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Vast cycling upgrades on the horizon

The City of Victoria hopes that a proposed upgrade to bike routes will triple the amount of residents cycling to work.

The top priorities for the “bicycle master plan” are two east-west routes along Pandora and Johnson streets, each projected to cost $1.3 million. The routes would run from Store Street to Cook Street, with planned upgrades including separating the bike lanes from traffic, which Coun. Ben Isitt said is the key to getting non-cyclists on the lanes.

While the highest estimate of regular cyclists is 11 per cent, Isitt said that the city’s current goal is to have 30 per cent of Victorians riding regularly.

Another upgrade, proposed by the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition, is creating a two-way lane across Pandora Street. The city is currently looking at this option, though not every councillor is in favour.

“It just seems unnatural to be riding the wrong way on a one-way street,” councillor Geoff Young said. “It could be dangerous for pedestrians, who are used to looking one way before crossing the street. Drivers often look one way before turning as well, and there would be extra costs for traffic signals.”

Young said that the cost of the project, along with reduced road or parking space for vehicles, is likely to draw criticism from drivers.

“A lot of drivers think they own the road, but funds are coming from general revenues — property taxes, not gas taxes — so it’s based on where you live, not what you drive,” Young said.

Young also noted that complaints regarding the Fort Street bike lane died down once drivers realized their commute times were barely affected, and that adding turning bays would limit the impact for drivers.

Four more routes were included in the plan, including Vancouver Street, Bay Street, Shelbourne Street and Wharf Street, which would be implemented between 2015 and 2019 pending approval.

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