$6.6M bike-lane project to ‘transform’ Vancouver Street in the fall

The next stage of Victoria’s protected cycling network is projected to cost $6.6 million, with construction set to start this fall. The biggest chunk will be $5.08 million for a 3.3-kilometre route along Vancouver Street from Dallas to Caledonia.

Mayor Lisa Helps said there’s no doubt the design, which will give cyclists and pedestrians priority over cars, will be approved when it goes to council on Thursday. “We’re kind of in a new cycle now: consult, design, construct,” Helps said. “There’s been a lot of detailed engagement for a long period of time on this.

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“So I think council will approve this and then staff will go out and do the detailed design and get it tendered.”

She called the approach “transformational” for Vancouver Street. “We’re taking the best elements of Vancouver Street and really building on them.”

While separated bike lanes are being proposed for the 1.3-kilometre downtown portion of Vancouver Street between Balmoral Road and Meares Street, the design of the remaining two kilometres — from Bay Street to Balmoral Road to the north and from Meares Street to Park Boulevard and Park to Dallas Road — will mostly focus on traffic diversion and traffic calming.

Vancouver street will be blocked to through motor traffic in at least two locations — at McLure Street and at Pandora Avenue — where “street plazas” with trees and seating will be built. At some intersections, cars will be restricted from turning onto Vancouver and the speed limit on Vancouver will be reduced to 30 km/h.

The idea is to divert motor-vehicle traffic off Vancouver and onto either Quadra Street or Cook Street.

If the number of vehicles is reduced to between 500 and 1,000 a day from the estimated 5,500 to 8,700 now using it, it will be considered a “safe” cycling route for all ages and abilities.

Staff say both Quadra and Cook can handle the additional traffic, but they are proposing a number of improvements to support the changes to Vancouver, including:

• a left-hand turn signal at Pandora and Cook

• a traffic circle and improved pedestrian crossing at Southgate and Cook

• allowing for a southbound left turn off Quadra at Burdett (currently restricted)

• an advanced left-turn signal at the intersection of Fairfield and Cook

Helps said the shared-roadway approach means no trees have to be taken down for the bike network. Creating a separated bike lane on Vancouver Street would have required widening and that would have meant “massive” tree removal, she said.

The Vancouver Street stretch will provide safe biking connections to the soon-to-open Humboldt Street bike route, as well as separated bike lanes on Fort Street and Pandora Avenue.

About 36 parking stalls are to be eliminated along the downtown stretch of Vancouver Street, but staff say 18 new parking stalls will be added between Bay Street and Balmoral Road, along with 51 stalls between Meares Street and Park Boulevard.

Staff are also seeking council approval for the design of two-way protected bike lanes on the water side of Harbour Road from the Johnson Street Bridge to the Galloping Goose Trail, at an estimated cost of $700,000. Staff want approval to seek feedback from residents on a proposal for $900,000 in shared-roadway improvements to 1.3 kilometres of Graham and Jackson streets from Bay Street to Tolmie Avenue.

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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