Many people who participated in a lively and engaging community forum convened last week by Community News Commons and focused on how well our city is designed for pedestrians, were pleased to see that a proposal to make Winnipeg more bike and pedestrian friendly clear its first hurdle at City Hall.
Pedestrian and Cycling Action Plan, a $330-million 20-year idea to encourage active transportation, was passed unanimously by a Public Works and Infrastructure Committee on Tuesday morning.
City councillor Jenny Gerbasi said it’s about time Winnipeg caught up to other cities.
“It’s time for the culture in this city to change and recognize that people need to have a choice in their modes of transportation,” she said.
Gerbasi’s support was echoed by pedestrian and cycling advocates who attended the meeting at city hall and who participated in last week’s Community News Commons forum focused on this issue.
“What’s Our Walk-ability” was held Thursday evening at the Winnipeg Free Press Cafe and featured a panel comprised of Beth McKechnie of the Green Action Centre‘s Workplace Commuter Options program; Matt Carreau, City Organizer of Jane’s Walk Winnipeg (May 1 + 2); urban planning grad student, Robert Galston, a writer and blogger who focuses on urban planning, design and history; and Shelagh Graham, the Healthy Built Environment Specialist with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.
A series of short, medium and long term initiatives have been proposed through the city’s pedestrian and cycling strategy.
“The City needs a road map to prioritize active transportation infrastructure, programs, and policy to support a growing and dynamic city,” said Kevin Nixon, who is Winnipeg’s Active Transportation Coordinator.
“It is evident that providing safe, convenient, accessible and well maintained pedestrian and cycling infrastructure is important to most Winnipeggers,” he said.
The plan to add various bike lanes and walkways throughout the city highlights the need to improve connectivity of the bicycle and sidewalk network and to look at removing barriers to connectivity.
Providing more parking for bikes, facilities to encourage cyclists to bike to work, and improving the maintenance of the city’s sidewalks and bicycle networks, were also mentioned as part of the city’s strategy.
All this is to be funded by the city’s yearly budget process over the next 20 years. Funds for specific projects will be approved by council through the Pedestrian and Cycling Action Plan.
Committee chair Janice Lukes, a former bike advocate before coming to city hall, said the plan is a first step to be followed by consultations with Winnipeggers, which she said have already begun.
The plan now moves to Executive Policy Committee and if it is passed, will go to a final vote at city council.