Activists push for bike lanes in Port Alberni

Port Alberni city council chambers were standing room only on Monday night as council voted to continue on with bike lane painting.

Cycle Aberni organizer Sarah Thomas cycles north in a new bike lane along 10th Avenue last week. Cycling advocates will be celebrating the new bike lanes on Friday

Port Alberni city council chambers were standing room only on Monday night as more than 80 residents and cycling advocates came out to show their support for the city’s bike lane initiative.

“A bike lane to a bike rider is like a crosswalk to a pedestrian. It’s really just white lines on the road but it gives everybody a safe indication to know where we can expect to see each other,” said longtime cyclist and Cycle Alberni member Bill Brown.

Council had originally put a halt to painting bike lanes last week, stating that they hadn’t received sufficient information from staff.

“I still want to see a proper plan and I don’t see one,” said Coun. Jack McLeman.

The bike lanes being painted currently were approved up to a cost of $50,000 by council as part of the city’s 2016 budget. A matching BikeBC grant leveraged another $50,000 for the project and was awarded several weeks ago. Painting began shortly after.

However, this isn’t the city’s first foray into bike route planning.

In 2013, city council commissioned the Active Transportation Plan.

The plan was completed and adopted by city council in mid-2014 and went to a public consultation session at Harbour Quay in August 2014.

Included within the plan was a proposed on-street bicycle network—the basis for a proposed bike route plan used in two community consultation sessions this winter.

(story continues below)

CAO Tim Pley’s report to council highlighted the city’s ongoing commitment to cycling infrastructure.

“We’ve been discussing bike lanes for a while. Bike lanes are cited in our Active Transportation Plan, our Official Community Plan and in our five year financial plan there is $50,000 budgeted this year,” said Pley.

According to Pley, the already painted bike lanes along Roger Street and 10th Avenue have cost the city $12,700.

“It’s not as simple as just painting a line because this is a first time installation. In the future, if we are re-painting existing lines it will be easier and less expensive.”

The city’s plan includes continuing the bike lanes up 10th Avenue to China Creek Road at a cost of $6,600, from the Gertrude Street bridge up to Roger Street at a cost of $15,000. The remainder, $60,000-65,000, will go towards a proposed off-street bike route along Stamp Avenue.

“Stamp Avenue is a challenge for cyclists, it’s a challenge for our community. On Stamp Avenue we envision developing a path off of the street,” said Pley.

“We don’t have enough money [in the $100,000] to do a path on both sides and we will try stretch that money as far as we can to at least get one side done and perhaps get work started on the other side.”

Other community organizations stepped up to the podium to offer their support for bike lanes.

“In the agenda today, the motion is to accept the [CAO’s] report. We’d like to see a little more action in implementing the Active Transportation Plan and for the city to resume painting the bike lanes,” said Young Professionals of the Alberni Valley president Jolleen Dick, adding that the city’s bike lane initiative coincides with the YPAV’s plans to install bike racks.

“We fundraised money last year to have bike racks in the Alberni Valley.”

Chair of the Greater Nanaimo Cycling Coalition and Director of the BC Cycling Coalition Leo Boon praised the city’s Active Transportation Plan.

“I use your plan in some of my talks because the District of Bowser, where I sit on their stakeholder committee, is putting an active transportation plan. So great work there,” said Boon.

Boon challenged council and resident concerns that there aren’t enough cyclists in Port Alberni to make use of the new bike lanes.

“We don’t want bike lanes for the cyclists because they are already cycling. What your Active Transportation Plan is for is to get the 40 per cent of the population who wants to cycle but feels not safe, uncomfortable, whatever word you want to use. They’re just not happy with the way they get treated in the traffic mix,” said Boon.

Coun. Sharie Minion admitted that she was one of the 40 per cent.

“I’m the 40 per cent who loves to ride my bike but I don’t because I don’t feel comfortable on our roads,” Minions said.

“I think the bike lanes are a great start to getting more people out.”

Coun. Denis Sauve brought up safety concerns.

“All I see right now is scooters, electric wheelchairs and bikers using it not wearing helmets,” Sauve said.

“It’s nice to put the bike lanes is but the biggest thing is education. We have responsible cyclists in this community but the majority of the cyclists are ordinary people and we have to understand that we need to educate them.”

Coun. Dan Washington echoed Sauve’s concerns and added that drivers need education too.

“We really need to get the education out there. These lanes came up on Roger Street and drivers were going ‘what does it mean? What do we have to do?’”

Council passed a motion to have the bike lane painting continue and to initiate talks with the regional district regarding the connectivity of cycling routes throughout the region.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

facebook.com/alberninvalleynews

twitter.com/alberninews

 

Just Posted

Cherry Creek firefighters mourn former deputy chief

Brian Brick is the second Alberni Valley firefighter to die of work-related cancer in January

Port Alberni to consider the future of McLean Mill

City council will be holding a committee of the whole meeting on Jan. 21

Intern gives Port Alberni’s museum artifacts an update

St. John’s man travelled more than 7,000 kms to assist with curatorial duties

BCHL: Bulldogs best Salmon Arm at home

Bulldogs face Powell River in Sunday matinee Jan. 20; puck drop is 2 p.m.

UPDATE: B.C. legislature managers accused of excessive travel, personal expense claims

Clerk Craig James, security chief Gary Lenz call allegations ‘completely false’

B.C. man fined $10,000 after leaving moose to suffer before death

Surrey man was convicted last week on three Wildlife Act charges

‘Blue Monday’ isn’t real, but depression can be

CMHA encourages people to prioritize their mental health

Anti-pipeline group wants NEB to consider impact of emissions, climate change

Stand.earth filed NEB motion asking to apply same standard to the project as it did with Energy East pipeline

Parole granted for drunk driver who killed B.C. RCMP officer

Kenneth Jacob Fenton will be able to attend alcohol abuse treatment, nearly three years after crash that killed Const. Sarah Beckett

B.C. man charged in 2014 snake venom death of toddler

Henry Thomas was taking care of the North Vancouver girl the day before she died

B.C.’s largest public-sector union wants inquiry into money laundering, drugs

Union officials say Premier John Horgan and Attorney General David Eby have not ruled out the possibility of a public inquiry

Teen in confrontation with Native American: I didn’t provoke

Nick Sandmann of Covington Catholic High School said he was trying to defuse the situation

Vancouver Island senior dies after medical emergency and rollover crash

Incident happened Saturday in Nanaimo on Poplar Street

Most Read