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The GVCC has some thoughts on the Biketoria report. Read ’em here!

The GVCC has some thoughts on the Biketoria report. Read ’em here!

The GVCC submitted a letter to Victoria City Council in response to their consultants report.

 

Council will be voting on the Biketoria plan this Thursday! There’s still time to sign our Biketoria petition and to send a letter to Council telling them what Biketoria means to you. This is the full version of our letter:

 

Mayor and Council,

We are very pleased to see the Biketoria network plan brought to City Council for approval. Biketoria’s identification of Victoria’s first protected bike lanes and related network improvements signal a major leap forward for active transportation in Victoria.

Overall Comments

The consultants’ report provides a detailed blueprint and robust rationale for a complete city-wide bicycle network – fulfilling City Council’s aims for an ambitious bike plan tailor-made for Victoria. The staff report and recommendations supports the consultant’s report in most respects, including proceeding with phase 1 routes downtown as the ‘Hub’ of an All Ages and Abilities bicycle network. Together, both reports represent a very good start towards a bold bike plan for Victoria.

Developing a downtown minimum grid, as outlined in Phase 1, is a critical first step. However, we still have a ways to go before completing an All-Ages and Abilities bicycle network connecting all neighbourhoods and village centres, as outlined in the city’s Strategic Plan.

Until the network links to surrounding neighbourhoods are complete, we will likely not see a significant increase in trips by bike across Victoria. The City should proceed as soon as possible on phases 2, 3 and 4, including specific timelines (not currently outlined in the staff report), and additional staff resources for planning and implementation. Supportive and complementary investments are necessary to undertake spot improvements and ‘gap fixes’ in the current network, wayfinding, bicycle parking, street calming and facility maintenance. Also important will be promotional initiatives to educate and encourage new riders.

Specific Comments on Select Routes

We strongly support the consultants’ recommendation to continue the Cook Street bike lane north of Pandora Ave. We suggest that Council specifically note and review figure 13 in the staff report, and suggest it be amended to reflect the consultant’s recommendations (p. 60-61; 112-117).

In our view, Cook Street best meets the design principles of the Biketoria network: it connects shopping, schools and health services. It provides the best network connections, and city wide linkages south to Dallas Road and points north such as Haultain St. As well, the new preferred design option for Cook St. Village bike lanes retains almost all the current parking, while providing serviceable bike lanes. Sharing this design option earlier with local businesses, stakeholders and community leaders may have addressed some of the earlier concerns about the impact of bike lanes in Cook St. Village.

While the Vancouver St. routing appears attractive in some respects, it comes with considerable challenges – few of which are acknowledged in the staff report. A high-quality bike facility (AAA) on the north segment of Vancouver St. would require new signal lights at Caledonia and Bay St., and difficult, awkward connections to Bay and Haultain intersections. As well, significant parking removal would also be required, much of it currently used by hundreds of local residents with few other options. Vancouver St. may be the more expensive option, and motor vehicle traffic on Vancouver would be pushed to Cook and Quadra.

The staff report has identified five corridor segments as “requiring additional consideration” including sections of Oak Bay Ave, Cook St. and Government St. as well as Belleville St (p. 9 of staff report). While each of those sections have unique design issues and specific challenges to properly address and mitigate, we are concerned that linking design solutions and consultations to local area plans or other initiatives will significantly delay effective completion of those routes. Consideration of these routes should adhere to the hierarchy of transportation priorities in the City’s Official Community Plan (p. 8).

We understand these and other routes in Phases 2-4 need additional consultation and design work, and look forward to providing constructive input, and working with City staff on future improvements.

Recommendations

We recommend that Council:

  1. Request staff develop an accelerated implementation timeline for phase 1 with the goal of having as many routes as possible completed by the end of 2017
  2. Request staff accelerate the consultation, design assessments and mitigation measures for the “Network Segments Requiring Additional Consideration” as outlined in the Report (Figure 3). Specifically, efforts should be made to pursue solutions for Cook St north of Pandora, Government St between Humboldt and Yates, and the Harbour Edge segment.
  3. Ask staff to determine specific timelines for the implementation of phases 2, 3 and 4 of the network, and quickly seek senior government funding to expedite the completion of the full Biketoria plan.
  4. Consider hiring additional staff to ensure the efficient delivery of the Biketoria network, as well as ongoing spot improvements and supportive measures (promotion, parking, wayfinding) that ensure safe, comfortable and bike-friendly city streets. The GVCC thanks Council, staff and the consultant team for their work on this critical effort to create a truly bike-friendly city. We look forward to providing the city with additional input at every stage of the Biketoria design and build.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments!

One Comment

  1. Quote- the new preferred design option for Cook St. Village bike lanes retains almost all the current parking, while providing serviceable bike lanes.

    I understand that the current plan will ELIMINATE more than 30 parking spots as well as the centre Left Turn lane, currently used as a drop-off and standing zone for large supply vehicles in the village. Further, when pressed regarding the loss of this delivery area, Her Worship Mayor Helps stated that the delivery issue would be “solved” by replacing “some” of the remaining parking stalls with commercial loading zones.

    As this informationn (learned today, May 4) appears to be in direct opposition to your assurance that the Cook Street Village will “retain almost all” of it’s current parking, please explain how you understand this will happen.

    Thank you