By now, thousands of drivers and pedestrians have cautiously made their way along Fort Street, carefully avoiding the construction work happening on that stretch for the upcoming dedicated two-way bike lanes.
As with any construction project affecting streets, there’s going to be some inconvenience involved as crews operating heavy equipment dig up the edge of the roadway and prepare to install cycling infrastructure.
Some merchants have complained, some publicly and others in private, that the City of Victoria promised the work wasn’t going to start until November. Based on previous stories published by the News, it appears the work is on schedule, but that’s not going to make retailers any happier.
In the construction phase, infrastructure projects leave few people grinning, with the possible exception of young residents who enjoy watching mighty machines – or those simply young at heart. It’s a matter of putting up with the mess and inevitable traffic tie-ups until the work is done.
It remains to be seen what impact the dedicated bike lanes between Wharf and Cook streets will have on vehicle traffic along the busy Fort Street corridor. Will it become more congested? Will drivers choose a different eastbound route, such as Johnson Street, to avoid having one less through lane?
The City claims that 1,500 cyclists per day use the Pandora Avenue two-way bike lanes, and drivers are getting used to the new rules and lights affecting right turns on and off Pandora. It’ll be interesting to see whether that number goes down once the Fort lanes are completed.
Some might question the need for two east-west protected bike corridors within four blocks of each other, not to mention the cost. But this is the new reality in the city, where “build it and they will come” is the mantra and contributing solutions to the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions is an overarching philosophy.
In general we admire that approach, but we’re still going to wait for the outcome and judge the decision to add more dedicated bike lanes on their usage.