Victoria’s first scramble crosswalk opens downtown

WatchGetting around downtown Victoria without a car just got a whole lot easier. On Aug. 1, the city unveiled a scramble style intersection and a section of a protected bike lane. And as Julian Kolsut found out, pedestrians and bikers are loving the new routes.

There’s a new way to get across the Wharf, Humboldt and Government streets intersection in downtown Victoria.

On Aug. 1, a new pedestrian scramble crosswalk opened in downtown Victoria on Government Street, adjacent to the Victoria Visitor Centre. In a scramble crosswalk, traffic is stopped in all directions while pedestrians cross in any direction, including diagonally across the intersection.

“I feel really good about this,” Victoria visitor Samar Sayrdyahossein said.

“It gives you a lot of freedom you feel like you are free to go in all the directions, which is very nice. As a person who comes to visit, absolutely it’s a nice feature.”

The part of the Wharf Street protected bike lane that runs from the Johnson Street Bridge to Fort Street also opened Thursday.

“A pedestrian scramble is used to facilitate safe pedestrian moments in a busy place like downtown Victoria,” Sarah Webb, the City of Victoria city transportation manager, said.

“The Wharf Street protected bike lane and the Humboldt street project are part of the city’s 32-kilometre all ages and abilities cycling network.”

But the lead up to the project wasn’t an easy road for everyone.

“This project has been very disruptive,” Paul Nursey, CEO with Destination Greater Victoria, said.

“Any of our businesses have seen significant downturns this summer while construction has taken place. But we think its a short-term pain for long-term gain thing because it looks beautiful and having a more pedestrian-friendly and bike-friendly intersection should help in the long term and we are really excited about that.”

The City of Victoria hopes the scramble intersection will help alleviate some congestion when big events like Symphony Splash comes to Victoria.

“During big events and festivals like Canada Day or the Symphony Splash, we’ve often previously had to close the road. Now that we have this new design, motorists will still be able to travel through and adjacent to the area, and pedestrians and cyclists will be able to have their own space,” Webb said.

The city has put out an explainer video for the new intersection.

The section of the Wharf Street bike lane from Fort Street to Government Street is scheduled to open on Aug. 8, followed by the Government Street to Douglas Street section on Aug. 15.


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