Cyclists will have their say

Cyclists will get to have a say in what kind of bike lane is created on Fitzgerald Avenue.

Cyclists will get to have a say in what kind of bike lane is created on Fitzgerald Avenue.

City staff has recommended that offset bike lanes be provided between moving traffic and parking spots on both sides of Fitzgerald between 26th Street and Second Street, but council decided Monday to wait until it has heard from the cycling community to make a decision.

“Fitzgerald between 26th Street and Second Street is currently signed as a bike route because it provides an important north-south connection to the west side of Courtenay by linking east Courtenay through the Fifth Street and 17th Street bridges,” the directors of community, planning and operational services wrote in their report to council.

“However, the route is only designated by curb/sidewalk-mounted signs, which results in ambiguity to cyclists regarding their rights on the road.”

Parking along the bike route continues to be an issue for residents and business owners who wish to maintain parking on the street adjacent to their property and cyclists who have minimal — and undesignated — space to travel between moving traffic and parked cars, according to the report.

During the construction of the Cliffe Avenue widening project, Fitzgerald was used as an alternative route for motorists and cyclists, and temporary no-stopping signs were set up between 26th and 17th streets. Those signs were taken down last week.

Staff compared four different bike lane options based on traffic/pedestrian conflict, maintenance costs, snow plowing, the capital cost, the impediment to the phased expansion of bike routes, the likelihood of enhancing ridership, and cycle/vehicle conflict.

“While the alternative with the most favourable score would involve retaining no stoppping on Fitzgerald, the social consequences of the initiative go beyond that of a technical recommendation,” wrote staff.

“We have recommended that the offset bike lane on both sides will provide a reasonable solution to providing cycling lanes on Fitzgerald Avenue between 26th Street and Second Street.”

Coun. Ronna-Rae Leonard wanted staff’s recommendation to be referred to the Comox Valley Cycling Task Force for its input.

While Coun. Murray Presley had no problem with a bicycle lane on Fitzgerald Avenue, he was concerned about the safety of the offset bike lane, particularly for children, noting there is no barrier to moving traffic, and someone in a parked car could open the door and hit a cyclist.

In the end, council decided to refer staff’s report to the Cycling Task Force.