By David F. Rooney
City Council has approved a plan for dedicated bike lanes along Fourth Street East with parking removed from the north side of the street from Townley to the Illecillewaet Bridge, but only once “a qualified transportation engineer” has reviewed and okayed the plan.
Council voted to approve the lanes and the temporary, seasonal removal of parking along the north side of Fourth Street from April until October.
“Implementation of this recommendation will be subject to an engineering review by a qualified transportation engineer,” said a report to
Council from Planning Director John Guenther.
His report noted that some residents will need some time to adjust to the removal of parking as the rear lanes where they might otherwise be expected to park are often inadequate.
Enhancement Committee Chairwoman Toni Johnston said that, overall, three public meetings the committee held in June showed the public is, by and large, very supportive of the bike-lanes concept.
She said 85 per cent of the 70 people who visited an information table set up at Southside Market on June 23 supported trial bike lanes, 24 provided written letters and 21 completed questionnaires. A community group meeting on June 28 yielded broad approval of a trial period for the bike lanes and concerns about the loss of parking when back alley or “rear yard parking is challenging.” A lot of comment was also generated during a presentation about bike lanes held at the Village Idiot on June 2, Johnston said.
There was also concern about the CPR ‘Y’ at fourth and Victoria. Suggestions for that ranged from treating that intersection “as a dismount intersection with pedestrian traffic directed to cross at the south side and walk into the Fourth Street corridor.
But public support for the bike lanes has not been universal.
Starting last week week symbols for the bike lanes were painted on Douglas, Charles and Third Streets, but there have already been several complaints from motorists about cyclists they claim seem to think the symbols mean they have the right of way to ride down the centre of the lanes.
“We have to educate cyclists that they do not own the roads,” said Councillor Gary Starling.
His colleague, Steve Bender, went even further and questioned the wisdom of creating bike lanes in the first place. He said there are plenty of claims about bike lanes’ value to gto everything from tourism to safety but he doubts whether they are true.
“Is it just a warm and fuzzy thing to do?” he asked. “We have had no deaths in the last ten years but we’ve had a thousand close calls. You don’t see dedicated bike lanes in Europe and they’re not complaining. Nobody’s likely to believe this but I’m not anti-cyclist.”
He said he’d like some sober thought applied to the issue.
Councillor Phil Welock said more enforcement of traffic laws will likely force most cyclists to pay attention to what they are doing on the roads. Too many act as though the rules and the common courtesies of the road don’t apply to them. Many still refuse to wear helmets, drive on the wrong side of the road, blow through stop signs and pass cars and trucks on the inside of corners. Cyclists like that are accidents waiting to happen.
The bike lanes are not being established with local taxpayers’ money. This project is financed using Tourism Infrastructure Project money administered by the Revelstoke Accommodation Association.