The next phases of the cycling network in Victoria got a green light March 18, including the choice of Fort Street for protected one-way bike lanes to Oak Bay.
Council, sitting as committee of the whole, approved staff’s recommendation to use Fort as the priority AAA cycling corridor between the Oak Bay junction and Foul Bay Road. Staff will complete a detailed design, to be put into the 2022 financial plan and construction schedule.
Fort Street was Oak Bay’s preferred choice as well, said Mayor Kevin Murdoch, as it works with existing infrastructure on Cadboro Bay Road and Foul Bay north to the University of Victoria.
“We’re very happy that they’re doing that as their priority,” he said. “We have, as some of our priorities starting in 2022, the whole of the Oak Bay Avenue Village plan, transportation improvements and a few other things.”
Fort was one of three options considered by Victoria staff and was selected ahead of Oak Bay Avenue and Fort Street-Leighton Avenue. Oak Bay Avenue had been recommended in the 2016 Biketoria planning process, but further research found Fort a more logical choice. Among the criteria used in the route comparison were frequent destinations – Royal Jubilee Hospital is one of the largest employers in the region – topography, parking loss and links to adjacent cycling infrastructure.
While it wasn’t part of the decision being considered by Victoria council last week, the disposition of Richardson Street, one of the city’s planned east-west bike lane projects for 2021, did elicit comment at the meeting.
Coun. Stephen Andrew said he had received upwards of 200 messages of concern about plans for the corridor, illustrating a gap in communication from the city to residents. Sarah Webb, manager of sustainable transportation planning and development, told him significant outreach happened in advance of the decision.
Victoria aims to reduce vehicle traffic between Cook Street and Foul Bay Road from approximately 3,500 trips a day to around 500, using barriers that render the section for local traffic only.
Murdoch said he has cycled along Richardson for many years without fear. He continues to be frustrated his council wasn’t given the opportunity to have input on the design.
“I think this has been one of those ones that has been driven more by ideology than demand,” Murdoch said. “I don’t think the benefits outweigh the negatives on that particular design.”
Richardson is used by many drivers coming out of Oak Bay, and the mayor fears local streets, as well as arterial roads Fairfield Road and Oak Bay Avenue, will bear the brunt of the decision to force traffic off Richardson.