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More people cycling, more places, more often

Have your say on bike routes in James Bay

The City of Victoria has begun consultations on several All Ages and Abilities (AAA) cycling routes for the James Bay. When it comes to route route options, James Bay is probably the most changed neighbourhood in the city, hence the delay. Read on for some history and our thoughts. Then add your thoughts by March 28th to the city’s survey.

James Bay Routing in the past

This is not the first routing for James Bay, this could actually be argued it is third or fourth. The original Biketoria plan and the City’s first changes in 2016 showed the following networks – both focused on the Seaside Touring Route.

The original plan was criticized for not getting James Bay residents around their own community. So in 2017 and 2018 the James Bay Neighbourhood Association created two reports – Getting Around and Sharing our Streets – which proposed much of the network that the city is looking at today. You can see both plans on the JBNA’s Active Transportation Committee page.

Proposed routes from the Sharing our Streets

With that in mind, the city went to James Bay Neighbourhood Association (JBNA) in February 2020 to discuss alignment options. You can see the first tweet of our thread below (in the before times, when we could be in room with other people)

The 2021 routing options

With that history, we come to the 2021 routing options, which cover 2 proposed north/south routes, Government Street from Belleville to Dallas, and Montreal St/Dock St, while there is a choice of east/west route: Michigan Street or Superior Street. All the routes will be constructed in 2022.

Map of 2021 routing options, with removed routes shown

Government Street

Given its directness and connections, Government Street is ideal as a cycling connection.

To ensure safety and comfort for those cycling, Government St north of Superior Street to Wharf will feature separation of vehicles and bikes, while south of Superior Street will see traffic calming and speed limit reductions. In addition, vehicle traffic will be diverted southbound at Superior and northbound at government to reduce vehicle volumes.

  • We are not certain that traffic volumes can hit the key 500 cars/day needed for AAA and if not, protected bike lane portions will be needed.
  • More crosswalks are needed throughout the southern section for easier crossing for pedestrians.

Superior Street or Michigan Street?

For the east-west connection, there are two options: Superior St or Michigan St. Both have their disadvantages and advantages, although overall we prefer Superior St.

Superior St

Given the higher traffic volumes and speeds, Superior St will require a protected bike lane, compared to traffic calming and speed reductions proposed for Michigan St. Similar to Government St, it’s directness and connections to Fairfield and beyond make it an ideal cycling route.

Superior’s street’s wider right of way and many existing protected bike lane on the south side, plus it’s connection to destinations, make it overall the better option.

There are no plans to close the bike lane gap between Douglas and Government streets. Currently, there is an eastbound bike lane, with the westbound bike lane that begins well after the Douglas intersection. This gap needs to be addressed.

Superior St at Douglas facing west.

Michigan Street

Alternatively, the city could build on Michigan St with a largely shared street – traffic calming measures instead of a protected bike lane.

  • We are concerned that the measures traffic calming proposed are not sufficient to reduce vehicle volumes and speeds.
  • Advisory bike lanes are not All Ages and Abilities – the concept remains unproven on Humboldt St.
  • While the eastern terminus of the route connects to the multi-use trail in Beacon Hill Park, the trail meanders through the park and is not direct.
Michigan St by South Park Elementary, looking westbound towards Government. Despite high level of activity on this block, shared street is recommended instead of protected bike lanes.

We believe that Superior is the better option – it connects to more destinations.

Have your say below

You can fill out the online consultation and survey at this link.

All Images by Nevin Thompson, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

5 Comments

  1. I have cycled in Greater Victoria for 20 yrs and don’t see the need for these bike lanes. One because the streets in question are already too tight/narrow for existing traffic. Second there are perfectly good/adequate biking options around James Bay already. It’s not like a bike rider is going gain any time savings with these proposals.

    • A lot of people are excited about the James Bay routes – one of the top comments the GVCC gets is from people asking when the city will get to James Bay. And these routes cater to a much broader demographic than who already ride

  2. I agree with Dan. Plus our city council needs to be putting our tax $’s where they are needed and that will be remediating the parks. And they need to focus on what is a priority. Frankly, I can’t see that is bike lanes. And this is coming from an avid bike rider.

  3. The City of Victoria’s 4 year budget is over $1 billion.

    Between the city’s existing budget and grants from seniors levels of governments, and the need to get more people cycling to reduce our transportation GHG emissions (the highest source in the CRD), we need to keep building.

    Homelessness and a lack of federal/provincial investments in housing shouldn’t stop us from building more infrastructure.

    Building new infrastructure might seem unnecessary to experienced riders, but surveys show a plurality of people are interested in riding their bike more but are concerned about their safety.

  4. I agree with the sentiments expressed by Dan and Priscilla. This should not be a race to create the maximum AAA network as quickly as possible.

    If its an either/or and none is not an option for East/West in James Bay, Michigan Street gets my vote.