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Turning right on a red light could lead to a fine on bike network

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Turning right on a red light could lead to a fine on bike network
Issue Time:2017-08-18
Police enforcement has started on traffic violations, which can lead to substantial fines, resulting from the new downtown bike network.

The Edmonton Police Service has been at several downtown intersections this week to enforce the new restrictions for motorists travelling along the network.

Sgt. David Jones took to Twitter earlier this week to inform residents of the control change and that police are enforcing new rules and issuing tickets.

The 7.8-kilometre series of optional protected bike lanes running through the downtown core as of mid-June come with a set of rules and restrictions for motorists and cyclists, including a prohibition against making a right-turn on a red light at several intersections. 

This law, under Alberta's Traffic Act, prohibits turning on a red when crossing lanes of traffic, which the new bike lanes are considered. The fine for failing to obey a traffic control is $233.

Police aren't the only ones using social media to get the message out to the public.

The city has launched an online campaign with important tips and a video outlining the changes. Bike network project manager Olga Messinis said the city has also launched a bike network education team and driver education campaign.

Education team co-ordinator Pam Hnytka said the eight- to 12-member street team hands out brochures to parked motorists. 

They also offer ride-along tours — which can be requested online — to ride the network with street team members to learn about the new features.

The new traffic rules have been in effect since the network opened in June, Messinis said, and along with the education program, the city followed its usual regulations for changing traffic controls.

A bright orange "starburst" sign was added at the intersections to notify drivers of the new right-turn rule, Messinis said.

The sign noting the illegal turn is still there, but Messinis said the starburst signs were taken down after two weeks because people already knew about it and the message gets stale. 

But Ryan Ramage said he was unaware of the new control and was pulled over by police Tuesday morning for turning right onto 102 Avenue from 109 Street. 

Ramage said he frequently travels the same route to get to work and noted he was on vacation for two weeks and never saw the starburst signs. 

After being pulled over and getting a fine of $233 with three demerit points, Ramage said he returned to the intersection to watch roughly nine out of 10 cars break the rule while police were enforcing. 

He said he believes there is not enough awareness of the new rules and also questions the sign placement at this particular intersection because many people are missing it.

"If people aren't seeing the sign, something is wrong," he said. 

Messinis said the city is monitoring the bike network and traffic for 18 months to evaluate the new system.

Bike counters on the network tallied 2,454 users during a 24-hour period on May 31. The latest day tally, on June 30 when the bike network was functioning, counted 4,711 users — almost double — and in both cases the usage peaked during morning and evening rush hour travel times.