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'Squished': Saskatoon bike lane markers more symbolic than effective, cyclists say


The debate over bike lanes is as contentious as ever, and now there’s a concern the posts along Saskatoon’s current lanes are useless because they’re being flattened by vehicles.

The white posts are supposed to separate cyclists from the driving lanes, but currently many are not doing much because they’ve been knocked over — which isn’t surprising to James Arnold with advocacy group Saskatoon Cycles.

“It’s inadequate cycling infrastructure for several reasons and one of those is that automobiles can run them over and we have several that are squished,” Arnold told CTV News.

Arnold bikes everywhere in the city. He says the fact that many of the posts are not standing proves the city has put little effort into making roads safe for cyclists. Dedicated cycling infrastructure could have prevented bike collisions like the one on College Drive in May that killed Saskatoon mother Natasha Fox.

“These are a little bit better than paint on the road. Paint on the road doesn’t keep automobiles from striking cyclists or hurting them,” Arnold says, but he admits they’re better than nothing.

When the posts were installed back in 2015 as a pilot project, other essential measures to supplement them like specific bike signal lights at intersections weren’t introduced, making the overall safety plan fall short.

One of Saskatoon's flimsy downtown bike lane posts. (Courtesy: Chad Hills)

“They left this in as symbolic, like they’re trying to do something,” says Arnold.

The flattened dividers caught the attention of a Facebook page focusing on Saskatoon’s traffic troubles. The post showed photos of the downed posts along 23rd Street. It garnered dozens of comments representing both sides of the bike lane debate.

The city’s transportation department told CTV News in an email the posts were typically replaced once or twice a year, at a cost of about $75 each.

Ward 10 city councillor Zach Jeffries says reports of knocked over, damaged or missing posts should be directed to the city’s customer care centre.

Repairs aside, Jeffries says there are ways to do active transportation better in the downtown.

“The Meewasin trail is a really good way for folks to get around whether its on foot, bike or scooter and that’s the kind of opportunities I’m looking for in our downtown area,” Jeffries says.

In March 2022, the city outlined next steps for permanent bike lanes, but the transportation committee opted to hold off until plans around bus rapid transit and the downtown arena came together.

There is currently no timeline for when discussion about permanent downtown protected bike lanes will resume, according to an email from the transportation department.

As for Arnold, he utilizes the Meewasin trail every day to get to and from home and says he specifically bought his home with access to the trail in mind.

The avid cycler maintains that in order for our city to move into the future and avoid more tragic bike fatalities, alternate forms of transportation besides cars and trucks need to be accommodated. Top Stories

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