The River City Cycle Club (RCCC) has been advocating for years for improvements to the city’s cycling infrastructure.
So with a municipal by-election coming up, they took the opportunity to pose a couple of questions to the candidates to see where they stand – or rather ride – on what they see are the issues in the community in regards to active transportation.
In the last article, the candidates discussed what they feel the future looks like for cycling in the community. In this one, the candidates give their stance on installing separated bike lanes around the city. It’s an expensive endeavour and certainly has its critics, but some feel it would be a great addition to Campbell River, providing more safety for those who already use bikes as a form of transportation while possibly also getting more people out of their cars and onto a bicycle.
John Elson with the RCCC’s Cycling Advocacy Committee says he’s optimistic about the prospect of separated cycling lanes being built in town eventually and was encouraged by the answers he heard from the current candidates.
“I thought their answers were overall pretty positive,” Elson says. “I didn’t sense any hostility towards active transportation or even, in particular, separated bike lanes, which can be controversial. Historically, it hasn’t been a big issue. We planned for cars, but I think we’re seeing a sea change. There’s a lot more interest in cycling. I’ve never seen as many people riding through the winter as I have this year, and as the town continues to grow, I think there’s a lot of opportunity to make safe transportation routes where people can use their own energy to get to work.”
Ken Blackburn answered the question about separated bike lanes by saying that while it’s true that it can be an expensive solution, the cost is well worth it and it can be done much more cost-effectively if it’s planned in advance rather than installed as an afterthought.
“Proximity to traffic can be a barrier for many people – notably for seniors and families with younger children,” he added. “With increased security I feel more people will be attracted to get active. And the health benefits are across the board – personal physical health, mental health, environmental health and yes, economic health.
“Active citizenship is very important for positive community development and our modes of transport greatly influence activity. More cycling, more walking, all with greater concern for safety, should be part of our strategic planning.”
Doug Chapman agrees that separated bike lanes should be put in the city’s budget and planned out ahead of time.
“Developing a network of bike lanes will take many years. Now is the time to start,” Chapman says. “Each year in the capital budget, funds should be either put aside or used to develop bike lanes each year. There will be times where the funds would need to be put aside and saved for a large project that cannot be done piecemeal. Budgeting this way requires a longer view than just four years, discipline and commitment.”
Both Kealy Donaldson and Devon Garat say they’d like to see, at the very least, something like the Galloping Goose trail in Victoria incorporated into the city’s planning.
“If the lanes were dedicated and off the main roadways, similar to the galloping goose in Victoria, it would be good,” says Garat, while Donaldson says she sees a “huge opportunity to build transportation corridors with cycling lanes and the potential of two systems running end to end within the city for active cyclists.”
Stephen Jewell says he was somewhat surprised by the lack of cycling infrastructure when he arrived here.
“Having cycled in Holland and seeing what cycle lanes can be and should be, it is very disappointing the lack of respect the cycling community gets,” Jewell says. “I don’t see very much work in Campbell River when comes to cycle lanes. You can be sure you would have my vote for separated cycle lanes and any improvement that would keep cyclists safe and protected from motor vehicles.”
Wes Roed says the city should be consulting more with the cycling community when planning road upgrades, as that’s how he sees the installation of bike lanes as being the most fiscally responsible.
“I agree that the council should be looking into this seriously and with the guidance and input of the Cycling Advocacy Committee and the River City Cycle Club, help the council make an informed decision. Fiscally, it might be most prudent to start considering the addition of bike lanes as streets and roads are repaired.”
Laurel Slikovic is all-in on separated bike lanes and says she doesn’t think the cost of their installation even needs to come entirely from the municipal government.
“Investment in the development of a network of separated, protected bike lanes will lead to increased participation in cycling, as many riders (or potential riders) simply do not feel safe alongside vehicular traffic,” Sliskovic says. “With access to provincial funding, a multitude of data and best practice examples from communities around the globe, we can plan for and make proactive investment in our physical, social, mental, economic, and environmental health through safe and accessible active transportation networks in Campbell River.”
Sean Smyth agrees with the idea of a trail system rather than forcing bikes and cars to share the same limited road space.
“There are cost efficient ways to do this without taking roads away from drivers,” Smyth says. “The Greenways loop has been a huge success for the community, I would like to see it turn into a network throughout the city. This would encourage more people to ride and commute by bicycle without compromising the safety of the cyclists and motorists. It would be an added relief for drivers who become frustrated sharing busy and narrow roads with cyclists. Having to share the road with drivers is one of the main reasons why we rarely commute to school with the kids. The critical issue is to accommodate both drivers and cyclists. Campbell River can manage a successful network of separated bike lanes further making it a haven for cyclists.”