A new shared transit and bike lane raises safety concerns for cyclists.

A new shared transit and bike lane raises safety concerns for cyclists.

Cyclists question safety of bike and transit lane

A new priority transit and bike lane on Douglas Street raises safety concerns for cyclists.

Construction of BC Transit’s new transit and cycling priority northbound lane on Douglas Street from Hillside to Tolmie avenues has some people questioning the benefit to cyclists.

The added third lane will be designated for buses and cyclists from Monday to Friday, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said she sees the project as a success in terms of transit, but still does not think Douglas Street is ideal for cyclists since there is not a designated bike lane.

“One of the things that needs more thought is where the appropriate place is for cyclists in and out of our downtown in a north, south kind of way, and I’m not convinced that is is Douglas Street,” said Helps. “I think we’ve got more work to do on bicycles, but I don’t think that’s BC Transit’s responsibility – that’s the city’s responsibility.”

Edward Pullman, president of the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition, said the added lane on Douglas will be a slight improvement, but he does not expect the number of cyclists along that route to significantly increase because there is not a protected bike lane.

“The vehicle speed and the traffic volumes on a road like Douglas dictate that you need high quality facilities that physically separate motorists and cyclists,” said Pullman. “While we’re happy to have the marginal improvement of the shared bus and bike lane . . . if you want to attract riders of all ages and all abilities, then what is needed [are] protected facilities.”

If such facilities were in place, Pullman said commuter cyclists may be more likely to take Douglas.

“It would be a very popular route if there was a better degree of cycling infrastructure on the route.”

Bev Highton, chair of the CRD Business and Residential Taxpayers’ Association, is concerned about the safety of cyclists having to share the lane with buses.

“It doesn’t strike me as being a marriage made in heaven,” said Highton. “I’m thinking of a bicyclist riding in a lane behind a bus, [then] the bus stops, what does [the cyclist] do? Do [they] veer around the bus into traffic to get by it, or jump onto the sidewalk?”

The new northbound lane is expected to be complete by late spring, early summer.