The City of Victoria gave the green light to more protected bike lanes in the downtown core on Thursday night, this time on Fort Street between Wharf and Cook.
City council voted unanimously to approve the $3.2 million dollar project that Mayor Lisa Helps would like to see being built by the end of September.
“The real point of this project is that we have a complete network,” said Helps,
“We need the entire network to be built and that’s why we’re moving ahead at the pace we’re moving.”
The project will see Fort Street lose one lane of vehicle traffic between Wharf and Douglas.
That and the potential loss of 18 parking spots in that same stretch was a real cause for concern for local business owners.
“This street has a disproportionate amount of impacts,” Rob Simon of Paul Mara Jewellers said earlier this week.
“Not only are we losing all the parking on the north side, we’re also losing a lane of traffic and that isn’t the case for any other part of this project.”
Now council is promising to spend an extra $500,000 to make sure eight parking spaces are kept.
Protected bike lanes have been in use for a month on nearby Pandora, which the union representing Greater Victoria transit operators says are causing problems for bus drivers.
Construction of the separated bike lanes caused the vehicle lanes along Pandora to be reduced to a three-metre width. However, the union said buses require lanes at least 3.3. metres wide.
“The loss of a third of a metre has meant the operators end up straddling two lanes,” Ben Williams from Unifor Local 333 said. the fact that they are straddling two lanes means them
“The fact that they are straddling two lanes is impeding traffic and the flow of traffic [is] also creating dangerous situations where other motorists are trying to get past the bus when it’s taking up two lanes.”
Williams also said that streets with protected bike lanes will result in slower transit times.
Numbers show an average of 1,100 cyclists a day are already using the bike lanes on Pandora.
“It has been enormously successful — way better than we expected,” Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said.
The two-way bike lanes were the first phase of a $9-million project to make cycling safer and more accessible in the B.C. capital.