decision on what
we’re going to do,” the deputy mayor said.
Whatever the city chooses to do, it must not discourage people from using
bicycles or e-bikes, she said.
Lukes believes an effective education campaign would encourage a large
majority of people to comply with a speed limit.
“I think, sometimes, things can self-enforce,” she said.
Safe Speeds Winnipeg has lobbied city council to reduce the speed limit for
vehicles to 30 km/h on all residential streets. Doing so would reduce the
risk of fatal or serious injury collisions, while encouraging more cyclists
or e-bike riders to use the roads, it argues.
That proposal should be a higher priority for council than speed
restrictions on paths, Walker said.
Dobson does not support lowering the speed limit for all residential
“There’s no way people would follow that,” he said.
Last March, the city turned four streets into 30- or 40-km/h zones as part
of a pilot project.
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VEHICLE traffic may lose access to a key section of Assiniboine Avenue if a
proposed pilot project to enhance the area for pedestrians is approved.
On Oct. 10, council’s public works committee will consider a call to order
a report on a pedestrian-prioritized pilot project that would close
Assiniboine Avenue to vehicle traffic between Fort and Main streets.
Coun. Janice Lukes, chairwoman of public works, said shutting down vehicle
access at this stretch of Assiniboine Avenue would improve safety for
cyclists and pedestrians.
“Vehicles would not have a right or left turn onto Assiniboine Avenue (from
Main Street), basically closing Assiniboine Avenue,” said Lukes.
A pilot project could help determine how best to use the space and to study
its impact on traffic and safety. Lukes suggested the area could include
more green space and/or a plaza in the future.
The motion also calls for options to eliminate the right turn lane at River
Avenue and Osborne Street and consider adding a pedestrian scramble in that
area. At a pedestrian scramble, all vehicle traffic has a red light at the
same time in order to let pedestrians cross in all directions at once.
City spring cleanup crews to make on-road active-transportation routes a
Starting next spring, some Winnipeg active transportation routes will be
cleared of winter sand and grit before other roads, with the goal of making
them accessible sooner.
A new city staff report notes the city’s on-road active transportation
network will be prioritized for cleaning first in the spring. The
prioritized routes include bike paths, active transportation priority
routes, seasonal bike routes and neighbourhood greenways. (The city defines
neighbourhood greenways as on-street routes that typically use reduced
speeds and traffic-calming measures to safely move cyclists, pedestrians
The off-road network of sidewalks and pathways will continue to be cleared
based on the priority level of associated streets.
“It is anticipated that the on-road active transportation network can be
cleaned within two weeks (as opposed to the larger network’s five to six
weeks), providing a safer environment to users earlier in the season,”
Michael Cantor, city manager of streets maintenance, writes in the report.
An active transportation advocate welcomed the change Wednesday, suggesting
it will reduce the risk of injuries on routes where cyclists travel at
“What it means is that if you’re on your bike, there’s less risk that
you’re going to be crashing because there’s loose gravel out on the
roadway,” said Mark Cohoe, executive director of Bike Winnipeg.
Since Winnipeg tends to have lengthy, snowy winters that require the
repeated spreading of sand to improve traction, Bike Winnipeg has advocated
for the change in the past.
Cohoe said the on-road routes tend to collect more sand than other active
transportation ones, partly because nearby motor vehicle tires can push
excess debris into curbside spaces designated for bikes.
He would like the city to also prioritize spring cleanup for separated
sidewalks and paths, in order to encourage more people to use active
Coun. Janice Lukes, head of council’s public works committee, said she
would also like to see all active transportation routes prioritized for
spring cleanup, but considers this change an important first step.
“We’re starting with the roads for the vulnerable road user… It’s just to
try and get more people to use active transportation and to have it
presented to them (earlier in the year) and in a safe manner,” said Lukes.
Since the change mainly adjusts the schedule of existing spring cleanup
efforts, the city councillor said it’s not expected to cost more money.
Street sweeping typically starts in mid-April, weather permitting.