Vic­to­ria coun­cil­lors look at fast-track­ing bike-lane net­work

Times Colonist - - The Capital / B.c. - BILL CLEV­ER­LEY

Vic­to­ria coun­cil­lors have asked city staff to look at fast-track­ing the city’s con­tro­ver­sial 32-kilo­me­tre bi­cy­cling net­work.

Coun­cil­lors unan­i­mously asked staff to re­port back on op­tions for com­plet­ing the cy­cling net­work by the end of 2022.

“I wouldn’t call it ex­pe­dited. I would say it’s just get­ting it done,” said Vic­to­ria Mayor Lisa Helps, who pro­posed the mo­tion. “The time­line was orig­i­nally four years. Then it turned into eight, so I would say it’s stick­ing to the orig­i­nal plan of coun­cil just to get this thing built.”

Di­rec­tor of en­gi­neer­ing Fraser Work said tim­ing of the bike lane con­struc­tion is dic­tated by a num­ber of fac­tors in­clud­ing: • How the pub­lic is en­gaged and how much time that takes. • The con­struc­tion mar­ket. (Time­lines are dif­fi­cult to control in a hot con­struc­tion mar­ket and lack of work­ers can drive up prices.) • Qual­ity of de­sign which re­quires in­put from agen­cies, in­clud­ing emer­gency ser­vices and B.C. Tran­sit. • Avail­abil­ity of grant fund­ing.

Con­sul­ta­tion is “the long­est pole in the tent,” Work said. He said con­sul­ta­tion is done not only to help in­form and im­prove the bike lane de­sign but to ed­u­cate the com­mu­nity on how the projects work.

Helps said in an in­ter­view the city made a mis­take in its con­sul­ta­tion process for the first legs of the pro­ject.

“The mis­take we made last time or the unclar­ity we made last time was we didn’t say: ‘We’ve done a strate­gic plan. We’re build­ing a bike net­work. Now help us fig­ure out what it’s go­ing to look like cor­ri­dor by cor­ri­dor.’ ” Helps said there is now no ques­tion, es­pe­cially given the in­ter­ven­ing elec­tion in Oc­to­ber, that the de­ci­sion has been made to build the bike net­work.

So the con­sul­ta­tion is not about whether or not to move ahead but how best to move ahead, she said.

“So I think the con­sul­ta­tion will be about mak­ing the de­sign bet­ter along the cor­ri­dor, not a back and forth about whether we should even do it.”

The city opened the first leg of the net­work — a two-way bike lane on Pan­dora Av­enue be­tween Cook and Wharf streets in April 2017, at a cost of $3.4 mil­lion. The sec­ond leg on Fort Street be­tween Cook and Wharf opened in May at a cost of $3.27 mil­lion.

The city hopes to go to ten­der soon on the Wharf-Hum­boldt bike lanes that will link the Pan­dora legs and Fort as well as ty­ing into the Gal­lop­ing Goose via the Johnson Street Bridge.

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