Fort Street bike lane designs draw concern from businesses

A number of business owners are calling on the City of Victoria to put the brakes on building bike lanes on Fort Street.

A number of business owners are calling on the City of Victoria to put the brakes on building bike lanes on Fort Street, saying they were not properly consulted.

Bruce Gillespie, owner of Little Jumbo and a cyclist, expressed concerned with the overall design of the proposed two-way bike lanes on Fort Street and that the lanes could pose significant traffic and congestion problems in the area.

In December, staff presented mayor and council with designs for the bi-directional Fort Street bike lane, as part of the city’s multi-million-dollar project to implement an all ages cycling network by 2018. The first 1.2-kilometre protected bi-directional bike lane is currently being built along Pandora Avenue from Cook to Store streets and is expected to be complete by the spring.

The two-way bike lanes proposed for Fort Street would see the addition of raised medians, on-street bike parking, bollards and street furnishings to provide a protective barrier for users. However, the lane would bring the traffic down from two lanes to one between the 500 and 600 blocks on Fort, while 30 parking spots are expected to be lost as well.

“You take the street down to one lane, how does The Keg get supplied? How does Koto get supplied? Ourselves? To me, that’s the number one piece,” said Gillespie, noting he’s also expressed concern about loss of business while the lane is being constructed, noting he relies heavily on tourists in the downtown core in the summer months.

Gillespie has since started a petition calling on the city to put the brakes on the project until data can be collected from the bike lanes currently being built on Pandora Avenue on rider usage and its affect on businesses.

More than 100 business and property owners have signed the petition, which Gillespie hopes to present to council soon.

Robert Simon, who owns a business in the 600-block of Fort Street, is one of the people who signed the petition. He said the high volume of traffic that uses the corridor, such as shuttle services, double decker and transit buses, as well as people parallel parking on the street will create a bottle neck if the street is reduced to single lane lane traffic. That congestion could pose a problem should an emergency vehicle need to get by, he said.

Loss of parking is also an issue.

Jason Cridge, owner of the Cridge Family Pharmacy, said adding bike lanes at the expense of parking stalls will affect many of his vulnerable clients, such as seniors or people with disabilities, who are unable to walk far distances.

“Those people really depend on that parking to access those services,” Cridge said. “Things will be made harder for a group of people whose life is already hard.”

Businesses were quick to point out they are not against bike lanes on Fort Street, but hope the city will change the design of it once proper consultation is done. Gillespie would like to see uni-directional bike lanes on the right side of the road with flex posts.

Last week, the Downtown Victoria Business Association held a meeting with roughly 40 Fort Street business owners so they could express their concerns to city staff.

Coun. Margaret Lucas, the city’s liaison to the downtown, said consultation with businesses is just revving up and, through that process, staff can potentially make changes to the proposed bike lanes if necessary.

She noted council faced a similar backlash from businesses with the bike lane on Pandora Avenue, however, staff were able to make some changes to lessen the impact on businesses. Ultimately, approval of the bike lane designs is in the hands of council.

“It won’t matter where we put those bike lanes in the city, you’re going to get a lot of push back and concern. These are people’s businesses, their livelihood, it’s a major change, so we’ve got to listen to that,” Lucas said, adding she expects to see final designs for the Fort Street lanes presented in the next few months.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Trevor Davis, base manager of the Western Canada Marine Response Corporation in Sidney, stands in front of the Hecate Sentinal, an oil skimming vessel based at Sidney’s Van Isle Marina. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Oil spill response base taking shape on Saanich Peninsula

Enhanced base with elements in North Saanich and Sidney to be fully operational in fall 2022

The Santa’s Forest tree sale has taken place in the Braefoot Park lacrosse box every holiday season since 1996. (Photo courtesy Torsten Schulz)
Santa’s Forest tree sale in Saanich implements one-way perusing, curbside pick up

Christmas tree, wreath sales in Braefoot Park through Dec. 24

(Black Press Media file)
Webinars help Greater Victoria residents affected by dementia prepare for the holidays

COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions can add additional challenges for people living with dementia

Masks are mandatory for passengers on board BC Transit buses and for those waiting at covered bus stops. (BC Transit/Facebook)
Masks now mandatory on BC Transit buses, at covered bus stops

Face shields no longer meet face-covering requirements per updated policy

Mary Cox and Jack Plant dance in their pyjamas and slippers at the morning pyjama dance during the Rhythm Reelers’ 25 Annual Rally in the Valley Square Dance Festival in Chilliwack on June 4, 2011. Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 is Square Dancing Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Nov. 29 to Dec. 5

Square Dancing Day, Disability Day and International Ninja Day are all coming up this week

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

West Vancouver Island’s Ehattesaht First Nation continues lock down after 9 active cases were reported today after a visitor tested positive last week. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Ehattesaht First Nation’s COVID-19 nightmare: nine active cases, a storm and a power outage

The Vancouver Island First Nation in a lockdown since the first case was reported last week

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

Most Read