Regional cycling lanes scored nearly $1 million in funding from the province on Wednesday (June 13).
Oak Bay, Victoria and Qualicum Beach were among 18 communities funded by BikeBC grants for cycling projects that support green transportation options and encourage healthy, active lifestyles.
“This will boost biking right across British Columbia. We all know it’s a healthy, green thing to do as an active and alternate transporation,” said Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen.
Victoria was awarded $895,000 for the Wharf Street protected bike lanes.
The Wharf Street lanes would run from Pandora Avenue and eventually link up to Humboldt and continue all the way to Cook Street.
On Wharf, a two-way protected bike lane would run along the west side of the street alongside the ocean and Inner Harbour. Along this strip, 21 out of 45 parking stalls will be lost, with a majority of them being between Yates and Fort Streets to make room for the lanes, and also to realign the crosswalk coming from Bastion Square. Between Fort and Government streets, 10 parking spots plus one motorcycle parking spot will be added next to the protected bike lanes.
Oak Bay was awarded $78,160 for its Cadboro Bay Road bike lanes project.
The Cadboro Bay Road Bike Lane Cycle Feasibility Study included options for the Foul Bay to Bee Street area, and options for bike lanes from Bee Street to Bowker.
“We have two versions of the bike lane, one of them more expensive than the other,” Jensen said. “We have to choose between two options, one is a little more expensive and has more surface treatment. That may now allow us to get a little better bike lane infrastructure up there.”
He expects council will choose between the options, ranging from $170,000 to $250,000 later this month with the project completed by fall 2018.
“To have this bike lane where it’s a wonderful thing for the students. We’ve seen since the new school opened a huge increase in the number of students getting to school by bicycle. In fact they’ve had to put more bike racks in there, and then more bike racks, and they still don’t have enough,” Jensen said. “This will be another encouragement for students to come to school on their bicycle.”
The Town of Qualicum Beach will received $695,308 to complete the separated bike path on the upper portion of Memorial Avenue as part of the reconstruction of Mmeorial Avenue from uptown Qualicum Beach to the waterfront.
“Improvements to the cycling route to link uptown to the waterfront along Memorial Avenue was a top priority in the Official Community Plan Review, Qualicum Beach Cycling Plan and Age-Friendly Transportation Plan Update,” according to the news release from the town.
Town planner Luke Sales the completion of the bike path “will fill in the missing link needed to make Memorial Avenue a safe and convenient part of the transportation network and encourage healthy living through cycling.”
BikeBC is the province’s cost-sharing program that helps communities build cycling projects that support green transportation options and healthy, active lifestyles, while attracting tourism cyclists.
“Cycling is a popular form of transportation and recreation, with 1.9 million B.C. residents riding a bike at least once a year,” said Richard Campbell, executive director of the British Columbia Cycling Coalition. “With 2.3 million British Columbians wanting to cycle more, these projects funded through BikeBC will help make communities safer, healthier and more affordable — in addition to helping B.C. realize its potential when it comes to cycling tourism, and the economic benefits that come with it.”
Cycling is on the rise in British Columbia, with the number of people who bike to work increasing by 64 per cent since 1996. Biking 10 kilometres to work each day can save up to 15,000 kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions each year.