Infrastructure key to promoting bike use in Saanich

The Galloping Goose, here seen near the Trans-Canada Highway overpass, is one of the few cycling trails that approach the status of AAA, truly comfortable enough for all ages and abilities (AAA). Travis Paterson/News Staff

If you build it, they will come.

That is the message from Corey Burger, policy and infrastructure chair, with the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition.

Burger said new census data released last week shows new bike infrastructure matters. “Some of the highest growth areas were where we saw lots of new bike infrastructure in the past five years,” he said. “One of those areas was in eastern Saanich around the [University of Victoria], where Saanich built the new McKenzie and Shelbourne bike lanes, as well as many small improvements. We also saw that where infrastructure hasn’t been built, biking is flat or falling.”

Data released last week shows Greater Victoria a national leader in sustainable transportation, which Statistics Canada defines as “modes of transportation that have a smaller net impact on the environment or transportation infrastructure than cars and heavy trucks, or a near‑zero net impact.” They include public transit, car-pooling, as well as forms of active transportation, such as walking and cycling.

According to figures, just under 39 per cent of 170,830 employed commuters in the Victoria Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) use sustainable forms of transportation. A total of 10.9 per cent of commuters in 2016 rode public transit. Eleven per cent car-pooled. Just over 10 per cent walked to work, while another 6.6 per cent of commuters cycled.

But these regional numbers vary across communities, with the share of active commuters (those who walk or bike) dropping further out from the region’s urban core.

Consider the City of Victoria. Of its 42,965 commuters, 23.3 per cent walk to work, while another 11.1 per cent cycle. These rates drop off significantly in Saanich, where about 6.3 per cent of residents walk or cycle to work, a figure below the national average of seven per cent. These rates are even lower in West Shore communities.

Saanich, said Burger, only slightly lags behind the regional average (6.6 per cent) when it comes to cycling, and ahead of the provincial (2.5 per cent) and national (1.4 per cent) averages. Saanich actually ranks among the Top 10 municipalities in Canada, when it comes to cycling to work.

This said, Burger acknowledges that Saanich lags behind Victoria, Esquimalt and Oak Bay. Several reasons account for this fact, he said. They include among others post-war suburb land-use, which did not tend to be very bike-friendly. Trip distances in rural Saanich also make biking a less competitive choice, he added. He also added that Statistics Canada exclusively measured work trips.

“Because they don’t ask about mode for other trips, such as trips to school, you aren’t seeing UVic and Camosun students pushing up the bike numbers,” said Burger. “Contrast the census data with CRD bike count data, where locations near UVic can be as busy downtown or near [Canadian Forces’ Base] Esquimalt.”

While Saanich has come a long way, more needs to be done, he said. Much of the infrastructure installed over the last 25 years isn’t truly comfortable enough for all ages and abilities (AAA), nor does it form a complete network, he said. “We know people will bike if the right infrastructure is in place,” he said. “We see that with the regional trails. Although not quite AAA, they are the closest we have in the region and they form a relatively connected network.”

Other growth areas over the past five years include the E&N Rail Trail, from [Victoria] West all the way through to eastern Colwood where it and the Galloping Goose form a single trail, said Burger.

“We’ve also started to see both AAA bikeways and gap closure accelerate in the past few years,” he said. “Examples include the new protected bike lane on Borden Street (which also closed a gap in the Lochside Regional Trail) or Pandora Ave downtown [Victoria].”

Saanich has also launched a number of initiatives to improve local cycling networks, with set-backs along the way.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Canadian warship HCMS Regina sails past Sidney

The vessel recently returned from the world’s largest naval exercise

Wildfire smoke expected to blanket Greater Victoria again

Conditions expected to worsen Wednesday afternoon but not approach levels reached a few weeks ago

‘Bonnie’ and ‘Henry’ among latest litter of service dog puppies

B.C. Alberta Guide Dogs names two pups after provincial health officer

Reader photos: Sun rises and sets over Oak Bay

Sunrise from an early morning yoga session at Oak Bay Beach Hotel… Continue reading

Former Victoria Royals manager celebrates Stanley Cup win

Grant Armstrong is now an amateur scout with Tampa Bay Lightning

105 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death as health officials urge B.C. to remember safety protocols

There are currently 1268 active cases, with 3,337 people under public health monitoring

Orange Shirt Day lessons of past in today’s classrooms

Phyllis Webstad, who attended St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School in British Columbia, is credited for creating the movement

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Greens’ Furstenau fires at NDP, Liberals on pandemic recovery, sales tax promise

She also criticized the NDP economic recovery plan, arguing it abandons the tourism industry

U.S. Presidential Debate Takeaways: An acrid tone from the opening minute

Here are key takeaways from the first of three scheduled presidential debates before Election Day on Nov. 3

B.C. nurses report rise in depression, anxiety, exhaustion due to pandemic

A new UBC study looks into how the COVID-19 response has impacted frontline nurses

Shoplifting suspect allegedly spits on worker at store in Nanaimo

Suspect became aggressive when confronted by loss prevention officer at Walmart, say RCMP

Most Read