Osborne Bridge rehabilitation and bike lanes / by Greg Gallinger

Osborne Bridge Approved Roadview lg

As many of you already know the Osborne Bridge is approximately halfway in to a rehabilitation project. The plans illustrate wider sidewalks, three Southbound lanes, two Northbound lanes, and bike lanes going both directions. When complete the City boasts that:

A team of artists was hired to work side-by-side with the engineers and landscape architects on the design team to provide a bridge that truly fits with the two very distinct neighbourhoods on the north and south side of the Assiniboine River. Special handrails with accent lighting together with a patterned sidewalk on the bridge will celebrate local neighbourhood history, locations, events, and other local heritage elements.

The plans do not however make mention of how the new design will accommodate cyclists, other than the included illustration of painted on bicycle lanes.

Personally I'm skeptical that the new design will make travel across the bridge any safer for cyclists. Painted on bike lanes can easily be ignored, and do not offer any real protection from motorists, particularly when we already have diamond lanes for buses and cyclists that are often abused by impatient motorists who are unwilling to wait in rush hour traffic.

I would have liked to see dedicated bike lanes, preferably on the same side of the barrier as the sidewalks to create a real division between faster traffic.

It seems to me as though Winnipeg squandered an opportunity to present a new generation of bike lanes and set the standard for other areas. As it stands there is a lack of consistency in bike lane design across the City. Even in the Downtown core there are multiple bike lanes. Assiniboine Ave. has it's dedicated bike path, Fort and Garry St. have painted bike lanes, and Portage / Broadway have no accommodations for cyclists at all.

Cities designed to be relevant in the future must start designing infrastructure with equal consideration for all types of traffic and stop treating pedestrians and cyclists as an afterthought.