The Galloping Goose, here seen near the Trans-Canada Highway overpass, is one of the few cycling trails that approach the status of AAA, truly comfortable enough for all ages and abilities (AAA). Travis Paterson/News Staff

Infrastructure key to promoting bike use in Saanich

If you build it, they will come.

That is the message from Corey Burger, policy and infrastructure chair, with the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition.

Burger said new census data released last week shows new bike infrastructure matters. “Some of the highest growth areas were where we saw lots of new bike infrastructure in the past five years,” he said. “One of those areas was in eastern Saanich around the [University of Victoria], where Saanich built the new McKenzie and Shelbourne bike lanes, as well as many small improvements. We also saw that where infrastructure hasn’t been built, biking is flat or falling.”

Data released last week shows Greater Victoria a national leader in sustainable transportation, which Statistics Canada defines as “modes of transportation that have a smaller net impact on the environment or transportation infrastructure than cars and heavy trucks, or a near‑zero net impact.” They include public transit, car-pooling, as well as forms of active transportation, such as walking and cycling.

According to figures, just under 39 per cent of 170,830 employed commuters in the Victoria Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) use sustainable forms of transportation. A total of 10.9 per cent of commuters in 2016 rode public transit. Eleven per cent car-pooled. Just over 10 per cent walked to work, while another 6.6 per cent of commuters cycled.

But these regional numbers vary across communities, with the share of active commuters (those who walk or bike) dropping further out from the region’s urban core.

Consider the City of Victoria. Of its 42,965 commuters, 23.3 per cent walk to work, while another 11.1 per cent cycle. These rates drop off significantly in Saanich, where about 6.3 per cent of residents walk or cycle to work, a figure below the national average of seven per cent. These rates are even lower in West Shore communities.

Saanich, said Burger, only slightly lags behind the regional average (6.6 per cent) when it comes to cycling, and ahead of the provincial (2.5 per cent) and national (1.4 per cent) averages. Saanich actually ranks among the Top 10 municipalities in Canada, when it comes to cycling to work.

This said, Burger acknowledges that Saanich lags behind Victoria, Esquimalt and Oak Bay. Several reasons account for this fact, he said. They include among others post-war suburb land-use, which did not tend to be very bike-friendly. Trip distances in rural Saanich also make biking a less competitive choice, he added. He also added that Statistics Canada exclusively measured work trips.

“Because they don’t ask about mode for other trips, such as trips to school, you aren’t seeing UVic and Camosun students pushing up the bike numbers,” said Burger. “Contrast the census data with CRD bike count data, where locations near UVic can be as busy downtown or near [Canadian Forces’ Base] Esquimalt.”

While Saanich has come a long way, more needs to be done, he said. Much of the infrastructure installed over the last 25 years isn’t truly comfortable enough for all ages and abilities (AAA), nor does it form a complete network, he said. “We know people will bike if the right infrastructure is in place,” he said. “We see that with the regional trails. Although not quite AAA, they are the closest we have in the region and they form a relatively connected network.”

Other growth areas over the past five years include the E&N Rail Trail, from [Victoria] West all the way through to eastern Colwood where it and the Galloping Goose form a single trail, said Burger.

“We’ve also started to see both AAA bikeways and gap closure accelerate in the past few years,” he said. “Examples include the new protected bike lane on Borden Street (which also closed a gap in the Lochside Regional Trail) or Pandora Ave downtown [Victoria].”

Saanich has also launched a number of initiatives to improve local cycling networks, with set-backs along the way.

 

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

Just Posted

Greater Victoria real estate sales numbers tell two stories for July

Real estate board president Sandi-Jo Ayers talks about pent-up spring demand, low inventory

Downtown Victoria’s on-street parking time limits, rates back in effect

City reinstates restrictions, extends reduced rates for parkades and other metered areas

Teachers need more time to prepare for fall reopening, says Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association

GVTA president says class schedules need to be reworked for cohort model

Turf replacement installed at Oak Bay High

New Astroturf will be ready for school, sports still cancelled

View Royal mayor victimized in CERB identity theft scam

David Screech shocked to find his CRA account was accessed, his banking information changed

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Aug. 4

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Should it be mandatory to wear masks when out in public?

B.C. is witnessing an alarming rise in the number of cases of… Continue reading

VIDEO: B.C. conservation officers free not-so-wily coyote with head stuck in jar

Poor pup was found with a glass jar stuck on its head in Maple Ridge

‘Do our lives count for less?’: COVID-19 exposes cracks in disability aid

In July, Parliament approved a $600 payment for people with disabilities facing additional expenses during COVID-19

Agreement between province, BC Hydro, First Nation, ends legal fight over Site C

B.C. will work to improve land management and restore traditional place names in areas of cultural significance

Investigators still hoping to solve 2015 homicide of Penelakut Island woman

Tips being sought into Penelakut Island woman’s death five years ago

B.C. doctors, dentists call on province for mandatory mask rule

Open letter says masks should be worn in indoor public spaces, public transportation or in crowds

Dwindling B.C. bamboo supply leaves Calgary Zoo biologists worried about pandas

Zoo has been trying to send pandas back to China since May

Most Read