In October of last year, Campbell River City Council received a letter from the River City Cycling Club requesting the city consider adding bike lanes to Hilchey Road while they were doing the work to upgrade the water mains in the area anyway.
At that time, council asked for a report from staff on the options and potential costs of such additional work. It received that report Feb. 22, but was clearly not pleased with what it contained.
Staff was recommending a multi-use pathway along the north side of Hilchey that would completely separate bike users and pedestrians from traffic with a two-metre boulevard containing street trees and other landscaping features. Due to the high levels of traffic on the street – which is classified as a minor arterial road in the city’s Master Transportation Plan – and the speed counts showing the 85th percentile speeds being in the mid-to-high 50 km/h range, that’s the optimal scenario, accoring to the report.
The BC Active Transportation Guide recommends that cycling infrastructure on a street with the traffic volumes and speeds recorded on Hilchey be either a multi-use pathway like the one being proposed or, at the very least, a protected bicycle lane separated from traffic by a curb or other feature. Those options, however, would cost somewhere between $1.7 million at the low end for the separated lane and $4.75 million for the multi-use pathway.
Coun. Claire Moglove put forward a motion that design concepts be developed for these two types of bike lanes, but she didn’t get much support from the rest of council.
Coun. Charlie Cornfield suggested that it’s premature to decide to spend that kind of money on bike lanes while they are still in the process of reviewing the city’s Master Transportation Plan and moved to refer it to that process rather than have it decided on now.
Mayor Andy Adams was clearly disappointed in the report’s recommendations, saying the idea of adding bike lanes while they were already ripping up the street was to save money, not spend more, making reference to the additional work that needed to be done after they failed to consider biking when repaving Highway 19A between 1st Avenue and the Maritime Heritage Centre last year.
“When I see a report that suggests that we spend $4.75 million (on bike lanes) when we’re in an economic crisis in the forestry industry, we’ve been slammed with a $100-million economic crisis in the aquaculture industry, we’re in the middle of COVID with limited funds, and we’re looking to entertain $4.75 million? Somebody is out of touch with what’s going on with the residents in our community,” Adams says. “That’s not to say that establishing infrastructure for cycling is not the right thing to do, because it is, but to have this option presented at this time is not what was intended with the direction from council to staff on how to get the economies of scale and incorporate cycling into the existing structure.”
Only Coun. Moglove voted in opposition to referring the project to the Master Transportation Plan review.