Hello transit priority corridor, goodbye bike lane

Bryna Hallam

I don't ride Douglas Street often, even though it has a bike lane, out of choice. Quite frankly, there are more pleasant ways for me to get where I'm going.

I made an exception over the past few weeks to see what it's like with the new bus-bike lanes, and my original assessment stands: putting "bike" in the name is just a way to hide the fact that the actual bike lane is gone. Which means for the 18 hours of the day that the bus/bike lane isn't in operation, there's no place for bikes.

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I get it: The bus-bike lanes — more properly called a transit priority corridor — were never about bikes. The corridor is part of an effort to make transit more efficient and reliable.

As someone who's sat on a bus in rush-hour traffic, I'm totally on board with that. I just wish the powers that be had opted for something that didn't sacrifice some of the frankly not extensive cycling infrastructure that exists in Victoria.

Douglas was a never a great bike route: lots of turning vehicles, lots of buses moving in and out, lots of car doors swinging open, ends abruptly, takes you almost nowhere. But its existence was a kind of sign that bikes are allowed and deserve space on the road.

Yes, the physical space itself is still there, a bike-lane-like shape between the traffic and the parked cars, but the markings are gone, scraped of the roadway. (Except for one, a ghost of bike lanes past.) This feels like a net loss to me.

I’m not alone in my concerns. As representatives of the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition told me last year — reiterated on the group's website — buses took priority over bikes in this plan. This pretty much sums it up:

Current best practices recognize cyclists as a vulnerable road user group and recommend transferring the conflict away from the bike/bus interface. Placing cyclists in direct conflict with public transit is a safety hazard and a deterrent, especially for less confident cyclists, and especially on a major transit corridor like Douglas. It is possible to design/integrate a bike lane on a corridor with high transit volumes, and other cities have done so.

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