The Victoria community is voicing concerns about the proposed bike lane design for Richardson Street that will be added to the city’s roads next year.
The new design, called an advisory bike lane, would see vehicles sharing one central lane down the middle of the road with bike lanes on either side. When drivers travelling in opposite directions converge, the vehicles are to move into the bike lane, yielding to cyclists, to pass each other safely.
Whether or not this would work in Victoria, however, is still up in the air.
“It looks like a game of chicken we used to play with our bikes when we were kids,” said Steve Wallace, the owner of Wallace Driving School. “The fact is that we’re having enough trouble getting people to check their right shoulder before they make a right turn to make sure the cyclists are safe.”
It’s not just concerning for drivers. Even cyclists are worried about the design.
“The key challenge with advisory bike lanes is they don’t function like any other bike lane we’ve already built,” said Corey Burger, the policy and infrastructure chair of Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition, noting it would be difficult for new cyclists to navigate.
Advisory bike lanes have only been used in a handful of places in North America, Burger added, with Canada having just two in Ottawa and Gibsons, B.C.
“There’s no good evidence that these are functioning the way they’re supposed to,” Burger said, adding the city should stick to designs they’ve already used in the downtown core.
For the advisory bike lane to work, traffic from Vancouver Street to Foul Bay Road has to be reduced significantly. To do this, the city is proposing the use of traffic calming measures like speed bumps, directional closures and median diverters — particularly a diverter at St. Charles Street that would allow right turns only and a westbound directional diverter at Foul Bay Road.
However, this would create additional problems for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.
“It means to get back on route where the person wants to go, they’re going to have to travel a longer distance,” said Chris Foord, vice chair of CRD Traffic Safety Commission. “They’re going to be frustrated, they’re probably going to drive a little faster… the diverters for Richardson may be putting other people at risk on other roads.”
The advisory lane idea will be tested on a small section of Humboldt Street, and Burger said the city should wait to see how that turns out before implementing it on a larger scale on Richardson Street.
The design for the four new bike lanes are still up in the air as the city considers public feedback for the finalized design that will be released early next year.