‘It’s very exciting’: Saanich cyclists could see some protected bike lanes by end of year

'It's very exciting': Saanich cyclists could see some protected bike lanes by end of year
WatchBike lane improvement projects have been in the works in Saanich for a couple years. Now, the long-awaited protected bike lanes could finally be in place by the end of 2021. Jasmine Bala has more.

Bollards and concrete medians could be a reality for some heavily-used Saanich bike lanes before the end of the year, if the municipality receives a government grant that would accelerate the project.

The bike lanes on Cloverdale Avenue are currently separated from cars with a painted line, leaving cyclists like Corey Burger worried about their safety.

“One of the big challenges with it is because there isn’t a protected space,” said Burger, who is the policy and infrastructure chair for the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition. “People can drive in it, people can park in it, people can use it as a right turning lane.”

Upgrading the existing bike lanes is something that Saanich has planned to do since the municipality introduced its Active Transportation plan in 2018. Part of their all ages and abilities cycling network expansion project includes upgrades to three main corridors.

Protected bike lanes with bollards or concrete medians are proposed for Cloverdale Avenue from the Galloping Goose Trail to Quadra Street and the 4 km stretch of McKenzie Avenue from Borden Street to Finnerty Road.

The 3.3 km bike lane on Lochside Drive from Royal Oak Drive to Cordova Bay Drive will get traffic calming measures and spot treatments.

“It’s going to create some improvements to the infrastructure that will make bicycling a more attractive proposition for people of all ages, not just for those of us that are already fairly avid cyclists,” said Saanich Coun. Karen Harper. “So there will be things like stop buttons when you’re coming to areas that are quite busy and so on.”

It’s a project that’s been in the works for a while, but now, it may come to fruition faster than expected. If council gives the go ahead at Monday’s meeting, Saanich will apply for a new government COVID-19 relief grant that would cover 100 per cent of the project’s cost — A total of $5.03 million.

“This is really very good news if we can qualify for this grant because it will allow us in fact to accelerate some of our plans without it causing a lift to the taxes, which would be a win-win for everyone,” she explained.

READ MORE: Galloping Goose and Lochside regional trails may be widened, separating cyclists and pedestrians

Burger added Saanich isn’t the only municipality in the region eyeing the grant for projects that are already planned.

Sidney is looking at widening and repaving a section of their trail that runs on the west side of Highway 17 and Victoria is hoping to use the funds to make the bike lane on Government Street North a protected one, he said.

“It’s very exciting to see the municipalities know this is something the people who live there, who work there, are asking for,” he said.

Applications for the federally and provincially-funded grant will close on Jan. 27.

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Jasmine BalaJasmine Bala

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