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Hilchey to get temporary cycling upgrade while city reviews community-wide cycling plan

Council recinds motion deferring a bike lane for Hilchey into Master Transportation Plan review
A cyclist heads southbound on Hilchey Road, which is now slated to get some safety improvements for cyclists after a previous council motion to roll all cycling improvements into its Master Transportation Review was recalled by Mayor Andy Adams. The has now pulled cycling infrastruture out of that review and into its own. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

The Campbell River cycling community will get some kind of bike lane on Hilchey Road after all.

After deferring the issue into the Master Transportation Plan review at a meeting earlier this spring when they saw the cost of the proposed project options, council brought the matter back to the table March 22 for reconsideration to see if they could at least do something for cyclists while the route is under reconstruction anyway.

After the dust settled, cyclists still won’t be getting a separated lane with a median between riders and vehicle traffic – at least for now – they will be getting some painted lines, and possibly a curb.

Mayor Andy Adams brought the matter back before council, saying the original intent in asking for options from city staff was to “get some economies of scale” by adding cycling infrastructure to roads that were already having work done.

“We have heard loud and clear that the cycling infrastructure in Campbell River is woefully inadequate,” Adams says, pointing out that while council has made some improvements in this regard, there are still “significant gaps” in the city’s cycling routes.

While he recognized that the proposal for a painted lane separation a curb is not the “ideal” solution – and likely not even the permanent one – “my hope is that we can take the opportunity, as part of the completion of the Hilchey Road water infrastructure works … we can at least put in something.”

There were some concerns around council chambers that in putting in a temporary solution, they would essentially be wasting money should it be replaced in the future with something more permanent, but in the end it was decided it was the best course of action while they work on updating the city’s community-wide cycling plan.

“We need to really take a look at what we want to achieve, work with the cycling community, identify not only our east/west connectors as this one is between the waterfront and Beaver Lodge Lands, but also how things tie in with the ERT and what are our north/south primary connectors,” Adams says. “When you look at our Master Transportation Plan now, it certainly doesn’t cut it.”

To that end, council also pulled the city’s Cycling Infrastructure Plan out of the Master Transportation Plan review process to get staff started on that.

“The Cycling Plan section of our Master Transportation Plan is dated 2012 and is sorely outdated,” says Coun. Colleen Evans, who made the motion to remove it from the current review and fast-track the process of getting it fixed. “Doing this will enable council to have a focused and timely discussion to identify the priorities for cycling networks, the standards for cycling safety and priority projects.”

The rest of council agreed, with Mayor Adams pointing out that by not having these plans in place, the city has missed out on funding opportunities to improve things for the cycling community here.

“We know that there have been grants that have come out and we know that there are more coming,” Adams says.

“It is unfortunate that we are not shovel ready to be able to take advantage of those.”

Staff was then tasked with reporting back to council on a timeline for the cycling infrastructure review as soon as possible.

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