After an uproar from the local bicycling community and a thorough review that included public consultation, the City of Campbell River has decided to add a bike lane to both sides of the Old Island Highway between 5th and 6th Avenues by removing the parking from the east side of the roadway.
The stretch of road became a point of contention after the city repaved the section from 1st Avenue to the Maritime Heritage Centre upon completion of a sewer renewal project last spring.
As the road use had not changed and they had not been given alternate direction from council, crews went ahead and repaved the lines consistent with what was there before the work: one travel lane in each direction, a centre, two-way-left-turn lane, bike lanes between 1st and 5th Avenues and a northbound left turn lane at 6th Avenue.
But when cyclists saw the new paint, which directed them with sharrows to join the traffic lane for traveling between 5th and 6th Avenues, they wondered why and complained to the city. Although there was no change to the road layout, it became painfully obvious with fresh paint on fresh paving that there was a dangerous pinch-point at which there were bound to be interactions between bikes and vehicle traffic.
So the city came up with eight possible remedies and put them before an open-house-style gathering at the Maritime Heritage Centre late last summer, as well as an online survey. Director of Operations Drew Hadfield says the responses from the public led them to the solution of removing the parking spots from the east side of the highway, moving the centre line east and incorporating a cycling lane on either side of the road, as is the layout for the rest of that stretch.
Mayor Andy Adams says that he appreciates Hadfield and his team’s work on reviewing the stretch of road and consulting with the community on the issue, admitting that “it’s unfortunate that we didn’t do that initially, because there will be a cost involved in removing the existing lines, but I hope that will be taken into consideration as we move forward into the future.”
But he does think the solution that was being recommended – and was ultimately passed – is the right one.
“When I’m driving down there, I see that the current marked parking spaces are usually less than 50 per cent occupied, and the majority of the properties on the east side are condos or apartments that have internal designated parking for not only residents but visitors, as well,” Adams says. “I certainly appreciate that this will provide a continuous cycling route from the south end of town, at least until we get to the Maritime Heritage Centre, where we run into trouble, but that’s part of our downtown improvement plans moving forward.”
The work will begin as soon as staff time allows and will come from the city’s already-designated operations budget.