An overhead view of what two new cycle lanes might look like along Front Street at the intersection with Church Street. (City of Nanaimo image)

Nanaimo approves waterfront bike lanes

$400,000 project will reduce automobile traffic to one lane in each direction

Nanaimo will be getting a new two-way cycle track along the waterfront on Front Street, at the expense of existing vehicle lanes.

Nanaimo city council, at its meeting Monday, voted 6-2 to approve the final designs of the $400,000 project, to be constructed this year.

The project will reduce Front Street to one lane in each direction. The lane closest to the water will become a protected two-way cycle track from Maffeo Sutton Park to the downtown ferry terminal, while the lane on the opposite side of the street will gain parking.

Councillors were asked to OK the project at a finance and audit meeting last fall, but asked staff to further consult with stakeholders before bringing final designs back to the council table. Staff reported Monday that there has been engagement with RDN Transit, B.C. Ferries, the Port of Nanaimo and Front Street businesses and residents. Staff again recommended the project proceed.

“We will be losing travel lanes south of Chapel, but we’re already at two lanes north of Chapel, so the actual corridor itself, fundamentally it’s a two-lane cross-section,” said Jamie Rose, city transportation manager. “And the demand on it is far below that.”

Coun. Erin Hemmens said the project is a good one if it can introduce cycling infrastructure without interrupting traffic, and others agreed, including Coun. Ben Geselbracht.

“I’m excited about utilizing this road more effectively,” he said. “I think it’s going to connect the waterfront with downtown more effectively and as we slowly build out our roads to look like modern roads where there’s an established bike network throughout the town, we’ve got to do it chunk by chunk, bit by bit.”

story continues below

Coun. Ian Thorpe opposed the project for a few reasons, predicting it will be under-used, won’t benefit a majority of residents, and will cause problems in the future if, for example, a hotel gets built on the Hilton site. He also pointed out that the staff presentation failed to mention that Front Street strata residents would prefer the cycle track project not proceed.

“I support improved amenities for cycling, for pedestrians, for active transportation, but I do not support those at the cost of impeding vehicle flow,” Thorpe said. “Because the reality is our city is growing tremendously quickly, we are going to have more and more cars on our streets whether we like it or not and we have to be able to handle them.”

Coun. Tyler Brown said it’s one thing to support plans in principle, but it’s another to implement those plans with budget dollars.

“I would even be as bold as to say this is the best $400,000 we could spend on active transportation and in the downtown in general, from what’s been presented so far,” he said.

Hemmens said if there were a referendum, most residents probably wouldn’t support the expenditure, but said community leaders need to look past the short-term.

“We have plans in place that say this is a value we hold,” she said.

Council voted in favour of staff’s recommendation to approve the final designs of the cycle track and move project funding forward to 2020, from 2021. Councillors Thorpe and Sheryl Armstrong were opposed.

READ ALSO: Nanaimo council won’t OK Front Street bike lanes right now

READ ALSO: City of Nanaimo looking at closing two lanes of Front Street, adding bike lanes

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

City Hall

Just Posted

UPDATED: Young deckhands backed out of fatal Arctic Fox II trip just before fishboat departed

Inexperienced twin brothers had ‘gut feeling’ and bailed before going to open ocean

High-volume littering at Cape Scott draws ire from hiking groups

Popular Vancouver Island hiking spot not closing, but frustration about crowding grows

Hearing begins into blind community’s complaint against BC Transit, City of Victoria

Complainant says bike lane infrastructure biased against blind pedestrians

More than $800,000 in suspected cocaine seized from ship near Victoria

RCMP Dive Team suspects more narcotics had been stored below ship’s waterline

One man in hospital with severe injuries after small fire in Victoria apartment building

Man was found by firefighters responding to multiple 911 calls about smoke on third floor

B.C. records new COVID-19 death, 85 more cases; Horgan calls on celebrity help

This brings the total number of active confirmed cases to 531 across the province

Horvat scores 2 as Vancouver Canucks beat Blues 5-2 in NHL playoff opener

Game 2 in best-of-seven series goes Friday night

Old-growth forest defenders in Campbell River call for B.C. forest minister’s resignation

Protestors outside North Island MLA’s office ask government to stop old-growth logging

Teachers to get 2 extra days to prepare for students’ return, now set for Sept. 10

Students will first start with orientation and learn rules of COVID-19 classroom policies

SFU to drop ‘Clan’ varsity team name

The ‘Clan’ name is shortened from ‘Clansmen,’ and was introduced roughly 55 years ago

Police investigating string of break-ins at closed Saanich care home

Electronics, tools reported stolen from Mount Tolmie Hospital

New Tory leader must build a strong team in Commons and for the campaign: Scheer

Scheer marked his final day in the House of Commons today as leader of the Opposition

B.C. to hire 500 more COVID-19 contact tracers ahead of fall

Contract tracers add an ‘extra layer’ in the fight against the novel coronavirus

37-year-old man missing from Cobble Hill area

He is described as a First Nations man, 5 foot 8 in height

Most Read