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Bike lane funding in Victoria, Esquimalt a good first step: advocates

Cyclist Ryan Mijker with son, Ilya, 2, looks for an opening to safely join traffic on Cook Street last summer. Cyclists will gain some breathing room on several roads around Victoria and Esquimalt, thanks to an injection of cash announced by the province this week. - Sharon Tiffin/News staff
Cyclist Ryan Mijker with son, Ilya, 2, looks for an opening to safely join traffic on Cook Street last summer. Cyclists will gain some breathing room on several roads around Victoria and Esquimalt, thanks to an injection of cash announced by the province this week.
— image credit: Sharon Tiffin/News staff

Allotting funds to create more bike lanes in the Capital Region is a good first step, advocates say, but more needs to be done to comply with the CRD’s long-term cycling plan.

On Tuesday, the province committed $765,000 for intersection improvements along the E&N Rail Trail, running next to the rail bed between Esquimalt and Admirals roads.

The City of Victoria will receive about $48,000, or 50 per cent of the funding needed to paint bike lanes along Pandora Avenue (from Oak Bay Avenue  to Cook Street), on Johnson Street (from Cook Street to its intersection with Begbie Street) and Begbie to Shelbourne Street.

But Victoria and the Capital Region still have a long way to go before it can boast a cycling infrastructure similar to Vancouver, said Edward Pullman, Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition president.

“It’s just going to be paint on the road in Victoria. It’s not a physical separation, so it’s essentially just a little bit of passing space,” he said.

The Victoria bike lanes will connect downtown with destinations near Royal Jubilee Hospital, with the long-term plan to connect to Oak Bay, said Brad Dellebuur, Victoria’s transportation manager.

The city is still in the “skeleton building stage,” he said. Staff are just starting to look at ways to comply with the region’s master cycling plan, which calls for more separated, buffered bike lanes.

“The difficult part for us, generally, is we have limited right of way in the municipality,” Dellebuur said. “You don’t have a lot of space to play with in terms of design.”

Better cycling infrastructure actually benefits drivers with no other option for commuting to the downtown core, he added. “Long-term, the more cyclists you have on the corridor, it benefits those people who have to still drive their vehicle because it means there are fewer cars on the road.”

The Cycling Coalition is currently lobbying Capital Region municipalities on the economic benefits of increased bike infrastructure.

dpalmer@vicnews.com

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