Cycling Plans & Projects
Cycling is becoming increasingly popular, both as a recreational activity and as an environmentally-friendly mode of transportation. The City of Saskatoon recognizes that cycling is important to many residents and is working towards making Saskatoon a bicycle-friendly city.
Planning and Priorities
Active Transportation Plan
As part of the Growth Plan to Half a Million, the City of Saskatoon has developed an Active Transportation Plan – a first for our community!
Through the Active Transportation Plan (ATP) residents will have improved options for moving around our city, whether it’s by walking, by biking, skateboarding or other forms of active transportation. The ATP will help shape changes in infrastructure and support programs that will encourage all of us to use active forms of transportation more often – whether for work, pleasure or day-to-day personal travels.
Click here to learn more.
Downtown All Ages and Abilities (AAA) Network Plan
The City of Saskatoon is committed to providing safe streets for users of all ages, abilities, and modes of travel. The Complete Streets Policy and Design Guide (Guide), was developed to help achieve that goal through a more balanced approach to street design that accommodates the safe movement of people by multiple modes and of all ages and abilities.
Supporting the goals of that Guide, the Active Transportation Plan (AT Plan) was approved in principle by City Council in June 2016. This plan identifies the importance of providing an interconnected system of bicycle facilities that are comfortable and attractive for users of all ages and abilities (‘AAA’). AAA cycling facilities physically separate people riding bikes from drivers. This makes cycling more attractive for people of all ages and abilities by increasing the comfort level and feeling of safety.
When the Downtown Protected Bike Lane Demonstration (23rd Street and 4th Avenue) wrapped up in November 2017, Council directed the Administration to report back on what a complete and connected downtown ‘AAA’ cycling network would look like in Saskatoon.
The Downtown ‘All-Ages and Abilities’ Network Plan will:
- Take into consideration how cycling facilities connect to Saskatoon’s wider cycling network;
- Determine how to integrate with other key Downtown projects such as the Bus Rapid Transit plan development along 3rd Avenue and the opening of the Traffic Bridge in fall of 2018; and,
- Consider the impacts to all users in the Downtown to ensure that the most appropriate streets host AAA facilities.
Planning for the Downtown AAA Network Plan is underway. A report to Council on the network will be delivered in June 2018.
Protected Bike Lane Demonstration Project – 23rd Street | 4th Avenue
The Protected Bike Lane Demonstration Project is now complete. A report outlining the results of the demonstration was received by City Council on November 19, 2017. The recommendations in the report were:
- That a provision for protected bike lanes be included in the Downtown All Ages and Abilities cycling network;
- That the Administration develop a Downtown All Ages and Abilities cycling network (including protected bike lanes) in concert with other downtown policy and planning initiatives in 2018;
- That the existing protected bike lanes on 23rd Street (from Spadina Crescent to Idylwyld Drive) and 4th Avenue (from 20th Street to 24th Street) be retained until the Downtown All Ages and Abilities cycling network is presented to City Council; and
- That the report of the A/General Manager, Transportation & Utilities Department dated November 6, 2017 be forwarded to the Traffic Safety Committee for information.
Additional details are contained within the full report.
Protected Bike Lanes:
A Protected Bike Lane is a dedicated, marked lane for people on bikes that is physically separated from vehicles and pedestrian traffic by parked vehicles, a painted buffer and delineator posts.
- Physically separate people on bikes from people driving vehicles
- Make biking a more attractive transportation option
- Increase the comfort level and feeling of safety by ‘protecting’ people on bikes from traffic and car doors opening
- Increase the comfort of driving by making the movements of people on bikes more predictable
- Increase the comfort of people walking by reducing ‘sidewalk riding’
Permanent Protected Bike Lanes have been built in Canada’s largest cities including Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa and Calgary. Demonstration projects are currently underway in Edmonton and Winnipeg, and now in Saskatoon.
Watch this short video on how Protected Bike Lanes work in Saskatoon.
In March 2015, City Council approved a recommendation to proceed with a Protected Bike Lane Demonstration Project in the downtown.
