A request from a scooter user for improved access along the Ryan Road hill sparked a lengthy discussion about roads and sidewalks at Courtenay council June 15.
John Higginbotham suggests a widened walkway on both sides of Ryan would increase accessibility at the new regional hospital. He says the north side of the sidewalk is too narrow if two scooters happen to pass each other. He would like it be four metres wide.
Lesley Hatch, director of engineering and public works, said the project proposal is ambitious and complex considering the steep hill, sharp hillsides and narrow road right of way. Adding bulk and volume to the width of the road is challenging. She figures a four-metre sidewalk on one side of Ryan would cost around $750,000.
“That’s a huge investment to prioritize when there’s other competing infrastructure needs,” Hatch said. “We have some projects in the queue that will help feed better modelling decisions around network connectivity.”
Mayor Larry Jangula wonders about the feasibility of a route through the McLauchlin Drive/Muir Road area to access the hospital.
“There’s no easy route to get there,” he said.
Coun. David Frisch is concerned the City is taking a “piecemeal approach” when it comes to transportation improvements for pedestrians and non-motorized vehicles.
“When we talk about gaps in the system for people traveling by scooter, or bicycle, it isn’t so much gaps as just an overall lack of infrastructure,” Frisch said. “I’d love to talk about an actual plan so that in 25 years we can see we have a connected system, not just a few odd streets.”
Hatch said a priority project is to update the road master plan that considers factors such as intersections and traffic volumes. A goal is to work with the Comox Valley Cycling Coalition to develop an improved map for bike routes.
Another challenge is sidewalk linkages.
“There are a number of gaps in our sidewalk network today,” Hatch said.
While Ryan Road at least contains a sidewalk leading from Back Road to the college, Hatch notes that pedestrians are walking on the shoulder of the road at the bottom of the hill.
“That’s a really big gap in our network on an arterial road that may need to be part of our prioritization list in the future,” she said.