Protected bike lane grid pedalling into Victoria

Victoria city council's approval of the first protected bike lanes recently is just the beginning as they aim to build a network.

Victoria city council’s approval of the first protected bike lanes recently is just the beginning as they aim to build a network of bike lanes over the next three years.

Earlier this month, city council unanimously voted in favour of creating the city’s first two-way protected bike lane on the north side of Pandora Avenue. A total of 44 parking spaces between Store and Cook streets will be removed to accommodate the lanes.

The lane has an estimated price tag of $2.16 million and will connect to the Galloping Goose trail via the Johnson Street Bridge.

The protected bike lane was chosen over another option which would have created a one-way protected bike lane on Johnson Street.

Mayor Lisa Helps said this is the first of many protected bike lanes, as they city hopes to create a network of bike lanes.

“It’s the first to come of a network in the city,” said Helps. “What we’re going to be doing in the next few months in the fall is engaging the public on what a separated bike network would look like in the downtown core. What are the main routes that need protection and what is the way to create a network that is utterly connected so that there are no gaps.”

She noted they hope to begin building the network over the next three years.

The Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition believes the Pandora Avenue lanes won’t get much use until a comprehensive grid is established.

“You won’t necessarily see a flood of cyclists starting to use it because where does it go? You need connections,” said Edward Pullman, president of the coalition.

“Until we have a minimum grid or a comprehensive grid of protected bike lanes, that’s when we’re going to see a large increase. There’s no question we’ll see more people riding on the Pandora protected bike lane when it’s done, but we’re not going to see the full benefits of it until we have a minimum grid completed.”

Pullman said future protected lanes should connect to major employment and regional centres, such as the University of Victoria and Camosun College as well.

Wharf, Government, Vancouver or Cook streets could be strong contenders for the city’s next protected bike lanes, he added.

“Victoria is moving reasonably quickly and we’re hopeful that the rest of the region, like Saanich in particular, but also Oak Bay and Esquimalt will follow Victoria’s lead and begin looking at their own protected bike lane networks and how they can connect them to Victoria’s with the goal of large increases in cycling ridership in the next five to 10 years,” said Pullman.

Construction on the Pandora Avenue bike lane is expected to begin in the fall and could be finished in spring 2016.