The goal of the project is to create a vibrant and healthy downtown by improving cycling as a strategy to increase the attractiveness of and access to the downtown for businesses, residents, visitors, employers and their employees.
23rd Street and 4th Avenue Protected Bike Lanes
The 23rd Street Protected Bike Lane opened in 2015:
- The lane runs between Idylwyld Drive and Spadina Crescent East in both directions.
- This route was chosen because of its capacity to accommodate the lane with little disruption to Saskatoon Transit buses and parking. The lane also brings people who bike directly to the centre of downtown and connects with other popular cycling routes.
The 4th Avenue Protected Bike Lane opened in May 2016:
- The lane runs between 20th Street East and 24th Street East in both directions, and connects to the Broadway Bridge.
- This route was chosen because it connects to the Broadway Bridge and existing conventional bike lanes.
- 4th Avenue has been reconfigured with a bidirectional (two-way) left-turn lane and one lane of traffic in each direction for the duration of the project. With this reconfiguration, the centre turning lane is used to make left turns only from either direction – it may not be used as a passing lane or as a driving lane. The lane also allows for left turns to and from a driveway. This type of lane is not new to Saskatoon – a bidirectional left-turn lane is currently in place on 1st Avenue from 20th Street to 25th Street.
4th Avenue Reconfiguration (Example)
Cycling Road Signs
|These signs designate a portion of the street as a Protected Bike Lane. People walking should look for oncoming bicycles when crossing the lane. People driving are not permitted to travel or stop in this lane unless making a right turn on to a cross street or into a driveway. Transit buses may stop at designated stops.|
|These signs remind people biking and people driving cars that the Protected Bike Lane ends. Drivers should watch for bicycles transitioning out of the Protected Bike Lane and into the traffic lane.|
|These signs remind people biking that they are to dismount and walk their bikes through the Saskatoon Transit terminal on 23rd Street (between 2nd and 3rd Avenues), just like they do today.|
|These signs reinforce that people on bikes have the right-of-way through the intersection and turning vehicles must yield.|
|This sign reminds people riding bikes to use the left turn bike box to access the shared pathway to the Broadway Bridge.|
|These signs remind people on bikes to wait behind a bus that is stopped in the Protected Bike Lane|
Cycling Road Markings
|Bike Boxes are green painted areas on the pavement provided at all signalized intersections along 23rd Street between Idylwyld Drive and Spadina Crescent East and along 4th Avenue between 20th Street and 24th Street. They are placed to facilitate two-stage left turns for people riding bikes. People riding bikes will be expected to first proceed straight through the intersection and wait in the designated left-turn Bike Box for the green signal on the cross street to complete their left turn.|
Quantitative and qualitative data will be used to evaluate the project. The following indicators will be considered:
- Number of people who use the Protected Bike Lanes;
- Perception of safety by Protected Bike Lane users;
- Observations of sidewalk riding downtown;
- Whether people who bike feel the downtown is more accessible;
- Whether people feel the Protected Bike Lanes are making the downtown more vibrant/attractive;
- Impact on people who drive, walk or use Saskatoon Transit buses downtown;
- Economic impact on businesses bordering the lanes and in the downtown in general; and
- Impact on traffic flow in the downtown.
Protected Bike Lanes - Frequently Asked Questions
Why are Protected Bike Lanes important for the downtown?
The City of Saskatoon Strategic Plan and the City Centre Plan have identified the need to improve cycling as a strategy to increase the attractiveness of and access to the downtown for businesses, residents, visitors, employers and their employees. A vibrant and healthy downtown benefits the entire city and region. The Protected Bike Lane Demonstration Project has been planned to achieve this goal.
Why is it a Demonstration Project?
Downtown is a complex neighbourhood and getting the balance right between traffic, pedestrian, transit and cyclist circulation; parking location and availability; and business success is a part of that complexity. While there is confidence from the experience of other cities that Protected Bike Lanes can be beneficial to the overall success of urban areas, each project is unique and must balance the overall needs of the street and area. Rather than committing to permanent infrastructure at the start, many communities have chosen to ‘demonstrate’ Protected Bike Lanes to get the details right.
