The City of Winnipeg is hosting pop-up events to engage members of the public as stakeholders for the planning of their pedestrian and cyclist corridors.
On Friday, Feb. 10, three Exchange District businesses and Red River College opened their doors to discuss one of the projects – the West Alexander to East Exchange corridor.
This corridor’s preliminary plans hope to establish a connecting bike route down Bannatyne Avenue and McDermot Avenue from Waterfront Drive to Sherbrook Street through the east part of the Exchange District.
“Our consulting team (has been) really looking for face-to-face dialogue to really engage the public,” Scott Suderman, transportation facilities planning engineer for the City of Winnipeg, says. “We’re starting to build a relationship, bring awareness to the project.”
The events included a partial mock-up of a protected bike lane, which will be situated on Bannatyne Avenue between King Street and Princess Street, and facilitators who answered questions about the project both within the businesses and outside to explain the mock- bike lane set up.
“What’s important to (community members) is important for us to feed into the design as we get off to commence the study,” Suderman says. “The public input is how we weight making various decisions in weighing the options of a project … that feeds into development of options and comparing the options.”
Suderman says they hope to gain input on retrofitting and upgrading the bike lanes in the East Exchange, engaging on issues such as loading zones, parking issues and garbage and recycling collection as well as bike routes and connectivity.
Brothers Michael and Matthew Veith made it out to the pop-up event. Both are all-season cyclists.
“They did well to engage people who showed up and had a great system which people could register feedback and ideas,” Matthew says. “I was glad to find that it wasn’t just ‘message received.’ They were jumping in and prompting us to elaborate further on our ideas or questions.”
“It was cool to see something physical and tangible, from the mock-up map to the section of Bannatyne being divided to show how big a bike lane would be,” Michael says. “It was really cool how we were able to post little stickers onto the mock-up map, giving me a tangible reminder that I was part of the larger conversation regarding active transportation in Winnipeg.”
Bret Zahari is part owner of Bronuts, a business that hosted the first pop-up event.
“The priority to look at how much infrastructure cost is spent on cycling is something that (us) as business owners and our business as well aligns well with … so when the opportunity came up, it kind of aligned with what we were hoping for,” Zahari says.
Zahari believes that tapping into the niche of patrons connects those individuals to larger city projects.
“Whether that’s walking, cycling, car-pooling or using the bus we’d like for people to know that we value alternative transportation,” Zahari says. “I’m glad that (the City) is finally looking at stakeholders and the user's perspective for the services that they’re providing. I think that’s long overdue but I think that is a good step.”
Published in Volume 71, Number 20 of The Uniter (February 16, 2017)