A cyclist crosses the Robert Campbell bridge in this 2017 file photo. The city hopes the priorities outlinedin the city’s new bicycle network plan will bring even more bikes to the road. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)

Whitehorse eyes better bike lanes

More cycling infrastructure will create more cyclists, says city

If you build it, they will come — that’s what Sabine Schweiger says about cycling infrastructure in the city of Whitehorse.

Schweiger, environmental coordinator with the city, told the News on May 28 the hope now is that the priorities outlined in the city’s new bicycle network plan will bring even more bikes to the road.

Schweiger presented the plan to council at the May 28 standing committees meeting.

Developed in 2017 in tandem with the downtown and Marwell plans, the bike plan brings together feedback from 238 online respondents, city staff, and members of the Whitehorse Urban Cycling Committee who worked with the city last June to identify gaps in significant downtown routes.

“It’s not a huge surprise,” Schweiger told the News of the routes riders have identified as key. “It really mirrors the commuter cycling map that’s been published for years with the city.”

Schweiger said the lack of an east-west corridor, from the escarpment to the water, was of concern, as was filling trail gaps between Two Mile Hill and the waterfront, and installing a cycle track coming out of Riverdale and on to Lowe Street downtown.

During the standing committees meeting, Whitehorse resident Jean Paul Molgat spoke to council about the plan, which he said he feels does a good job of addressing necessary changes to the city’s cycling landscape, but he asked council to consider prioritizing a trail leading from the Alaska Highway, along Hillcrest Drive, into Granger.

Molgat acknowledged that’s the neighbourhood he lives in, and gave his reasons for wanting to see focus on that link.

“That route is 1.2 km shorter than the existing Two Mile Hill route (to downtown) and probably a couple of kilometres shorter than the Hamilton extension route,” said Molgat. “It has virtually no intersections or traffic … as opposed to the Two Mile Hill route which has 13 intersections that cyclists need to deal with. And the (city’s bike) plan goes into quite some detail about all the fixes that are needed at those intersections.”

Among those fixes are protected traffic signals and pavement markings where multi-use trails cross intersections, especially those at Two Mile Hill and Hamilton Boulevard.

When Coun. Samson Hartland asked Schweiger if she had prioritized the recommended projects, she highlighted those intersections, as well as improving links from Two Mile Hill (either by way of on-street lanes along Chilkoot Way, or via an easement behind the Canadian Tire) and Riverdale, as part of the process of improving existing infrastructure.

Anything beyond that, she said, would depend on road reconstruction. It’s cheaper and more efficient to make upgrades to cycling infrastructure when the roads are already being worked on for other reasons.

This might include working on streets to create fully separated bike paths. Options include protected on-street bike lanes, paved, off-street multi-use paths, bicycle boulevards or greenways, where bikes and vehicles share the road on side streets or bike paths.

“(Bike lanes) are not typically recommended anymore by the Transportation Association of Canada because they have too much conflict between cyclists and vehicles,” Schweiger said, noting there are still some in the city (for instance, on 4th Avenue) where there’s no space for alternatives.

“One of the things we really struggle with in the Yukon is that painted line,” Schweiger told the News, especially in the winter. “Even if it’s there under the snow, it’s not there.”

All of these measures, said Schweiger, will hopefully make people feel safer about cycling in the city, which should, in turn, get more people on bikes.

According to past statistics included in the plan, the number of residents who rely on cycling as their primary mode of transportation increased from two per cent in 2001 to 3.2 per cent in 2011. Right in the middle of that growth spurt was 2005, when the city installed its first on-street bike lanes.

Once the plan is brought to city council through the annual capital budget process, if adopted, Schweiger said it could be eligible for external funding.

Contact Amy Kenny at amy.kenny@yukon-news.com

bike lanesCyclingWhitehorse city council

Just Posted

Northwestel says it is investigating into the cause of the total communications blackout throughout the territory after a power failure in Whitehorse on Wednesday night.
Internet outage prompts criticism on Dempster fibre project delays

The Liberals responded that they have proceeded cautiously to avoid high costs.

A motorcycle with driver pulled over on the right side of the North Klondike Highway whose speed was locked in at 171 kilometres per hour. (Courtesy/Yukon RCMP)
Patrols of Yukon highways find poorly-secured loads, intoxicated drivers

The ongoing patrols which police call ‘Operation Cooridor’ is mainly focused on commercial vehicles.

Awaken Festival organizers Meredith Pritchard, Colin Wolf, Martin Nishikawa inside the Old Firehall in Whitehorse on May 11. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Performing arts fest plans to awaken artistic talent in Whitehorse and the rural North

‘A value of ours is to make theatre as accessible as possible.’

April Mikkelsen tosses a disc during a ladies only disc golf tournament at Solstice DiscGolfPark on May 8. John Tonin/Yukon News
Yukon sees its first-ever women’s disc golf tournament

The Professional Disc Golf Assocation had a global women’s event last weekend. In the Yukon, a women’s only tournament was held for the first time ever.

Dave Blottner, executive director at the Whitehorse Food Bank, said the food bank upped its services because of the pandemic. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Food Bank sees Yukoners’ generosity firsthand

“Businesses didn’t know if they could stay open but they were calling us to make sure we were able to stay open.”

More than 25,000 people have received the firsdt dose of the vaccine, according to the Yukon government. (Black Press file)
Yukon has now vaccinated 76 per cent of eligible adults

The territory has surpassed its goal of 75 per cent as a first step toward ‘herd immunity’

A prescribed burn is seen from the lookout at Range Road and Whistle Bend Way in Whitehorse May 12. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Editorial: Are you ready for a forest fire?

Citizens for a Firesmart Whitehorse have listed some steps for Yukoners to boost safety and awareness

Caribou pass through the Dempster Highway area in their annual migration. A recent decision by the privacy commissioner has recommended the release of some caribou collar re-location data. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News)
Privacy commissioner recommends release of caribou location data

Department of Environment says consultation with its partners needed before it will consider release

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Family pleased youth will be able to get Pfizer vaccine

Angela Drainville, mother of two, is anxious for a rollout plan to come forward

Safe at home office in Whitehorse on May 10, 2021. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Federal government provides $1.6 million for Yukon anti-homelessness work

Projects including five mobile homes for small communities received funding.

Drilling at Northern Tiger’s 3Ace gold project in 2011. Randi Newton argues that mining in the territory can be reshaped. (Yukon government/file)
Editorial: There’s momentum for mining reform

CPAWS’ Randi Newton argues that the territory’s mining legislations need a substantial overhaul

At its May 10 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved the subdivision for the Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s business park planned in Marwell. (Submitted)
KDFN business park subdivision approved

Will mean more commercial industrial land available in Whitehorse

Most Read