It was a big year for bicycles in Penticton in 2021, with the approval and then the construction of the first phases of the controversial Lake-to-Lake Bike Lane.
After planning and public consultation, with plenty of route changes along the way, the bike lane moved into physical reality after a special meeting in March to give it final approval.
It was not a smooth journey by any stretch, with a number of issues raised by residents along the way, as well as other issues. While the first phase of the project was funded through grants and gas tax funding, the second phase approved in 2021 and set for 2022 is budgeted to pull a potential $4.7 million from the city’s reserves, a decision which caused no small amount of controversy among residents.
On top of the projected $8 million for the Lake-to-Lake route, the city’s 25-year infrastructure master plan was completed and included another $7 million in additional potential bike lanes that would, if approved, connect to the Lake-to-Lake route to make a broader network for cyclists in the city.
The first phase of construction began in May 2021 with the last designed stages from Martin Street to Fairview Road the starting point for the project. This included the removal of the parking on the east side of Martin Street.
Before the bike lane had even been completed there had been incidents along it, including multiple instances where a driver clipped and mangled the guide-rails along Martin Street.
In August, the first phase opened with ceremony and dozens of riders.
When winter rolled around, the bike lanes made headlines once again, with Santa taking a trip down the route that had been cleared by the city’s new tractor and purpose-built blade to plow the lanes that cost upwards of $100,000.
More than a few people found another use for the bike lane if not for its intended purpose, taking advantage of the snow removal to use their electric scooters and wheelchairs along it, or even just to walk during the initial snow fall.
Once the work started on the bike lane, it seems there is no stopping it.
Entering into 2022, Penticton is looking to see the next major phase of the bike lane begin construction once the weather warms up, with the $4.7 million project approved by council and awaiting the final design and warm weather.
That approval came down to a narrow 4-3 vote in November, with several councillors calling for the project to be delayed a year.