Opinions still divided about bike lanes in Courtenay

Courtenay council will revisit the idea of painting bicycle lanes on Fitzgerald Avenue when city staff reports back on the issue.

Courtenay council will revisit the idea of painting bicycle lanes on Fitzgerald Avenue when city staff reports back on the issue for which $80,000 has been budgeted.

At Monday’s meeting, Coun. Jon Ambler reminded council it has already been briefed on the subject.

“What’s changed?” he said.

Last summer, council decided to set aside money for a cycling lane following a public meeting about retrofit ideas on Fitzgerald. There are two options for cycling lanes, both of which would calm traffic, says city staff.

One option is painting 1.5-metre lanes on each side of the street. A second option is a two-way cycle track on one side of the avenue, possibly with a cement barrier separating it from traffic. Both options would stretch between Second and 26th streets.

Mayor Larry Jangula said it his job to respond to public concern about a designated bike lane on Fitzgerald. He suggests the Rotary Trail, or Rails With Trails that will eventually extend from Courtenay to Victoria next to the railway tracks on the E&N corridor, might be a safer commuter option.

“I think it’s something worth taking a second look at,” Jangula said, noting $80,000 is a hefty sum.

While she considers the Rotary Trail an important project, Coun. Ronna-Rae Leonard feels it does not deal with cycling connectivity in the same manner as Fitzgerald, which is a through street.

Coun. Starr Winchester, who has mixed feelings about a bike lane on Fitzgerald, would like further discussion on the subject. She supports the Rotary Trail, which takes traffic away from Fitzgerald.

Coun. Doug Hillian, who cycles along Fitzgerald on his way to work, notes the City plan designates it as a cycling route. Using the Rotary Trail for commuting purposes does not make sense, he added.

A transportation planning exercise is coming forward.

In Comox, the Town started developing cycling lanes several years ago when the Province made funding available for towns with populations less than 15,000 people. This enabled bike lane work on Guthrie Road and Stewart Street.

Federal gas tax funds and provincial money paved the way to a bike lane along Comox Hill and along the St. Joseph’s Hospital frontage. Comox also has a bike lane along Noel Avenue.

“Give Courtenay credit where it’s due. They have two excellent bikeways on the Sheraton bikeway in East Courtenay and also the Idiens bikeway,” said Comox Mayor Paul Ives, who works in downtown Courtenay.

He feels Fitzgerald is a natural connection with plenty of room for a bike lane.

“It might simply be a matter of putting down some paint and seeing how it works,” Ives said. “It doesn’t require major expenditures.”

Ives considers the Rails With Trails an excellent project, more off-road with its gravel surface, though not as conducive for commuters considering it’s a bit off the beaten track.



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