Courtenay council voted Monday to proceed with constructing bike lanes on both sides of Fitzgerald Avenue from Eighth to 21st streets.
The project, worth about $35,000, needs to be completed by Dec. 4 to secure funds from the provincial Cycling Infrastructure Partnership Program.
The design is intended to balance the needs of all users of the Fitzgerald corridor.
At a recent public information session, 58 per cent of comments said the design is a great first step towards fewer shared lanes and a greater number of dedicated bike lanes. A quarter of the comments said to ‘just do it’ while nine per cent said not to.
Eight per cent of comments were from Fitzgerald residents concerned about potential impacts of subsequent phases of the project.
“I think it’s important the City move forward with this,” Coun. Doug Hillian said.
“I think this is an easy first step to see what we can do,” Coun. Bill Anglin said. “It’s about having options for people.”
Coun. Starr Winchester and Mayor Larry Jangula opposed the motion.
Winchester, who has struggled with the proposal, has heard negative comments about bike lanes being used by skateboarders, as an example. She therefore feels council should not encourage more bike traffic on Fitzgerald.
Jangula noted 106 residents signed a petition last year against the bike lanes. He would prefer to see paving on part of the walking trail adjacent to the railway tracks. Jangula is also concerned about the removal of parking spots and the lack of back-alley access at Fitzgerald.
Coun. Ronna-Rae Leonard noted bike/pedestrian lanes on the Great Northern Way thoroughfare in Vancouver has been an investment for business as well as the community.
“Change is hard,” she said. “I’m excited we’re taking this step.”
Coun. Jon Ambler — who feels Courtenay should have bike lanes on Fitzgerald as well as the E&N trail — noted only five parking spots are lost when sightline protection is considered.
City staffers have attempted to maintain safe traffic sightlines at Fitzgerald intersections and to maximize cycling space without changing the road for motorists.
Parking has been reduced by about 38 stalls out of 160. Thirty-three of the spaces will be eliminated to protect sightlines.