Eight years after Oak Bay prepared and adopted a 64-page Active Transportation Strategy, residents are still waiting for the part-time limitations of the bike lane on Henderson Road to be lifted.
In Victoria, bike lanes are going in fast and furious as the council looks to create a city core that supports sustainable and safe transit.
Yet Mark Stephenson, who bikes Henderson Road each day on his commute to the finance department at the university, is wondering when Oak Bay council will act on one of the simpler recommendations in the Active Transportation Strategy.
Henderson Road has bike lanes that ban parking from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Monday to Friday. But not all commuters are home before 7 p.m., said Stephenson.
“It’s fine in the morning but it definitely doesn’t feel safe at night, when it’s dark, and I have to swerve into traffic to get around parked cars,” he said. “People also go to the university on the weekend, when the bike lane is closed, for all kinds of reasons.”
Stephenson’s question is, when will council be implementing some of the key 2011 transportation guide recommendations, such as eliminating the bike lane restriction on Henderson.
The 2011 plan recommends that the time restriction be eliminated on the Henderson Road/Foul Bay Road route and the lanes made available to cyclists at all times. It supports this with a suggestion that the adjacent properties have sufficient off-street parking and additional parking is available on side streets as needed.
“When I ride through at night, there’s only a few cars parked on the road anyways, and there’s ample parking on the side streets, just like the strategy plan says,” added Stephenson. “By parking cars on the street, we are subsidizing garages as additional storage space.”
Corey Burger of the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition recalls the introduction of the part-time lane, made years previously, as a “Made in Oak Bay” compromise by Mayor Chris Causton and the council of the day.
“They disappear right when people need them the most: when it’s dark,” Burger said.
Longtime Oak Bay cycling advocate Jane van Hoorn was part of the group that pushed for the Henderson lane and was frustrated when Oak Bay defended car parking over evening and weekend use of the bike lane.
“It never should have been part time, no one else does that,” she said.
With Victoria’s bike network rolling along, Oak Bay needs to a plan to create a AAA bikeway network of its own that can link up with Victoria’s, Burger said.
As an interim measure, council could remove the part-time status of both of these lanes with a simple motion next week, he noted.
Mayor Kevin Murdoch says council does take the Active Transportation Strategy seriously and will consider some of these recommendations as priorities for the 2020 strategic plan they are finalizing in the new year.
But he also pointed out Oak Bay is limited as a municipality in how many infrastructure plans it can take on at a time.
“It is a strange and unusual hybrid [bike lane] and we will look at it again,” Murdoch said. “It’s on our list of things to consider, it has not been dropped, it’s in there with all the other priorities.”
Murdoch added the municipality is dealing with some big stuff with the sub-ground storm and sewer pipe replacement underway.