I recently attended a City of Victoria presentation of planned cycling infrastructure along Haultain Street, as well as other locations in our fair city. I shall restrict my comments to Haultain, which is where my family lives.
We observe daily a great number of bicycles on our accommodating street. We do not see accidents involving cyclists along this route, and we’ve been here for 20 years. So I was quite surprised to hear that the city has plans for our street to further enhance the cycling experience.
As any of you living in our neighbourhood well know, Haultain has been closed to east-west vehicular traffic at Shelbourne Street, and also at Richmond Road, for many years.
Colour me surprised to learn that the Shelbourne part of the new plan is to reduce cut-over traffic at Shelbourne — which means an intention to close Haultain at Shelbourne to east-west vehicular traffic. This is hilarious, given that that closure has existed for many years.
Did this group not look at this intersection before devising this plan?
The most outrageous part of this proposed plan, however, is an intention to close Haultain to east-west vehicular traffic at Fernwood Road, and to close Cedar Hill Road to cut-over vehicular traffic where it joins Fernwood.
This suggests that those avenues to the north will be extinguished for those living in our immediate neighbourhood. We will be obligated, when wanting to go north, to circle around the blocks that will take us to either Cook Street or Shelbourne Street for travel to the north.
This means additional travel distance for any vehicles that have used Fernwood as a route to Cedar Hill and anywhere to the north.
We can’t see how this enhances bicycle safety, as east-west traffic is already quite modest on Haultain, due to the existing closures at Shelbourne and Richmond. We do know this plan is ridiculous when it obligates vehicles to go additional distances to bypass the so-called improvements.
The additional enhancement proposed is for painted bicycle lanes to be added. I asked where they would be painted and was told they would be painted “in the middle of the street.” I find this almost ridiculous — a waste of taxpayer money, and totally unnecessary. We think a cyclist is very well able to discover the safest route upon which to ride, and does not require the city to map out silly painted stripes all over our street.
We like bicycles, we own a couple of them, and use them quite regularly on our street. We know this to be a safe route, with quite modest traffic. We find the cycling plan to be quite ridiculous when it distils itself to a hijacking of vehicular routes.
We further lament this council’s misguided preoccupation with all things bicycle. We lament the narrowing of driving lane widths throughout our city, and note that painted bicycle lanes often have an additional buffer lane to squeeze those driving lanes even narrower. We know that these driving lanes are no longer wide enough for our buses and for commercial trucks.
We lament bicycle priority at traffic lights, particularly as it pertains to left-turning vehicular traffic. This serves to back up vehicular traffic while bicycles are given priority. Common sense would suggest it better to clear left-turning vehicles first, preventing a back-up blockage of the left lane vehicles.
Finally, it would be nice to see some actual numbers to support this planning. I would like to see vehicle counts alongside bicycle counts on all of these enhancement routes. I don’t see a majority of cyclists anywhere on our roads.
We have owned an electric car for almost two years now. We do not run over bicycles, and afford them the respect they are due.
We lament the city’s delusional belief that all of our citizens can be converted to bicycle and bus use only in our city. Until the city actually has a rapid-transit solution to traffic, our roads will be increasing required to service an increasing population, the majority of whom wish to maintain personal-transportation vehicles.
Just ask them!
Dave Vogel lives and cycles on Haultain Street.