Proposal for Courtenay bicycle lanes expected to go to public for feedback

A new Fitzgerald Avenue cycling lane design is back on the Courtenay council table.

A new Fitzgerald Avenue cycling lane design is back on the table.After public input about one year ago was mixed on the design for off set bike lanes between 26th Street and Second Avenue — with some concerns around losing curb side parking — Courtenay staff reviewed it internally and made modifications.Courtenay director of operational services Kevin Lagan said the new design — which uses paint to designate cycling lanes on each side of the avenue — is as up-to-date as possible, and is similar to what’s used in Europe.He added staff took concerns about the loss of curb side parking into account, but even with this design some parking would have to go.Green painted zones indicate the area for cyclists along the road, with parts leading up to intersections left bare for vehicles to cross cyclists’ paths when making righthand turns. The double left turn lane in the middle of the road would be eliminated. The design has been looked at by the Cycling Public Advisory Committee, and the next step is getting B.C. cycling infrastructure consultant Richard Drudle’s opinion.”The plan is to talk to the expert,” said Lagan, adding, “then have an open house again, and make sure we’re still on the right track for the majority of everyone, and then bring it back to council for acceptance of the plans.”Lagan added the only cost with this design is paint, and if approved, the project could take a little as two weeks to complete depending on the weather.Coun. Bill Anglin questioned why the cycling lanes need to be on a busy road, and suggested Piercy Avenue instead.Couns. Manno Theos and Starr Winchester echoed his concerns.Coun. Doug Hillian pointed out that the lanes are for people who ride their bikes along Fitzgerald because they need a very direct route across the city, and this design would make it safer for them.Lagan noted Fitzgerald Avenue is very wide — more than 66 feet — so it can fit bike lanes without physical widening. He added road corridors were mainly built vehicle traffic traffic in mind, but the focus now shifting to include other modes of transportation.”And yes it’s a busy road, and yes it carries a lot of different types of traffic, including cyclists at the present time, and I think what we have to do is look at how we can mix these different modes together safely,” he said.Coun. Jon Ambler noted the design is not perfect, but pointed out other cities have similar bike lanes, the design was created using the newest information available to City staff, and the design will be looked over by an expert.He added it’s been a year since Fitzgerald was chosen and moving the lanes to another street would only put off the project longer.”If we continue to, each time we get close to doing one street, say ‘well there’s a better street three blocks away,’ we’ll actually accomplish nothing and we’re not actually elected to accomplish nothing, we’ve been elected to get on with it,” said Ambler.Mayor Larry Jangula pointed out the elimination of some parking could cause public opposition to the design, as it was a concern with the previous design as well.”I guarantee you we’re going to get some serious push-back, especially if parking is eliminated, because some of them have businesses some of them have homes and in many cases there’s no back alley entrance,” he said.He suggested just one cycling lane so that curb side parking could be kept along the avenue, but added he looks forward to hearing what people think of the current design.writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com