Victoria forwards motion to extend 24/7 bus lane on Douglas St., impacting parking

Victoria forwards motion to extend 24/7 bus lane on Douglas St., impacting parking
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Victoria committee of the whole voted to change a section of bus lanes on Douglas Street to be 24/7 on May 16. 2024.

Parking on a section of Douglas Street may soon be a thing of the past, after Victoria’s committee of the whole unanimously voted to change the bus lanes to be in operation 24/7.

Currently, the bus lanes on Douglas between Hillside Avenue and Herald Street are only in effect during rush hour, then outside those times parking or other vehicle travel is permitted.

During the committee of the whole meeting Thursday, it was unanimously approved to change that section to be bus lanes at all times.

If passed in a council meeting, staff will be directed to switch the lanes to bus lanes as soon as possible, but no later than the end of the year.

A staff presentation says this change will result in a loss of around 73 on-street parking or loading stalls, which in February 2023 were measured to have a utilization rate of 55 per cent.

Extending bus lanes between Herald and Humboldt streets

In addition to that section, staff have been directed to look into expanding the bus lanes down the length of Douglas Street, to prioritize buses.

Staff noted that during an average peak travel period, 140 buses will travel through carrying 3,500 passengers. Other modes of travel during that period include 1,400 people walking, 150 people cycling and 1,300 vehicles.

Between Herald Street and Humboldt Street, staff proposed six options, but the recommended option was to turn one travel lane in each direction into a bus lane, which would be shared with cyclists as is the case in the rest of the Douglas bus lanes.

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A rendering of the recommended option for extending bus lanes along Douglas Street. (Victoria staff report)

The other options were not recommended due to the expected impacts to general-purpose traffic, reduction of trees or pedestrian space or accessibility concerns.

Councillors ultimately voted to amend the motion 5-4 to ask staff to consider whether bike lanes along the street may be maintained.

“We’ve received correspondence and advocacy from Capital Bike, they’re not happy with any of these options that are promoted. It seems like a step backwards in terms of our commitments to cycling facilities,” said Coun. Jeremy Caradonna.

When coming up with the recommended plan, staff said it looked at the existing bike infrastructure on Government Street, and the plans to expand bike infrastructure on Blanshard Street and said it made sense to prioritize other forms of transportation on Douglas.

“One of the challenges that we have with our mobility network is the trade offs that we have to make in terms of where we have our hierarchy, generally speaking, pedestrians being our highest priority, cycling, transit, goods movement, private motor vehicles,” Ross Kenny, Victoria’s assistant director of transportation, said during the May 16 committee of the whole meeting.

“It’s not as simple for us to be able to say, ‘well, it’s always number 1, 2, 3, 4,’ and working down that because every street has its own role to play.”

“In this case, our belief is transit on Douglas is the number one priority for that corridor, and then along with space for pedestrians, and those that are waiting to take those transit buses. And one of the other very important roles that Douglas plays for the local economy is just that circulation of the downtown and this is for every loading truck, every business, and deliveries that have to happen.”

Staff were directed to report back by the first quarter of 2026 with design and trade-offs for this plan.

New rapid bus terminus

The final plan for changes to Douglas Street includes moving the bus terminal from beside the B.C. Legislature to 700 Douglas Street, which is just outside of Crystal Gardens.

In addition to moving the bus terminal, staff recommended reconfiguring the intersection at Blanshard and Bellville Streets to a standard “T” intersection and add a traffic signal.

Staff say these changes will improve pedestrian access, improve access to Cridge Park and St. Anns Academy and reduce traffic diverted onto Belleville Street.

Staff are also expected to report back on these options by the first quarte of 2026.

Laura BroughamLaura Brougham

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