Busy sections of Galloping Goose, Lochside trails could get separate bike and walking lanes

The Capital Regional District is considering widening the busiest parts of the Galloping Goose and Lochside trails to separate bicycles from pedestrians.

The most congested areas are on the Galloping Goose just north of the Selkirk Trestle to the McKenzie interchange and the beginning of the Lochside trail, where it splits from the Goose, to McKenzie Avenue, according to a report on widening the trails received by the CRD’s regional parks committee Wednesday.

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Corey Burger, president of the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition, said his group is excited about the proposed changes, because the sheer volume of cyclists and pedestrians on the trail leads to inevitable conflict.

“It just doesn’t work to keep these two different modes who are travelling at such different speeds together,” he said.

Burger said complaints tend to come from people walking, because bikes pass them at higher speeds than pedestrians can travel.

A CRD staff report recommends creating a four-metre-wide, two-way bike path next to a 2.5-metre-wide pedestrian path on those busy stretches, an increase of one to 3.5 metres in width.

The CRD is also looking at lighting the busiest sections of the trail with LED lights at 40-metre intervals, including a section that passes the Swan Lake nature sanctuary in Saanich.

The estimated cost of widening and lighting 6.6 kilometres of the trails is $17.8 million.

Lorelei Sommer, who was walking on the Galloping Goose just north of the Selkirk Trestle on Wednesday, said she has been walking the trail a few times a week during the pandemic, and while she hasn’t had any close calls, she likes the idea of separating people on bikes from people walking. It would also make things a little less confusing, she said, because the section of trail just south of the Selkirk Trestle has a separate pedestrian path.

Sarah Johnson, who was walking her dog near the trestle, said she walks her dog every day on the trail, and cycles it during the summer.

“It would be really great as a cyclist to not have to worry about going around pedestrians, and same as a pedestrian with a dog, to not have to worry about getting out of the way of the cyclist is nice,” she said.

Before the pandemic, the trails were seeing a roughly 2.5 per cent increase in the volume of users year-over-year, Burger said. The pandemic has skewed the use slightly, with some areas seeing an increase and others a decrease.

The Galloping Goose records nearly two million visits per year and the Lochside has about one million visitors per year.

Respondents to a 2019 survey of trail users indicated a high level of satisfaction with the trail system, but reported issues with the increasing volume and speed of users, lack of separation between users, poor trail etiquette, lack of lighting and safety concerns at intersections. The majority of users are cyclists, according to the CRD report.

The report to the CRD says the work would be completed in sections as funding becomes available, beginning with the Galloping Goose between Selkirk Trestle and Culduthel Road near Uptown, because it is the busiest and narrowest section.

The parks committee voted to expedite public consultation on widening the trails, but the CRD board must first approve the recommendation.

regan-elliott@timescolonist.com

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