City administration and the North Saskatoon Business Association (NSBA) are arguing over how often downtown bike lanes are being used.
Meanwhile, city council is set to decide on whether to keep the lanes until June.
The city’s transportation committee voted 5-1 Monday to send the extended bike lane project for a vote at council’s next full meeting on Nov. 20.
The move came despite objections from the NSBA and unfavourable polling results. Ward 5 Coun. Randy Donauer was the only vote against.
According to the city’s data, the number of bicycles travelling along the protected bike lanes has increased significantly since they were put in place in 2015 and 2016.
During the spring, summer and early fall, for example, the city estimated between 200-250 bikes used the 4th Avenue lane.
However, the NSBA set up cameras along the 4th Avenue route and recorded less than half that number over a 12-hour period.
“The pilot project has been a failure,” NSBA director Keith Moen said. “We would question the usage versus cost to the taxpayer.”
Moen noted the organization is in favour of a bike lane system in Saskatoon, but it was time to “go back to the drawing board” with the 4th Avenue corridor.
Ward 4 Coun. Troy Davies told Gormley Tuesday morning the data is showing the bike lanes aren’t working, and it’s time to end the project.
He pointed to the city’s latest survey on the lanes, which show a 66 per cent negative response rate.
“It’s clear,” he said. “The numbers don’t lie. People don’t want them on 4th Avenue.”
Davies also commented on the timing of the council proposal, saying voting in November means the lanes likely wouldn’t be removed until spring in any case.
“I guess shame on me for not pushing administration to get this to us in September,” he said.
During the meeting, the transportation committee also heard from Saskatoon Cycles.
The organization’s co-chair, Cathy Watts, told councillors the two lanes should be the beginning of a more expanded network.
“Two little bike lanes that hardly connect to anything isn’t going to convince people who feel vulnerable to get on their bike,” she said.
She added Saskatoon was falling behind other cities, such as Calgary and Edmonton, when it comes to active transportation networks due to “conservative and parochial thinking.”
Mayor Charlie Clark spoke in support of continuing the pilot project, noting the concerns drivers have over visibility were around when the bike lanes were unprotected and between parking stalls and the road.
“I don’t believe the sky has fallen over these bike lanes,” he said.
Council will hold a final vote on whether to extend the pilot project until June during their Nov. 20 meeting.