From: Canstar Community News (The Times)
Plan for bikeway Powers forward
By Avi Saper
April 30, 2009
Public input will be a key component of the citys plans to turn Powers Street into a bicycle boulevard by the end of the year, says Winnipegs active transportation czar.
Were making a significant change to their neighbourhood, said active transportation co-ordinator Kevin Nixon. They have to be onside with whatever we decide to do. They have to understand it, and they have to be in favour of it.
The North Winnipeg Commuter Cyclists, a group of bicycle activists that has been lobbying the city for two years to make Powers more bike-friendly, will be hosting a public meeting at Pritchard Park Community Centre beginning at 6:30 p.m. on May 14.
Residents will be asked at the meeting for their thoughts on how to discourage non-local vehicle traffic from using Powers all the way from Flora Avenue to Leila Avenue while encouraging cyclists and pedestrians.
That could mean reducing the number of four-way stops along Powers, installing traffic circles at intersections, narrowing certain sections of the road into chicanes and creating speed humps to slow down cars.
Theres a degree of guesswork right now on how all this is going to work, said NWCC member Nona Pelletier. We have an opportunity to do something fantastic here and really change the look of the North End.
Pelletier and her husband Greg Littlejohn, who is also a member of NWCC, said Powers is the ideal street for the project because plenty of pedestrians already walk on the road and cyclists use the route year-round.
The idea isnt that were going to eliminate cars entirely, Pelletier said. That isnt our intention. The idea is to keep the cars going at the same speed as the bikes.
Littlejohn said the eventual goal is to have a street that community members especially children can use on a regular basis to get anywhere they might need to go. In order for that to happen, the communitys safety concerns must be addressed, he said.
There isnt that much traffic now (on Powers), Littlejohn said. But it is a street where stolen vehicle are sometimes driven, and some people come down here to avoid the possibility of a breathalyzer.
The only comparable bike boulevard the city already has is Argue Street in Lord Roberts, which was created last year. Nixon says the city learned some valuable lessons on the importance of public consultation while working on that project, and will be making sure it hears from all residents by the end of June before proceeding on Powers.
Trying to determine where traffic will go instead of Powers is a key consideration, Nixon said, as well as how easily pedestrians and cyclists will be able to get from one end of the street to the other.
(This site has) a lot of good things going for it, he said. Theres a good crossing with a crosswalk at Selkirk, and Burrows and Inkster both have medians so youre only crossing one direction of traffic at a time.
Residents and city planners are sharing an enthusiasm that the project will soon be a reality.
Two years ago, the idea that Powers could be a bikeway didnt exist, Pelletier said.
Nixon, who has been working on active transportation since July 2007, said city council is making it easy for him to do his job.
Its an exciting time to have this job, he said. Theres a lot of political support for this right now.