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Cyclists and drivers in Regina are now testing out a new road-sharing plan on 14th Avenue in the city's Cathedral neighbourhood.
The City of Regina has installed advisory bike lanes on 14th Avenue.
Michael Williams, a transportation consultant who wasn't involved with the city's plan, explains that an advisory lane system involves a centre lane, with "advisory," or edge lanes, on either side.
"The centre lane is dedicated to, and shared by, motorists travelling in both directions," said Williams. Meanwhile, the advisory lanes are used by cyclists, and can be used briefly by motorized vehicles when they're facing oncoming traffic.
The idea is that when motor vehicles in the centre lane see they're heading toward each other, both move into their respective bike lanes, and then move back into the centre lane when it is safe to do so.
The City of Regina began testing out the system on 14th Avenue earlier this month.
The city was looking for "a lower-cost solution to install cycling infrastructure on low volume streets," Shanie Leugner, the City of Regina's manager of infrastructure engineering, told CBC in an interview Monday.
After doing best-practice reviews of similar projects in Canada and other parts of the world, the city learned more about advisory bike lanes and decided that 14th Avenue would be a great place to try it in Regina, said Leugner.
She also said driving on an advisory bike lane is very similar to how people already drive on local streets.
"This particular one is unusual. I have not personally encountered that type of bike lane that they are describing," said Geoff Ellis, president of Wascana Freewheelers recreational cycling club.
"I am curious to see how it works just as much as anybody."
The 14th Avenue advisory lane system is the first phase of the city's east-west crosstown bike route. The plan will be implemented in three phases, with others coming after the city decides how efficient the first phase is.
Ellis also said that while the new plan might require some adjustment for riders and motorists, it is important for the city to take feedback after the pilot run.
"It's probably going to require some adjustment from everybody. I gather it's a bit of an experiment," he said.
"I think the experimentation part will be important for everybody to try it and give feedback to say 'this works' or 'no, it does not work well with the average Saskatchewan driver,' or 'it's a little bit hazardous.'"
The advocacy group Bike Regina says the city has "has done their due diligence" in planning the new advisory lanes, and the group is looking forward to seeing the changes implemented.
"The location they've selected for this infrastructure has low vehicle counts and low speeds already.… With less than 1,000 vehicles per day (roughly 1.6 vehicles per minute in the afternoon peak) and speeds around 30 to 40 km/hr, the advisory lanes meet acceptable practices," a spokesperson for Bike Regina said.
"So approaching it purely scientifically, there appears to be nothing wrong with the numbers."
The City of Regina's Leugner says the lanes will be monitored over the remainder of 2021 and into 2022 before a decision is made whether or not to install more advisory bike lanes.