Comox Valley residents pondering options for Fitzgerald bike lanes

A City of Courtenay public meeting Monday to ask for feedback on two options for cycling lanes on Fitzgerald packed the allotted space.

COURTENAY RESIDENT AND cyclist Don Munroe looks over the proposed options for bike lanes on Fitzgerald Avenue in Courtenay. City staff outlined two options at a public meeting Monday and asked for feedback.

COURTENAY RESIDENT AND cyclist Don Munroe looks over the proposed options for bike lanes on Fitzgerald Avenue in Courtenay. City staff outlined two options at a public meeting Monday and asked for feedback.

A City of Courtenay public meeting Monday to ask for feedback on two options for cycling lanes on Fitzgerald Avenue from 26th Street to Second Street packed the allotted space.

The first option is for offset cycle lanes, which would feature two painted on 1.5-metre cycling lanes on each side of the avenue.

The second option is for a two-way cycle track, which would feature one two-way cycling lane, possibly with a cement barrier separating it from the rest of the avenue.

According to Courtenay environmental planner Nancy Hofer, who presented the options at the meeting, both proposals are designed to calm traffic on the avenue.

“It’s very wide (now) — it’s kind of a sea of asphalt and people can kind of migrate and drift all over in their own lane, so when you start to channelize and put more paint and lanes down, it makes people pay more attention and stay in the lane, and slow down as well,” she told the packed room at the Sid Williams Theatre lobby.

Plans for the offset cycle lanes only were presented to Courtenay council at the end of May, but Hofer noted City staff met with consultant Richard Drudle since then, who strongly suggested the idea for the two-way lane.

She pointed out differences between the two proposals — offset cycle lanes such as ones that already exist in Comox would enhance safety for existing cyclists and affect both sides of the avenue. A two-way cycle track that would be new to the Comox Valley would encourage new cyclists and affect one side of the avenue.

Both options would need careful consideration around intersection planning and be pilot projects, meaning data would be collected and included in the City’s Master Transportation Plan.

Hofer noted the City asked for public input on plans for a cycling lane along the avenue about one year ago, and due to comments and concerns, made modifications to the ideas.

About 50 per cent of the people at this meeting raised their hands when asked if they were at the meeting last year, and again comments, concerns, and questions were voiced.

On-street parking would be reduced by 12 per cent with both options, which was a worry to some residents. Also, residents were concerned about access to their driveways if a cement barrier was installed. Hofer said there would be breaks in the barrier, but some residents were still concerned about the ease of entry and exit.

Snow maintenance, decreasing property values, and the ability for large trucks to make turns at intersections were also among the concerns.

One person suggested creating multi-modal transportation lanes, which would include other uses such as wheelchairs as well as bikes. Another suggested using the two-way cycle track option minus the cement barrier.

Both options also include: standardized sight lines at all intersections; a sidewalk on the west side from 21st Street to 26th Street; crosswalks with signals at 10th, 19th and 23rd streets; crosswalk refuge islands; and a reconfiguration of the two-way left turn lane between Eighth and 10th streets.

Hofer noted spending has not been budgeted for either proposal. The plans, including public comments, are expected to come back before council in August.

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