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Charlottetown bike advocacy group highlights progress and challenges

Mitch Underhay, who is with Bike Friendly Charlottetown, is thrilled with the progress in regard to active transportation paths in the greater capital area.
Mitch Underhay, who is with Bike Friendly Charlottetown, is thrilled with the progress in regard to active transportation paths in the greater capital area. - Dave Stewart

Bike Friendly Charlottetown has been pressing all levels of government the past two years on building an active transportation network in the capital city as well as Stratford and Cornwall.

Mitch Underhay, who speaks for the group, said it’s not just about creating paved trails for cyclists, wheelchairs, scooters, skateboarders and inline skaters. It’s about connecting all of those trails into one inter-connected network.

There are a number of projects underway in the greater Charlottetown area. 

Cornwall is constructing one that runs along Main Street, stretching across the North River bridge, past the Maypoint roundabout and ending at the intersection of Capital Drive and North River Road in Charlottetown.

Charlottetown is in the process of building a path from Murchison Drive at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital up to St. Peters Road with the goal of eventually stretching it up to Mount Edward Road and linking with the Confederation Trail.

The biggest project underway is a dedicated path under construction across Hillsborough Bridge.

More trails

  • The mayor’s active transportation task force is also talking about trails in Sherwood, including on Maple Avenue and a connection to Stonepark Intermediate School.
  • Nassau Street could also see modular blocks to separate cyclists and vehicles.A Charlottetown cycling advocacy group says the progress has been amazing, but there is still vital work that needs to be done. 

Underhay said the next big step is linking them all. He points out both major intersections on either side of the Hillsborough Bridge need a safe crossing for the active transportation network.

“On the Charlottetown side, they’re going to have to go along Grafton Street and connect to Joe Ghiz Park and then you’re hooked into the Confederation Trail," Underhay said. “You need that connection and you need to make sure that the intersection crossing is safe because that’s a big, scary intersection."

Consultants are currently working on designs for the Stratford side of the bridge.

“There are lots of kids in Stratford who go to Birchwood (intermediate school). Imagine if they could bike to school."

Bike Friendly Charlottetown is working with a number of partners on this. Cycling P.E.I. is also advocating for bike paths and the provincial government has chipped in to help as well, promising last November $5 million a year for five years towards the goal of building a network.

“We want to get more people biking and get bikes into the hands of people who don’t have them. We want to make sure they have a place to ride it safely. We want kids to get out biking and we don’t want any traffic accidents."

When Bike Friendly Charlottetown talks about dedicated lanes for active transportation, it refers to more than painted lines on the pavement. The goal is to create a physical barrier with vehicles in order to make everyone feel as safe as possible.

Underhay said that physical barrier is extremely important to convince those not the most comfortable on bikes to take up the activity, whether it’s for recreation purposes or to make a trip to the store.

Bike Friendly Charlottetown intends to continue pushing municipalities and the province for a long-term master plan while engaging the community on what it wants to see.

Dave Stewart is The Guardian's municipal reporter.


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