Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Decade of Cycling in Winnipeg

Sept. 2002: In one of the first local protests by leaderless cycle-activist group Critical Mass, Sunday cruise night traffic is snarled as about 75 cyclists block all lanes of Portage Avenue in the West End. The group would go on to stage many other rush-hour bike protests — several of which ended up with arrests and clashes with police — to promote pedaling over driving in the city.
Aug. 2006: After allegations of slowing down an emergency-bound ambulance and more clashes with police, things mellow out with the Critical Mass rides as cops begin escorting protesters as they do with other protest marches.
Sept. 2006: The push for a more bike-friendly Winnipeg goes more mainstream as former Olympic cyclist Lindsay Gauld and bike shop owner Scot Miller organize a mass ride from Assiniboine Park to city hall dubbed Strength and Participation in Numbers (SPIN) to encourage city politicians to boost bike infrastructure.
Nov. 2006: City hall seems to be getting the message that Winnipeg’s active transportation network is lacking as they announces plans for improved cycle routes. In 2006, the city’s active transportation budget is about $200,000.
July 2007: Ninety percent of respondents in a Manitoba survey say they support governments investing more in active transportation projects. Of 803 respondents, 7% were opposed to increased funding and the remainder were strongly opposed.
Spring 2010: The city hosts over a dozen open houses to lay out plans for its biggest-ever year of active transportation construction which tallied up to $20.5 million — funding shared evenly by all three levels of government. In the 2010, the city’s active transportation budget is about $1.75 million.
Fall 2010: While many Winnipeggers lauded city hall for boosting active transportation infrastructure, dedicated bike lanes and traffic calming circles prove too confusing for many and even become a civic election issue.
Feb. 2011: Cycle advocacy group Bike to the Future calls on the NDP government to legislate a one-metre buffer for bikes that motorists would have to respect.
April 2011: Cruz In Downtown, a celebration of classic cars that ran for 11 years, screeches to a halt as the Downtown BIZ decides to shift some of its small amount of annual cash support to other events, including Ciclovia, a celebration of bikes and pedestrians that takes over a part of Broadway in September.
May 2011: Winnipeg police target cyclists who fail to dismount on the Osborne Bridge. Many cyclists — and even pedestrians on the bridge — cried foul over the $111 tickets as construction work on the span has left it a snarled mess with little room for bikes.

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