Table tennis talk: Are the bike lanes working?

WatchWATCH – A new amenity is open along Victoria’s latest bike lane corridor. As part of the Humboldt bike lane the city has created an urban plaza at Douglas Street featuring outdoor table tennis. Victoria’s Mayor agreed to a match to discuss the city’s newest cycling infrastructure including Wharf Street which recently set a city record for most bike trips in a day.

Day one and the paddles didn’t seem to get a rest. It seems people like free table tennis.

On Thursday the city officially opened up its newest pedestrian plaza at Humboldt and Douglas Streets. The plaza, along the newly opened Humboldt bike corridor, features new trees and benches as well as several areas to sit.

But the most talked about addition rests on four legs, three of them on top of piles of wood of varying heights which helps keep the table level.

“Ping pong, free for use, this is great,” said one man from Ottawa who played his girlfriend a friendly match Thursday afternoon.

A couple from Portland also picked up the paddles and bounced the ball back-and-forth before heading back to their hotel.

Victoria’s Mayor Lisa Helps even answered our request for a game, fending off serves and a few questions.

When asked how she determines the success of what will eventually be 32-kilometres of bike lanes winding throughout the capital city, the mayor told CHEK News she basis it on a couple factors including increased ridership.

Since opening in May 2018 the Pandora Street bike lane has seen an average of 1,100 trips a day.

That number was smashed Wednesday when the newly opened Wharf Street witnessed 2,600 trips, the largest number of trips in a day for any of the city’s new bike lanes.

According to ride-sharing company Modo, demand for shared automobiles is up, especially on the south island. Between July 2018 and July 2019, it saw its membership grow 19 percent in the capital region, compared to only 8 percent in Metro Vancouver.

“In terms of why Victoria’s demand exceeds demand elsewhere, we attribute some of this to the walkability of Victoria, the favourable weather, above average use of cycling, and the green-mindedness of many residents,” said Selena McLachlan with Modo.

Helps says pedestrian traffic is also important, along with improving people’s overall health.

Frustrated drivers have criticized the bike lanes for causing delays. In a recent tweet one driver said it took 20 minutes to get five blocks downtown.

The mayor fired back, saying she likes the messiness of bikes and pedestrians.

As for the city’s taxpayer watchdog, the Grumpy Taxpayers of Victoria question the decision for a ping pong table as well as the price which it pegs at $6,071 dollars.

“I think something that would’ve suite a broader group would’ve been more appropriate,” said Stan Bartlett.

The city says it cost $5150 dollars including taxes and delivery and says the money comes from gas tax funding.

City staff say its cycling network project is ahead of schedule and work has already begun on the next phase which will see bike lanes on Vancouver Street and Harbour Road.

The city plans to have bike lanes connecting every neighborhood by the end of 2022.


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