Pandora lane a chance for Victoria to get serious about bicycles

Bryna Hallam

UPDATE: Councillors have discarded the third option for Pandora, and will ask the public to weigh in on two options, both of which include traffic signal changes:

  • A two-way protected bike lane with traffic signal changes on the north side of Pandora Avenue.
  • A pair of protected bike lanes, including traffic signal changes, on Pandora Avenue and Johnson Street.

Kudos to councillors — and to those community members who spoke up on the issue.

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Public consultation on the project is set to start in April.

For more, information, read Bill Cleverley's story.

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We’re getting our first look at plans for Victoria’s big bike project, a protected lane on Pandora Avenue.

The lane would run from Cook Street to the Johnson Street Bridge. It is meant to be completely separated from traffic to provide a low-stress experience for people of all ages and abilities. The bike lane can be separated from traffic by raised curbs, bollards or even parked cars.

City staff prepared a report outlining three options for the project:

  1. Two-way protected bike lane - with signal traffic changes
  2. One-way protected bike lane - with traffic signal changes
  3. One-way protected bike lane - no changes to traffic signals

You can read more about the options here, in the staff report, and here, on the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition’s website.

I feel this is a good time to renew my sentiments about making Victoria a good place for people riding bikes.

The city has an opportunity to show real leadership here. But I fear it will choose the path of least resistance – in this case, the low-cost, politically safe Option 3. Councillors: Don’t do it.

The problem with Option 3 is laid out right there in the staff report: CONFLICT ZONES. (To a person on a bike, that means “place where you might get hit by a turning vehicle.”)

This option would not require separate signal phases, and conflict zones where right-turning car-drivers and people on bikes converge would be highlighted with road markings and signs.

Here's what that could look like. Big picture:

Pandora Avenue one-way protected bike lane

And the details:

Pandora Avenue one-way protected bicycle lane

Intersections like this are all around the city — anywhere there are bike lanes, actually, and even where they aren’t, where right-turning vehicles turn in front of or around bicycles that are travelling straight on. The key to a successful separated lane is keeping it separated, even at the intersections. The answer is straightforward: changes to the traffic signals.

You can see an example of that approach in Vancouver. It’s also what is being suggested, in part, for Option 1 and Option 2 in Victoria.

If council is serious about making Victoria a cycling city, about encouraging people of all ages and abilities to ride, this is the project to start with. A public consultation [PDF] period is likely to be coming up. Make sure your voice is heard.

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