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Victoria school thrilled as $11.7M in bike lanes, traffic elements coming to Fort Street

The busy corridor is getting revamped with safety additions from Cook Street to Oak Bay
A cyclist rides down the Fort Street protected bike lanes in the late morning on April 14. Victoria is expanding the protected AAA bike lanes on Fort Street from Cook Street to Foul Bay Road in 2023. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)

New protected bike lanes and more traffic signals are coming to a busy crosstown corridor in Victoria as officials said the work will keep kids and all road users safer.

A construction project expected to take a total of 10 months is beginning on a 2.7-kilometre stretch of Fort Street from Cook Street to Foul Bay Road.

That work includes expanding the All Ages and Abilities (AAA) protected cycling network with two-way bike lanes between Cook and Harrison streets before dropping down to a single protected path the rest of the way to Foul Bay. Updated and new traffic signals plus bike and pedestrian crossings are also coming for several spots along the construction route.

“We heard significant support for improved safety on Fort Street during public engagement for the AAA cycling network,” Mayor Marianne Alto said in a statement. “This project delivers essential updates and safety features for all road users.”

The $11.7-million project is mostly funded through Victoria’s reserves for road paving and traffic signal upgrades, charges that developers pay to the city and the federal government’s Canada Active Transportation Fund, with each of those allocating about $3.7 million.

The section of Fort that will see the work sees drivers leaving downtown rushing down the two-lane street for less than a kilometre before kids need to cross to get to and from Central Middle School. The stretch just outside the school also sees the left lane suddenly become a turning lane in the same spot parents must peel out to the right when leaving Central’s drop-off zone.

The work will include upgrading the existing traffic signal and crossing used by students at Moss Street and will add a new signal, lighting and a pedestrian crossing immediately after at Fernwood Road.

The left slip lane that allows drivers to turn onto Yates Street is also set to be removed and replaced with a public plaza, a crossing with flashing lights and electric vehicle charging stations. Removing the slip lane allows the city to repurpose the space for the flashing-light pedestrian and cyclist crossings at Yates and Fort, Victoria spokesperson Colleen Mycroft said.

The city installing a covered bike parking shelter at Central will provide a much-needed addition for its active community, the school said.

“We are thrilled to have a safer way for our students, teachers and staff to get to school,” said Central’s principal Gillian Braun.

The city said as a national leader in mode share, it’s “committed to expanding high-quality cycling infrastructure to take action on climate change and provide transportation options for residents.” It highlighted how the infrastructure creates a safer link to Oak Bay and that it connects neighbourhoods to employment areas like the city’s hospital.

Island Health’s medical health officer Dr. Michael Benusic said many staff already cycle to Royal Jubilee Hospital and the improvements will encourage more employees to ride and walk more often.

“Re-designing streets to support active mobility provides health and safety benefits for decades to come,” Benusic said in a news release.

New protected bike lanes and other traffic infrastructure elements like signals and crosswalks are coming to Fort Street between Cook Street to Foul Bay Road in 2023. (Courtesy of the City of Victoria)
New protected bike lanes and other traffic infrastructure elements like signals and crosswalks are coming to Fort Street between Cook Street to Foul Bay Road in 2023. (Courtesy of the City of Victoria)

READ: Greater Victoria residents more likely to cycle to work than other Canadians

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Jake Romphf

About the Author: Jake Romphf

In early 2021, I made the move from the Great Lakes to Greater Victoria with the aim of experiencing more of the country I report on.
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