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Victoria eyes two-way bike lane for Pandora by next spring

Victoria could have a two-way, separated bike lane running down Pandora Avenue from Cook Street past city hall to the Johnson Street Bridge by next spring.
Proposed two-way bike lane on Pandora Avenue.

Victoria could have a two-way, separated bike lane running down Pandora Avenue from Cook Street past city hall to the Johnson Street Bridge by next spring.

Staff are recommending construction of a two-way Pandora lane rather than a pair of one-way lanes on Pandora and Johnson Street.

“I think it’s a good choice,” said Mayor Lisa Helps, who rides a bike.

Protected bike lanes, which have yet to be tried in Victoria, aim to provide a safe riding environment by separating cyclists from vehicle lanes with barriers such as landscape planters or curbs.

Staff recommend that construction on the project begins this fall. The report is scheduled to go to a council committee Thursday.

The staff pick follows a public consultation that included an online survey and a “pop-up” bike lane open house.

The two-way Pandora option is seen as the least expensive — an estimated $2.16 million, compared with $2.8 million for one-way protected lanes on Pandora and Johnson. Building two protected lanes would require more concrete, traffic-signal changes and paint. The Pandora option also requires that fewer parking spaces be removed — 44 compared with 78 for the Pandora/Johnson option.

The project would include extension of the bike lanes on Johnson from the bridge to the existing lanes at Cook Street. The lanes would be conventional lanes painted on the street.

One-way separated bike lanes on Johnson and Pandora would likely be perceived as more intuitive, as cars and bikes would be heading in the same direction, city staff say.

However, that option would require more space and would have greater impact on vehicles making right turns, and on parking and loading space.

The two-way lane would provide a direct connection to the Galloping Goose Regional Trail and, it is hoped, encourage cyclists of all ages and abilities to ride. During the consultation, concerns were raised about the possibility of increased driver-cyclist and pedestrian-cyclist conflicts and collisions, as well as increased head-on collisions amongst cyclists.

Helps said the new separated lane is just the beginning.

“What we want to do is create a separated cycle network throughout the downtown — and ideally between neighbourhoods, but that’s probably the next phase,” Helps said. “Our ambition, and it’s quite ambitious, is to have the whole network designed by December 2015. And then 2016, 2017 and 2018, we just build it.”

The Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition has been advocating for a third option.

“We favour a hybrid option: A two-way bike lane on Pandora, to allow the best connection from the new Galloping Goose Regional Trail on the Johnson Street Bridge, and a one-way protected lane on Johnson Street, to allow people who ride across the road bridge a clear connection to eastern downtown and beyond.”

City staff estimated the cost of this option at $3.1 million.

Similar to the Pandora/Johnson option, this would involve narrowing the sidewalk on the south side of Johnson between Store and Broad streets. The sidewalk space could be retained but only by removing on-street parking and loading zones, the city staff report says.