Why was the 4th Avenue lane selected to open in 2016?
The University Bridge was closed to traffic for repairs during the summer of 2015 which impacted traffic on 4th Avenue. It was not possible to properly evaluate the project with abnormal traffic conditions caused by the closure.
Will the Demonstration Project impact parking and traffic flow?
- Overall, less than 10 parking spaces will be lost as a result of this project.
- No traffic delays should occur on 23rd Street.
- On 4th Avenue, there could be a slight traffic delay at the intersection of 4th Avenue and 20th Street during the morning peak hour. An additional delay of 6 seconds per vehicle is expected with the proposed configuration. The increase in travel time should be small (20 seconds for the average trip).
- 4th Avenue will be reconfigured with a bidirectional (two-way) left-turn lane and one lane of traffic in each direction for the duration of the project. Although the amount of road space devoted to motor vehicles is reduced, the assignment of left-turn lanes increases traffic predictability throughout the corridor. The design process carefully considered detailed traffic analysis using current vehicle and pedestrian volumes for the weekday morning and afternoon rush hours.
- Traffic will be monitored during the demonstration project to understand the effect of the Protected Bike Lanes.
Downtown Protected Bike Lane Demonstration Project – Spring 2017 Improvements
Based on feedback obtained from stakeholders and the public by spring 2017, some improvements have been made to the bike lanes for the final summer of the demonstration. The following information outlines what the City heard, and what has been changed to address the concerns.
Confusion about parking next to protected bike lanes
CONCERN: Although most people are now familiar with how to park next to the protected bike lanes, those encountering the bike lanes for the first time may require additional instruction.
CHANGE: Additional signs have been installed on bike lane delineator poles, which have been effective in marking “No Parking” areas.
Signs for drivers are not easily visible
CONCERN: Signs reminding drivers making right-turns to yield to people riding in the bike lanes are hard for drivers to see.
CHANGE: The signs were originally placed on the curb on the sidewalk. To improve visibility of these signs for drivers on 4th Avenue, these signs were moved in the buffer between the bike lane and the driving lane. These changes were not made to 23rd Street because transit bus stops near the corner do not allow for this adjustment.
Driving lanes shift through intersections
CONCERN: After installation, the driving lane lines at some intersections on 4th Avenue did not line up perfectly.
CHANGE: The driving lane widths were adjusted to improve the traffic lane transitions.
Poor visibility of people on bikes at intersections
CONCERN: Right turning drivers have found it difficult to see people on bikes approaching intersections, especially if there are several parked cars.
CHANGE: To improve visibility, the bike lanes on 4th Avenue have been reconfigured. A “bend-in” design at the intersection moves the people on bikes in line with the traffic lanes and provides better sight-lines for all users. The “bend-in” design was not applied to 23rd Street as the current conditions of the street facilitate visibility at intersections.
Drivers turning in/out of driveways
CONCERN: Drivers and people on bikes had safety and visibility concerns at driveways.
CHANGE: The painted buffers at driveways were changed from a 20 degree angle to a 90 degree angle to promote a slower turn and improve visibility. This change encourages drivers to approach the driving lane at a right angle, improving sight lines and reducing right turn speeds.
Delays due to ‘No Right Turn on Red’ restriction
CONCERN: This restriction was put in place on cross-streets to prevent drivers from entering the bike boxes where people on bikes may be waiting. Drivers found this restriction unnecessarily increased delay, especially when the bike box was unoccupied.
CHANGE: The restriction was removed. Drivers are now permitted to turn right at a red light. A “Turning Vehicles Yield to Bikes” sign has been put up instead. This sign still requires drivers turning right at a red light to yield to people on bikes in the bike box. If there are no people on bikes present, drivers may proceed with their right turn.
Downtown Protected Bike Lane Demonstration Project – Potential Improvements
If the bike lanes become permanent, additional improvements may be made. The following information outlines what the City heard prior to spring 2017 and what could be considered for future improvements.
