Victoria has $5-million plan to make cycling safer

About $5 million in cycling improvements have been identified as priorities over the next five years as Victoria looks to create safer bike routes.

The priority projects, which Victoria councillors will consider this week, target major streets with a focus on completing east-west corridors, developing low-stress routes and improving connections to attract new or less experienced cyclists, says a staff report.

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“What we’ve really heard loud and clear, and which I found fascinating, is both the committed cyclists and those that are thinking about cycling came to the same conclusion, which is: It is about safe streets and about safe routes. It is about separated bike lanes — that physical separation,” Mayor Dean Fortin said.

The priority list, shaped by feedback from public workshops and surveys completed in the spring, includes improvements on Pandora Avenue, Johnson Street, Vancouver Street and Wharf and Belleville streets.

While details of what each project could include are not yet available, the proposal says some routes could include bike lanes that are separated from motor vehicle lanes.

“That is the big question mark, is what kind of treatments do we do,” said Coun. Ben Isitt.

“Cyclists want to see separated bike lanes, and I agree with them. The city should move forward to put those in.

“What the plan is saying is these are the priorities identified for upgrades, but there’s still that discussion to have on what treatments and how do we change the design to encourage cycling.”

Estimated costs for each area range from $250,000 to $1.3 million and are based on preliminary estimates for Pandora Avenue and previous cycling improvement projects.

Fortin and councillors Marianne Alto and Isitt are part of a cycling task force looking at the city’s cycling network and setting priorities for the next five years.

“I truly love the aspirational statement which came forward, which is: Victoria — a city where cycling is irresistible,” Fortin said.

City staff also are recommending that the city undertake minor improvements to the cycling network this year, using $121,000 in capital funds previously approved for transportation work.

The areas include Doncaster Drive, Convent Street, Collison Street and the Galloping Goose Regional Trail near Selkirk Trestle.

Coun. Lisa Helps called the proposal a small step in the right direction.

“It’s a good start. What I Iike about the approach is we’ve identified five projects over five years. One of the things I insisted on when the project charter came to us is don’t bring this back to us without a budget. And that’s very positive,” Helps said.

She, too, liked the aspirational nature of the plan.

“The thing is about cycling infrastructure is it’s not just about cyclists. When you have things like separated bike lanes and people will cycle from neighbourhood to neighbourhood, when they get off their bike, what are they? They’re a pedestrian,” Helps said.

“So it encourages a different kind of city.”

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

With additional reporting by Sandra McCulloch

Victoria cycling master plan

Six projects in the spotlight

Victoria staff have highlighted six cycling projects, costing an estimated $5 million, as priorities for the city over the next five years.

The proposed projects are:

  • Pandora Avenue between Store Street and Cook Street — $1.3 million
  • Johnson Street between Store and Cook — $1.3 million
  • Vancouver Street route (from Vancouver Street/ Park Boulevard, to Fifth Street/Tolmie Avenue, via Graham Street and Fifth Street) — $500,000
  • Wharf Street/Belleville Street route between Pandora Avenue and Oswego Street — $1.3 million
  • Off-Bay Street route (Haultain Street/Kings Road between Richmond Road and Dowler Street) — $250,000
  • Off-Shelbourne Street route (Doncaster Drive/North Dairy Road to Gonzales Beach) —$250,000

While details of what each project could include have not been determined, the proposal says some routes could include bike lanes that are physically separated from motor vehicle lanes.

According to the staff report, the costs are based on preliminary estimates for Pandora Avenue and previous cycling improvement projects.

City staff also recommend that the city undertake a number of minor improvements to the cycling network this year, using $121,000 in capital funds previously approved for transportation improvements. They are:

  • Doncaster Drive between Myrtle Street and Hillside Avenue (path realignment)
  • 900 block Convent Street (improved access at Vancouver Street)
  • 900 block Collison Street (improved access at Quadra Street)
  • Galloping Goose Regional Trail (paving of pedestrian path south of Selkirk Trestle)

This would be in addition to about $580,000 in cycling infrastructure work being done this year. Those projects include Skinner Street between Catherine Street and Bay Street, and Cook Street between Finlayson Street and the Victoria-Saanich border.

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