Comment: Richardson Street works, don’t install bike lanes

A commentary by a concerned commuter.

I live on one of the quiet side streets affected by the Richardson bike lane proposal. I have commuted on Richardson by car and by bicycle for going on 22 years.

Those who live and work in other parts of town west of Cook and of Margaret Jenkins automatically use it to move up and down from Cook.

I have never experienced congestion or any difficulty riding a bicycle, with the minor exception of the “S” curve near the foot of Lotbininère, where parking should probably be restricted as the road narrows a bit right there and it is hard to get out of the way on a bike going east. There is otherwise plenty of room for cars to pass bicycles safely.

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In spite of carrying up to 3,800 cars a day, Richardson is never crowded, one never encounters more than a handful of cars even at busy times, there is never a wait at the four way stops.

If one is travelling by bicycle with small children, or nervous about any cars, there is always the option of Chandler/Brooke for the majority of the length of Richardson.

The fact is, Richardson works. This is the comment one is almost invariably met with when one brings up this absurd plan. Traffic flows smoothly and efficiently. Bicycle/automobile conflicts are practically non-existent.

It is also a main route from Oak Bay into town. Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps may well dismiss Oak Bay’s concerns about losing this important artery, but she needs to realize that we are all part of Greater Victoria, multiple municipalities notwithstanding. Many, many people from professionals to service workers move efficiently into town along Richardson.

The limited presence of four-way stops rather than traffic lights (such as one meets all down Oak Bay and Fort/Pandora) also means far less exhaust pollution from cars idling at traffic lights.

And then there is the question of where all the rest of the cars will go when Richardson traffic is magically reduced to 500-1,000 cars per day.

While a few people who are physically able may suddenly feel empowered to jump on bicycles, the fact is that 1,800 to 2,800 cars will be expected to find an alternate route.

Fairfield Road is already very busy. It has several school and playground zones, requiring motorists to slow down repeatedly. This substantial increase in traffic creates very serious safety concerns with masses of commuters rushing to get to work. Rockland is quiet and winding and 30 km/h.

Or does the council expect this vast number of cars to use the quiet side streets, turning off and onto Richardson for its entire length? Why cannot the bicycles use the side streets and keep the motor traffic on Richardson, which handles it so well?

Even if one is in favour of the bike lane idea, the proposed lane arrangement will be dangerous for cyclists and automobiles alike.

I have been a devoted environmentalist my whole adult life. I would love to see a world without cars and pollution. But people are not going to magically stop driving to work.

This plan for Richardson will only cause problems by forcing cars onto quiet side streets, angering residents and drivers alike, increasing potential for accidents and not reducing pollution in the least.

My initial conversations with affected residents indicate that most people are not aware of what is actually being proposed. Consultation has been virtually non-existent and taxpayers are faced with an enormous expenditure which it is likely the majority of them would oppose if they were informed.

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