The bidirectional (two-way) left-turn lane on 4th Avenue is confusing
CONCERN: The two-way left-turn lane on 4th Ave was causing confusion. People driving were not sure if the lane was available for all purposes (left turns, passing, driving) or designated for specific functions.
POTENTIAL CHANGE: Overhead signs can be added to clearly mark the lane designations.
Delay for people on bikes due to two-stage left turns in bike boxes
CONCERN: Two-stage left turn bike boxes are complicated and inconvenient for both people on bikes and drivers.
POTENTIAL CHANGE: One-stage left turns in bike boxes may be considered to reduce delay to people on bikes in the bike boxes. However, these would require people on bikes to move into the traffic stream, thereby reducing safety.
Inability to park adjacent to the curb for people with disabilities
CONCERN: The installation of the bike lane prevents people with disabilities from being able to park adjacent to the curb in the protected bike lane locations.
POTENTIAL CHANGE: Accessible parking can be provided next to a raised platform that connects to the sidewalk. This would include a highly visible crosswalk with warning signs for people on bikes to slow down.
The paint for the bike lane wears off
CONCERN: The paint used for the demonstration project wore away quickly.
POTENTIAL CHANGE: Durable pavement markings can be used.
The bike lanes do not connect to other cycling infrastructure
CONCERN: 4th Avenue – Although the bike lane connects to the shared pathway at the bottom of the Broadway Bridge at the south end, it ends abruptly at 19th and 24th streets. 23rd Street – At the east end, the bike lanes connect to Spadina Crescent’s on-street bike lanes. At the west end, the bike lanes end abruptly at Idylwyld Drive.
POTENTIAL CHANGES: Planning for a downtown All Ages and Ability network was identified as a high priority in the Active Transportation Plan. Intersection improvements at 19th Street and 3rd Avenue and 4th Avenue are being developed and will include cycling accommodation. The Imagine Idylwyld project is redesigning the intersection at 23rd Street to provide cycling facilities to connect to the Blairmore Bikeway (23rd Street bike boulevard).
Downtown Protected Bike Lane Demonstration Project – Ongoing Improvements & Education
Traffic seems to move slower on 4th Avenue
- Monitoring of traffic flow has shown that travel times increased about 20 seconds for the average trip along 4th Avenue during a peak period. Queuing time for drivers at intersections has not increased beyond an average of 25 seconds per vehicle during the afternoon peak hour.
- Although the amount of road space devoted to motor vehicles is reduced, the assignment of left-turn lanes increases traffic predictability throughout the corridor.
- Turning in and out of driveways during the evening rush hour may take longer for drivers to find a gap in traffic.
Snow / Ice / Water
The City’s goal is to have the bike lanes cleared 48 hours after the end of a major snowfall event. The lanes are cleared and treated with sand as needed between snow events.
- Businesses pushing snow into bike lanes
In the downtown, snow removal is timed to allow properties to push their snow onto roadways - parking or bike lane - up to 24 hours after a snow event. The City then removes this snow during clean-up. Most downtown businesses are able to comply. Notices were issued to several businesses this winter who were repeatedly piling snow into the lanes that had already been cleared by the City. The City relies on calls to Public Works Dispatch to identify these locations and proceed with getting them cleared.
- Water/ice accumulating in the bike lane
This is a function of the bike lane placement adjacent to curb as well as pavement condition. Water drains to gutters and catch basins on either side of the street and are the lowest points on the road. Typically, accumulated water and ice is covered by parked vehicles. During the spring thaw, some accumulation is natural although catch basins may become obstructed and need City intervention.
Pavement deterioration on 23rd Street has definitely contributed to drainage issues. Resurfacing is planned for 2018 between 4th Avenue and Spadina Crescent.
Debris in the bike lanes
The gutters will naturally accumulate natural debris including grass clipping and leaves. The City is pleased to partner with the Downtown Saskatoon Business Improvement District (DTN YXE) in sweeping the bike lanes in 2017.
