BC Transit bus driving on Victoria’s new bus lanes on Douglas Street. (Keili Bartlett/News staff)

Victoria bus drivers say shared space with cyclists not efficient use of new lanes

BC Transit union rep says it’s ready to brainstorm for better solution

Victoria’s Douglas Street priority bus lanes are supposed to shorten travel times for transit users but sharing the lanes with cyclists may not be the best use of the space, say bus drivers.

The lanes – on both sides of Douglas Street from Fisgard Street to Tolmie Avenue – opened Nov. 5 and were designated for tranist buses and cyclists only – with a promise that cars using the lanes would be ticketed.

Related: Douglas Street 24-hour transit and bike priority lanes open Nov. 5

But the union representing BC Transit in Greater Victoria says having the lane designated for buses and cyclists may not be the most efficient use of the lane.

“The problem when you add the cyclists in there is the bus is only as fast as the cyclist,” said Ben Williams, President of Unifor Local 333BC. “You used to have a bike lane beside the right-hand lane [and] that’s not the case anymore – now the cyclist needs to ride right in front of the bus…”

“The operators are going to slow down and follow at a safe following distance but clearly for some cyclists that’s going to be intimidating – when you have a 40-foot vehicle behind you,” he added.

Williams said despite cyclists, the new bus lanes have sped up the time it takes for buses to get in and out of downtown and emphasized that Victoria bus drivers aren’t against cyclists in any way. They support any initiative that gets people out of their cars.

“The more people we can get out of vehicles will improve the congestion in Greater Victoria,” Williams said. “We’re definitely open to having discussions with the cycling community, BC Transit, the different municipalities. We would like to see a change to this, to see what we can do to maximize efficiency.”

Related: Cyclists question safety of bike and transit lane

Related: Buses get priority left turn lane onto Douglas Street



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