Council unanimously votes to allocate funds for bike lanes on Courtenay avenue

Courtenay council unanimously decided to set aside $50,000 from next year's budget for a cycling lane on Fitzgerald Avenue.

Courtenay council unanimously decided to set aside $50,000 from next year’s budget for a cycling lane on Fitzgerald Avenue.

City environmental planner Nancy Hofer told council Monday that if this money is allocated to the project in the 2013 budget, City staff could apply for the Cycling Infrastructure Partnership Program, which is a 50-50 cost-sharing grant from the Province. The grant application deadline is at the end of this month.

Hofer also presented council with an overview of comments from the recent public meeting about the proposed Fitzgerald Avenue retrofit ideas — including two options for cycling lanes — and she noted the public had warmed to the idea somewhat since the previous public meeting just over a year ago.

“I think in the beginning there was a reluctance to want to talk about any kind of retrofits to the street, and the tone was certainly more constructive, I would say, a year later,” she said. “Overall all the traffic calming items were very highly favoured by everybody; whether they live on the street or not, whether they cycle or not, traffic calming was seen as a priority.”

According to Hofer, both cycling lane options would calm traffic.

Option A is for offset cycle lanes, which would feature painted 1.5-metre cycling lanes on each side of the avenue. Option B is for a two-way cycle track on one side of the avenue, possibly with a cement barrier separating it from vehicle traffic.

Both options would stretch between Second and 26th streets.

Hofer noted a public interest in Option B because the separate cycling lane with a barrier tends to encourage more cyclists to use it, as they feel safer. However, she also pointed out area residents seemed to prefer Option A.

“They seemed to feel it was less impactful with not having the barriers and that kind of thing out front of their driveway, and of course it was seen to evenly affect the road, which was an interesting perspective,” explained Hofer.

Council was not asked to vote on the options — Hofer pointed out both of the them are early in the planning stages — rather, the vote was solely on whether to further refine the options and allocate the $50,000 to the project in next year’s budget.

According to the report, the following Fitzgerald retrofit elements are possible regardless of the cycling option chosen: Standardized sight lines at all intersections; a sidewalk on the west side from 21st to 26th Street; cross walks with signals at 10th, 19th and 23rd streets; use of crosswalk refuge islands; delineated and reduced travel lane widths; and reconfiguration of the two-way left turn lane between Eighth and 10th streets.

Further details on all aspects of the proposed project are expected to be presented to council later this summer.