Poles near bus stops and some corners were being hit repeatedly and were removed. The City relies on notification of damaged poles so that they can be repaired quickly.
Immediate response to maintenance issues
Every block of the bike lanes cannot be inspected daily. The City requests that people call Public Works Dispatch to identify hazardous conditions and their specific location in order to get the problem fixed quickly. This includes:
- Snow pushed into the bike lanes after they have been cleared
- Clogged catch basins
- Dangerous glass or debris in the bike lanes
- Poles damaged or knocked down
White delineator poles
White “delineator” poles along with a painted buffer were used to physically separate and protect people cycling in the bike lanes. Since this is a demonstration project, this separation treatment was selected as it was the quickest and least expensive.
If the protected bike lanes become permanent, different separation options will be considered. Different types of barriers that can be used between the parking and bike lane include: planters, raised concrete curbs and different pole or bollard designs.
Vehicles blocking the bike lanes
While protected bike lanes separate people on bikes from motor vehicles, conflict points will remain as people need access to back lanes and parkades in a busy downtown centre. Everyone needs to remain alert.
Drivers, people on bikes, pedestrians and transit users are still adjusting to the introduction of the protected bike lanes. Flyers/pamphlets or other communications can be considered to further educate road users.
Transit terminal location
People on bikes are required to dismount and walk their bike across the transit terminal. However, the transit terminal is expected to be relocated in the not too distant future with the implementation of Bus Rapid Transit.
Buses stopping in the protected bike lanes
People on bikes are required to wait behind a bus that is stopped in the bike lane to load/unload passengers. Transit platforms could be installed outside the bike lanes so that buses would no longer block the bike lane.
Use of wheelchairs, scooters in bike lanes
People may find that the bike lanes offer a smoother path. The City will look into the bylaw ramifications and how best to accommodate all users
Proper work zones
It is important that proper work zones are set up when there is construction in the protected bike lane. Guidelines will be developed to ensure proper work zones are barricaded and signed appropriately.
33rd Street Multi-Use Corridor
The City of Saskatoon is developing a multi-use pathway from the University of Saskatchewan to SIAST Kelsey Campus. The plan includes the construction of a multi-use pathway along the south side of 33rd Street and a roundabout at the intersection of 33rd Street and Spadina Crescent. The multi-use pathway on the south side of 33rd Street between Spadina Crescent and 3rd Avenue was completed in September 2013.
The following provides anticipated timelines and history for this project:
- Construction of Ontario Avenue to Quebec Avenue.
- Funds to complete the project were approved in the 2018 Budget.
- Construction of Quebec Avenue to 3rd Avenue/Warman Road could be complete in 2019 pending funding.
Construction of the two projects had to manage two separate windows of opportunity:
Old Preston Avenue: Construction could not begin until after seeding of the U of S Crop Sciences research plot because the pathway crosses a key access to the U of S land. Work will be completed this year.
33rd Street: Coordination with Sask Polytechnic has been ongoing. Some service connections on their site had to be modified to accommodate their construction plans. As well, a new program started earlier in August than previous years.
- Two projects were tendered together to secure best prices:
New multi-use path on Old Preston Avenue connecting Meewasin Trail to Preston Avenue
New multi-use path on 33rd Street: Ontario Avenue to Quebec Avenue
- We were unable to tender until late in the season. Work began on Old Preston Avenue in September but an early snowfall stopped work.
- Property acquisition process completed.
- Construction was anticipated in 2015 pending funding.
- 33rd Street (Capital Project #2447) received $100k while Bicycle Facilities (Capital Project #1137) did not receive any construction funding.
- As detailed design began, a large underground vault and additional industrial debris were discovered. Remediation became necessary as is often the case when excavating in industrial areas. Thus, project cost and time estimates increased. It was then decided to proceed to construct a smaller portion: Ontario Avenue to Quebec Avenue.
- Design completed for the connection between Idylwyld Drive and 3rd Avenue/Warman Road.
- Property acquisition process began.
- 3rd Avenue/Warman Road to Spadina Crescent constructed.