Signage installed in downtown Victoria recently indicates horse-drawn carriage routes, but at least one offers interesting directions.
At the intersection of Humboldt and Douglas streets – which was transformed into a no-through route for vehicle traffic to accommodate the Humboldt Street bike lane in August– a sign directs both cyclists and horse-drawn carriages to share the route.
In addition to the potential traffic jam and safety issues for horses and cyclists, the bike lane also neighbours a ping-pong table and benches where people can play using communal paddles and balls.
The City of Victoria said the sign in that particular area has been up since August.
“This came about as a result of our consultation with the horse-drawn carriage companies to provide safe access across the remodelled intersection to continue east along Humboldt Street. It is part of their circular route,” said Bill Eisenhauer, head of engagement in an emailed statement. “Carriages share the bikeway briefly through the closed section and follow the same traffic signalling. It has been going well, no reports of any issues.”
The lack of issues may well be a result of a lack of use by some carriage drivers.
“I would never take my horse down that route,” said Donna Friedlander, owner and operator of Tally-Ho Carriage tours. “Especially because of the ping-pong table.”
She added, however, that she’s happy that signs are going up around the city, a request that carriage drivers have long been advocating for.
Cycling advocates are also not perturbed by the idea.
“Generally at low volumes, it shouldn’t be a problem,” said Corey Burger, policy and infrastructure chair at the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition in an email. “Sharing with the occasional horse carriage isn’t a major issue – compare that with sharing with the hundreds of cars (as well as the carriages) previously and this is a much better situation.”
So, cyclists and carriage drivers will continue to share the pathway, much like they share other portions of the road in the downtown core.