When the city repaved the section of the old highway between 1st Avenue and the Maritime Heritage Centre following the completion of the sewer renewal project earlier this year, they also painted new markings denoting where bikes were expected to travel and vehicles were to park.
While nothing actually changed in terms of where people were expected to park or ride – the markings were simply made more clear on the roadway – the completed work caused significant concern from the local biking community, which wondered why no changes were made to improve safety.
“It’s unfortunate how this unfolded,” Mayor Andy Adams said on Tuesday at the city’s Committee of the Whole meeting. “I think staff was trying to do the best they could and be fiscally responsible with this, but I feel this was a missed opportunity.”
Adams had asked that staff bring back a report on some alternatives to the current configuration of the road, which was presented this week.
While there were numerous options presented to council on different ways to possibly address the concerns, it was decided that maybe council shouldn’t actually be the ones to make the decision on it.
“I see this as an opportunity to consult the cycling community on these options,” Coun. Claire Moglove said. “When I take a look around this table, I could be wrong, but I don’t think any of us are regular cyclists along that route, or anywhere, for that matter. All of these options will have some pros and cons associated, and if we don’t take the opportunity to consult with the public, we could end up in the same situation (after making another decision).”
Coun. Charlie Cornfield wanted to take the whole thing a step further and get a review of the entire corridor done, including the expansion of the Seawalk through the area, saying council “needs to look at the bigger picture, too,” if they are considering making any adjustments.
While others agreed that the whole corridor needs a long-term plan, the area between 5th and 6th Avenues, in particular, needed to be addressed ASAP.
Coun. Kermit Dahl says he has, in fact, ridden that stretch of road on his bike. But he doesn’t anymore, he says, echoing the safety concerns council has been hearing from the public.
“I ride my bike a lot from my place in Willow Point to Campbellton,” Dahl says. “I used to ride, every Thursday, down that route, because I had a networking group that I met with on Thursday morning. That stretch is the most dangerous piece of bicycling real estate that there is between Willow Point and Campbellton. You can have all the consultation you want, but that’s the reality of the situation. I ride through Beaver Lodge Lands now, because that way is too dangerous.”
Coun. Michele Babchuk says while she isn’t a cyclist, “my husband is, and he’s almost been taken out twice in that area,” saying that the engagement needs to happen “sooner rather than later, especially surrounding that piece. If we choose to do a larger piece down the line, we have that ability later.”
In the end, it was determined that an open house will be scheduled to take place, likely at the Maritime Heritage Centre, where all stakeholders will be consulted on possible short-term and long-term goals for the area to address how to make the route more safe for all road users.
Watch the Campbell River Mirror for the announcement on where and when that meeting will take place.