Moncton plans to fix what city staff called a "no man's land" in the city's west end for cyclists and pedestrians as part of an expanded active transportation network next year.
"We've just completed the connection from the new bridge to Riverview, and once the cyclist gets off that trail there's kind of bit of a no man's land before you reach Milner or the Riverfront Trail," René Lagacé, Moncton's director of engineering, said during a recent budget meeting.
"We want to build that connection."
Lagacé made the comment while outlining how the city plans to spend $1 million on active transportation projects next year.
The city recently finished a link from the Brenda Robertson Bridge to its trail system, but city staff say further improvements to connect it to the city's west end are planned in 2024. (Shane Magee/CBC)
Details released so far indicate the 2024 plans will focus on shared-use pathways instead of more on-street physically separated bike lanes.
The first two physically separated bike lanes were installed this year using concrete curbs or plastic bollards that need to be removed for the winter.
They were welcomed by active cycling advocates but led to numerous social media posts questioning their value.
A bike lane on Killam Drive in Moncton with bollards. (Pierre Fournier/CBC)
The city's active transportation plan adopted by council in 2022 calls for the shared-use paths, which replace sidewalks, to be at least three metres wide.
The paths planned next year include:
The west side of Horsman Road in the north end from Ryan Street to Berry Mills Road.
The west side of Grand Trunk Street from Millennium Boulevard to the Northwest trail connection.
The west side of Milner Road in the west end from Brookside Drive to Main Street.
They may not be the only projects, however.
Isabelle LeBlanc, a spokesperson for the city, said there are other plans in the works that could include installation of more bollards, lane markings and other measures on different streets, but the plans aren't finalized yet.
During the city's budget talks, Coun. Charles Léger questioned the city's planning when it does roadwork.
"I think we've had some missed opportunities, for example, where we reconstruct the street and what we simply do is we rebuild the sidewalk and the sidewalk really could instead have been completely redone with a shared pedestrian bike, maybe even asphalt lane," Léger said.
Léger said it's particularly important to provide connectivity around schools.
Moncton's active transit plan includes recommendations for new infrastructure across the city. Brown dashes mark proposed physically separated bike lanes, orange dashes mark neighbhourhood bikeways, blue dashes show painted bike lanes, lime green shows new paths, red dashes show separated grade crossings and pink show conceptual routes. (City of Moncton)
Lagacé told Léger that the city's active transportation plan is specific about where to build separated bike lanes, multi-use paths and other cycling infrastructure.
"So I think and so it's important to follow the plan because if we are, for instance, investing in bike lanes or separate bike lanes in an area that's not required by the … plan, it'll be tough for us to get to the vision of the plan and put the infrastructure where it's really required," Lagacé said.
Lagacé mentioned the multi-use paths planned next year, but said it's not always possible to replace a sidewalk with a wider shared path.
He said the wider paths could mean relocating utility poles or buying land.