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LETTER: Victoria’s new bike corridors not making cycling safer

I am a cyclist who rides approx 100 km per week. I also walk to work. Our family owns one vehicle that we use when necessary. I support infrastructure that makes cycling safer and increases use of sustainable transportation options.

Studies show that the No. 1 thing that makes cycling safer is driver awareness, and driver care for cyclists. Increasing animosity between drivers and cyclists decreases safety for cyclists – regardless of infrastructure. Drivers do not want to hit people. But angry drivers do not always behave rationally.

Right now, I am witnessing an alarming trend. The new bike corridors are making cycling less safe, and less efficient.

Case in point: last week I was riding the bike path on Harbour Road between the Goose and Johnson. I needed to get to the south side of the bridge so I could continue downtown. I found myself cycling into oncoming traffic when the bike lane abruptly ended with no signage. Had there been no bike lane, I would have been riding on the right side of the road. Had the design of the bike lanes been better thought through, this would have been a great road for a connector. But the current design is frighteningly unsafe.

I live near Vancouver Street and ride the new corridor approximately three times per week. Additionally, I drive the same area three times per week. The bike lanes have made my bike commute longer by introducing unnecessary stoplights. Every day I witness people stopping, observing zero traffic, and proceeding through red lights. This does not increase the safety of cyclists.

The drive time between my house and my mother-in-law’s two kilometres south of me has doubled, meaning my carbon emissions on this trip have doubled. Cycling while bringing her hot food and two dogs is not a reasonable option, so I drive.

Let me be very clear, I support bike lanes on Vancouver. I advocated that Vancouver was a better option than Cook. But the current design is appalling and unnecessarily cumbersome.

In short, I cannot support any changes to James Bay or Government Street without seeing how these changes will make cycling safer. Because simply adding bike lanes with no thought to the consequences (where will traffic be diverted to?) does not make cycling safer.

If we want safer cycling, we need to start by getting drivers onboard. This animosity and us-vs-them mentality has got to stop.

Let’s take a step back and ask: What is the problem we are trying to solve? Then, let’s solve that.

Karmen McNamara

Victoria