Design ideas for Esquimalt Road draw concern from cyclists

Ideas include moving bike lanes to Lyall Street to allow wider sidewalks

Design ideas for Esquimalt Road draw concern from cyclists

When it comes to sprucing up Esquimalt Road, mayor Barb Desjardins has a lot of questions for citizens of the township.

She’s heard the busy road needs lipstick, but has yet to hear what the lipstick entails. Is it benches and artwork? How wide should pedestrian corridors be? Should buildings come right up to the sidewalk? What kind of density is reasonable?

But as the township embarks upon a public consultation process to answer such questions and develop a set of design guidelines, one idea is already generating plenty of public attention — moving bike lanes to Lyall Street, which was identified as a cycling corridor during a study several years ago.

“There’s a lot of competition for the same space…The reality is we have this immensely wide street on Lyall that really, based on its width, provides significant safety for cyclists,” said Desjardins, who’s already received some push back from the public about the idea of moving the bike lanes, which would allow wider sidewalks on Esquimalt Road.

“The cycling community is passionate and we value cycling. We don’t want the topic to take over the greater focus and so I’m hoping there’s a balance and I’m really not wanting it to be at this point confrontational because it shouldn’t be.”

According to a township report, the issue of the state of Esquimalt Road came up over and over again during the Economic Development Strategy round table discussions in 2014/15. Many residents also expressed concern about the state of the road, so council eventually hired a consultant from Vancouver to help develop a set of design guidelines that will help address a myriad of issues.

Some of the issues identified thus far include conflicts between cars, bikes, buses, trucks and pedestrians, limited on-street parking, inconsistent building heights or setbacks, older buildings that are candidates for redevelopment, no pedestrian lighting, irregularly spaced and uncoordinated street lighting, and narrow sidewalks.

Some sidewalks along the road are only about four feet, noted Desjardins, and have buildings stacked up against them.

An open house is being held Wednesday night (Jan. 18) to gather feedback from the public on some of the ideas being floated. The feedback will be presented to council at a later date. More public forums are likely on the way before any final decisions are made.

“Things have changed considerably. We want to move on with the times,” said Desjardins about the road. “The community is being asked to come out and provide their thoughts on what they want to see for Esquimalt Road, what’s important to them and some solutions or options have been thrown into that mix to create dialogue.”

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