Community divided over Wellington Crescent enhanced bike lanes

WINNIPEG — Changes to cycling and pedestrian access along the Wellington Crescent open street could be on the way after complaints from residents to city hall.

But not all of the community members want to see the hours reduced.

Owen Preston lives on Wellington Crescent, and he and his family have been taking full advantage of the enhanced summer cycling route.

“The kids, we take them for bike rides almost every day. It really just helps get them out instead of being cooped up inside every day. It’s brought a real sense of safety to the neighbourhoods too,” said Preston.

The City of Winnipeg picked 13 routes, including Wellington Crescent, for its open streets program to help people stay active during COVID-19.

From April to November, the routes restrict vehicle travel to one block, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday to Sunday, in effort to provide more room for cyclists.

“The restrictions of having to only drive one block is not an issue at all for us.”

But not all the residents in the Wellington Crescent area feel the same.

City Councillor for River Heights and Fort Garry, John Orlikow put forward a motion to change times and dates that people could access the enhanced bike routes, after hearing complaints from residents that 14-hour daily restrictions were creating traffic concerns.

Wellington Crescent resident, Marco Essig said the city surveyed residents in the area last year to see if they were in favour of reduced traffic along Wellington.

“More than 80 per cent of the residents on the street were actually in favour of having the street closed,” said Essig. “Of course you always have a minority, but the people that voiced their concerns, some of them are not even residents on this street.”

On June 16, a city hall committee voted six to one in favour of reducing bike route hours along Wellington Crescent in September as opposed to November.

Councillor Scott Gillingham was one of the votes in favour, he said the motion was a compromise intended to please all parties.

“Councillor Orlikow is really aware of his community, what the needs are in his community, and I think he’s done a really good job of trying to come up with a middle ground here and I’m happy to support that.”

The proposed changes to the enhanced bike route along Wellington will go to city council for a final vote Thursday, June 24.

A petition to keep daily traffic out of Wellington is circulating, and residents are planning to speak in favour of the bike routes at the upcoming meeting.

Preston said he would like to see the enhanced bike routes continue even after the pandemic.

“The benefits we’ve seen so far with the increased sense of safety and community has been amazing,” said Preston.

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