The All Ages and Abilities bike network is gearing up for next phase

The Wharf street section of the All Ages and Abilities bike network in Victoria is getting closer to completion, and the city of Victoria is getting ready for the next stages of the network.

The City of Victoria believes the two way protected bike lanes, which will allow for safer travel for cyclists, will be complete in late July, and open to the public in August.  The new lane will connect the Fort and Pandora lanes to Wharf street, creating a safe network for cyclists.

The lanes stretch from the Johnson Street Bridge on Pandora avenue, down Wharf street and past the tourism information centre, and up past the Empress on Humbolt street, where it will end on Douglas. 

Victoria's Manager of Sustainable Transportation, Planning and Development, Sarah Webb, says the protected lane will end at the corner of Douglas and Humbolt, where it will become a "shared road."

"This is the first time that we've got one of these shared road facilities, in the sense that we're targeting low vehicle speeds, low vehicle volumes, to be able to create a comfortable place.  So we're not going to actually see protected bike lanes on Humbolt, you're going to see new traffic calming and road configurations, paint markings and signage, to really encourage a shared road."

She adds protected bike lanes are great in areas with high traffic volume and speeds, like in the downtown core, but aren't necessary in other areas.  Webb adds that although it may seem like the protected bike lanes will be a hinder to traffic, especially first responders, they are actually working with the emergency responders, who have access to the bike lanes if they get stuck in traffic.

"They're built to have bollards that are collapsible, specifically for it.  The curb design allows their wheels to go over.  What we're really trying to do is make sure our integrated street-scape meets all needs, and that includes emergency responders."

Webb says they are also upgrading the plaza in front of the tourist information centre, putting in new bicycle parking, seating and trees.  The intersection is also being upgraded and reconfigured to allow new vehicle movements, allowing traffic to flow in all directions, and a new scrambled crosswalk.

"So what a pedestrian scramble is, is a time in which all movements besides pedestrians are held back.  So pedestrians can move in any direction.  They can cross North South, they can cross East West, or even diagonally if they choose.  These exist in a number of cities, and really it's about that right design element with high pedestrian and vehicle numbers."

She says the intersection upgrades will be completed at the same time as the bike lanes.

Meanwhile, the city is moving forward with the next stage of the bike network, the Vancouver Street bike lanes.  The city has been engaging the public with open houses, online surveys, walking tours, and pop ups in the community, in order to find the best designs for that route. 

Webb says the route, which runs from Dallas Road, where a new offroad protected bike lane will be opening in 2020, through Beacon Hill, up Vancouver, all the way to Bay Street.

"Now the design for Vancouver  is an interesting one.  We're really accommodating the varied land uses and typologies that exist on Vancouver.  So it's a shared road facility going from Dallas Road all the way up to Muir Street.  So no bike lanes, traffic calming, traffic diversion, lower speed limits, really focused on creating a nice experience in a shared road."

She adds that there will improved crossings, and newly painted lines, and work on the route will begin in the late fall.

There are two other projects in the works as well, a bike lane on Harbour Road to connect the Galloping Goose and the Johnson Street Bridge, and a Hillside-Quadra route.

An intersection on Vancouver and Bay will be upgraded, to allow pedestrians and cyclists to cross, where the route will be diverted onto Graham Street.  She says this gives them an option for what to do with the route when it gets to Hillside.

"One takes you up Graham and up the Jackson Street all the way to Tolmie Avenue in Saanich.  The other one goes up Graham and up 5th Street, all the way to Tolmie Avenue in Saanich.  And then the other two are going up Graham and 5th, and deeking west out to Topaz Park, and going through Topaz Park across Finlayson, and getting to Tolmie Avenue on that other side."

She says the preferred route would take 5th Street, but it would need to cut through Quadra Elementary, which is not ideal.

"So we're out there right now talking with parents, teachers, and administrators, saying 'You know, there's a public pathway through this space right now.  It's not working, it's not ideal.  We say parents and kids crossing the street at Finlayson and 5th, we see kids biking on the sidewalk.  Is there a design solution that could work here?  How can we make this be something that improves safety, keeps that recreation space for kids, while also being a part of the network?'"

Webb says they will continue to work out a solution, and hope to begin work on the next stages of the All Ages and Abilities bike network in the fall.


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