It's cramped going along Stamp Avenue in Port Alberni for bicycle commuter Sandra Innes Gentleman on Monday afternoon. Bike lanes along main arteries such as these are in order

City mulls bike lane pitch

Adding bike lanes to Alberni’s road will encourage people to get out of their cars, get them on bicycles and keep them safe while riding

Adding bike lanes to Port Alberni’s road network will encourage people to get out of their cars, get them on bicycles and keep them safe while doing it, a local cycling advocate said.

City councillors voted to receive a letter from Sandra Innes-Gentleman that advocates for designated bike lanes to the city’s main arterial roads.

“Safety of riding on the roads/highways around the Alberni Valley can be an issue,” said Innes-Gentleman.

Some riders in town commute to work five times per week while Innes-Gentleman commutes once per week, she said. She commutes from South Port along Third Avenue, Stamp Avenue and across Johnston Road.

There are no designated bike lanes along the Alberni Valley’s main arterial routes and this makes for a challenging commute, said Innes Gentleman, who added that she’s had a close call or two.

There is bare road on the Catalyst side of the road and a sidewalk across the street. “I don’t want to use the sidewalk because it’s meant for pedestrians,” she said.

She rides with traffic along the roads and obeys traffic laws. “But you feels exposed and vulnerable when traffic goes by right beside you,” she said.

Designated bike lanes should be added to arteries such as Third and Stamp Avenues, lower Redford Street, Roger Street and Johnston Road, she said. The roads are wide enough to conceptualize the idea and adding the lanes could be cost efficient, she added.

Other communities such as Victoria, where Innes-Gentleman lived previously, employ bike lanes successfully, often tying them to trail networks, she said.

The city isn’t ready for cycling lanes and they are a lower priority than road repairs, Coun. Hira Chopra said.

“I don’t think we need it and it should be in the back burner,” Chopra said.

The city met with a cycling group a few years ago and established a designated cycling lane along the Redford Street extension, city engineer Guy Cicon said. “But there is no bike lane master plan,” he said.

Work involved in creating such lanes would include widening roads if need be or re-proportioning existing roads, Cicon said. “It’s more than just painting,” he said.

If the city is to proceed with new bike lanes then it’s critical that people understand how they work with regards to regular traffic, particularly at junctions such as intersections where cyclists and cars converge, Cicon said.

There would be benefit to linking bike lanes with the city’s walking trail network, he added.

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