New Bike infrastructures in Victoria by Gabe Levesque


Cycling in Victoria is getting better or worse, depending on your point of view, but there have been three new additions to the cycling community, and I thought I would check them out.

Today's post we're going to talk about our navigating the new transit and cycling lane on Douglas Street, the new Craigflower bridge and of course a great stopping place for the best popsicles in town at Kid Sister; have you been?

Photo courtesy of Kid Sister

The new Transit and Cycling lanes on Douglas Street

My wife and I met at the Victoria Public Market the other day for supper (the fish and chips and fish tacos from the Cowichan Bay Seafood Co. were super yummy!). We then tested out the new transit and cycling lanes on Douglas between Fisgard and Hillside. We rode between 5:30 and 6:00 pm, so near the tail-end of the window that the lane is open to busses and cyclists only (vehicles are allowed to enter the lane only to make right turns).

Photo courtesy: Victoria Levesque

I’ve always found that middle stretch of Douglas to be unique - it doesn’t seem to have the congestion that the downtown core sees or the upper section just before Uptown. The three lanes on each side may have something to do with it, but I didn’t find the 5 minute ride from the Public Market to Hillside that bad. My wife was positioned at the Times Colonist building and captured some pictures.

Photo courtesy: Victoria Levesque

It was definitely enjoyable to have a whole lane to myself, and most vehicles adhered to the rule to not be in the lane, but the Ford Ranger clearly did not know what to do and was half in the cycling/transit lane, half in the other. The small signs on the telephone poles and other utility poles are hard to see when driving and cycling, but the diamonds on the road are easier. I always find that some colour does wonders for visibility, as is the case with the bright green cycling lanes for making a left onto the Johnson street bridge, or at the railroad crossing on Admirals adjacent to the dockyard. Those are extremely obvious to everyone, and it would help tremendously to add the same to the Douglas street corridor.

 

Photo courtesy: Victoria Levesque

The new cycling and transit lane is a bit short, and unfortunately for me, I just won’t make use of it, as I never ride down Douglas. If I’m heading to Uptown, I’d rather take the Goose. Cycling out to Juan de Fuca as I did last week to pick up my car from Saunders or even out to Royal Roads when I did my Masters, I took the Old Island Highway. Douglas has too many lights and too much exhaust that I don’t wish to breathe in.

Therefore, I applaud the City of Victoria for their efforts, but I would like to see other areas of improvement, as I know they are investigating.

The bike corral at Kid Sister

 

Photo courtesy: Victoria Levesque

If you love yummy and tasty popsicles, then Kid Sister is a must visit. Even more so now, what with the addition of a glorious bike corral out front. We have been frequenting this locale since it was Fruition Paletas, and I was ecstatic to see that the owners elected to install a bike corral.

The Times Colonist article from June 4th highlighted the reasons why: simply because 25% of their customers were cyclists. This is the epitome in my opinion of good cycling and business practices and this model is reminiscent of Portland - there are dozens of bike corrals in that city, yet we only have 2 (the other being in front of David’s Tea and Lady Marmalade on Johnson Street).

By taking one parking spot you give access to 6 potential cycling customers. Elly Blue dissects the bike parking scene in her book Bikeonomics and she goes into great detail about the merits of the bike corrals. There are a number of locations in Victoria where a bike corral would be of great benefit (I know John Luton has been working on a map of bike parking for the city of Victoria). I would love to see the city of Victoria encourage businesses to install bike corrals, as I imagine this is a much cheaper means of promoting bicycle usage than retrofitting a length of Douglas Street.

Now that Kid Sister has the bike corral, we’ll be stopping by even more often in the summer to enjoy their frozen treats.

 

Photo courtesy: Victoria Levesque

The new Craigflower bridge

I saved the best for last. Cycling across this bridge is akin to cycling across the Hawthorne Bridge in Portland. If you’ve ever cycled across the Johnson Street bridge, you know how harrowing it can be. Yes, you are allowed to take the full lane, but you can just feel the cars breathing down your neck. On the Craigflower bridge, there is a dedicated cycling and pedestrian lane (2 separate lanes) on each side of the bridge. Separating you from the traffic is a 3 foot high concrete wall. It is simply a stress-free crossing.

Photo courtesy: Victoria Levesque

My only disappointment is that I will rarely use the bridge, as it nowhere near to where I live or in the vicinity of my weekly bike travels. It is however a wonderful example of what a vehicle-bicycle-pedestrian bridge should look like.

Photo courtesy: Victoria Levesque

I had to investigate what the new Johnson street bridge will look like, as it had been awhile since I saw the plans. From the drawings and map on the city of Victoria website, it looks like there will be the option to ride in a bike lane with traffic if you are an inbound cyclist, or you can use the Galloping Goose style path that will be separate from the traffic. It does appear that the city has done their homework in installing bike friendly lanes. I can’t wait to see and ride it once it’s built.

Photo courtesy: City of Victoria


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