Verdict on bike lane, scramble crosswalk: We feel safer

Cyclists and pedestrians in downtown Victoria say they’re enjoying new infrastructure that’s making many feel safer.

A new stretch of separated bike lane on Wharf Street opened on Thursday from the Johnson Street Bridge to Fort Street.

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A scramble crosswalk at the intersection of Government Street and Wharf Street also opened the same day. The crosswalk stops vehicle traffic in all directions, allowing pedestrians to cross both streets at the same time, or walk diagonally through the intersection.

Cyclists on the newly opened bike lane said they appreciate the dedicated cycling infrastructure and they feel safer riding when they’re separated from vehicle traffic.

Andrew Dacanay and Marie-Claude Gregoire rode the new stretch for the first time today. Dacanay was towing their three-year-old in a trailer behind his bike.

“To have a protected bike lane where you know cars can’t intrude into it makes a huge difference, especially when you're towing an infant or if you are feeling a little less confident on a bicycle,” Dacanay said.

He said that the location of separated bike lanes influences the route he chooses to cycle when he’s with his toddler. Dacanay will be riding the bike lane every day to drop his son off at daycare.

Gregoire said in the past the couple have had to ride on the road with their son or put him in a stroller and walk.

Melissa Kia and Zad Bouchedid, both avid cyclists, also said they feel safer in the new separated lane.

Kia thinks the infrastructure will encourage more people to try cycling in the city.

“I just love it. I love the separation between me and the traffic,” Kia said. “I think it’s a really healthy addition to the city.”

Bouchedid said he appreciated that the city put the bike lane next to the water. “They really picked the right route for the right view,” he said.

With the bike lane open, pedestrians have to look for bicycles before crossing the road.

One pedestrian noticed that not everyone seemed aware of the change. Janel Casey, visiting Victoria from Coquitlam, saw a woman walk into the lane without checking for bike traffic.

A cyclist stopped quickly to avoid her.

“If you’re not aware, or if there’s not enough signage, you might think it’s an extension of a sidewalk,” Casey said.

The separated bike lane is blocked south of Fort Street, where cyclists have to share the lane with traffic. Cyclists are eager to see the rest of the lane, continuing to Government Street, open on Aug. 8.

The new lane is part of the city’s plans for a network of connected bike routes across Victoria. The city aims to complete 32 kilometres of bicycle infrastructure designed for all ages and all abilities by the end of 2022.

Pedestrians at the newly opened scramble crosswalk nearby seemed comfortable walking through the middle of the intersection two days after it opened.

Debbie Lefebvre walked diagonally across for the first time today.

“It’s straightforward and easy to use,” she said. “It looks like it’s working.”

Christine Crowley, visiting from San Francisco, is familiar with the scramble crosswalk and said it makes her feel safer as a pedestrian crossing the road.

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The new crosswalk at Government Street and Wharf Street is not Victoria's first scramble crosswalk. For example, there was also a scramble crosswalk in the late 1950s and early 1960s at Douglas Street and Yates Street. This story has been corrected.

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