Buses and cyclists have to share the north and southbound priority lanes on Douglas Street and it’s proving a challenge for both.

“We know from experience elsewhere bus-bike lanes are not very comfortable,” said Corey Burger, Policy and Infrastructure Chair with the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition.

And now the union representing bus drivers says the lanes aren’t that efficient either.

“The bus is only as fast as the slowest cyclist,” said Ben Williams, president of Unifor Local 333.

Williams says during busy times when a bus gets behind a cyclist they’re stuck there, and that’s slowing travel time.

“How narrow those lanes are a bus cannot safely pass anymore,” he said. “You could have a situation where that cyclist is constantly in front of the vehicle for a number of blocks if not the majority of Douglas Street.”

Burger agrees it’s a problem, saying for those on bikes there is pressure to move faster.

“You’re sharing a lane with a very large vehicle, even though it’s professionally driven, and transit drivers are fantastic around people on bikes but you’re still you can feel it behind you,” he said.

Burger says he’d like to see the corridor changed to median bus lanes with protected bike lanes. But the Victoria Regional Transit Commission, while open to feedback on the new lanes, says a drastic design change is unlikely.

“The decision was made to go with this design and as I say from a safety point of view and an efficiency point of view we’re very happy,” said Commission Chair Susan Brice.

The transit union admits, despite the occasional slowdown, the bus lanes are speeding up the commute but bus drivers say they want the new lanes to be as efficient as possible, however that has to happen.

“We’re not trying to push the cyclists out we’re just saying what’s the best way to utilize these lanes so we can get the maximum efficiency out of it?” said Williams.

April Lawrence