Citizens are holding a public meeting tonight (May 9) at 6:30 p.m. against the bike lane barriers that the city wants to install down South Main Street.
The meeting is being held at the Penticton Seniors’ Drop-In Centre and is open to anyone with concerns or wants to learn more about why the barriers won’t work for South Main.
Ron Barillaro will provide a presentation comparing bike lanes in other cities that safely exist as painted lanes. But anyone is welcome to speak and/or ask questions, said organizers.
A petition campaign has also started against the bike lanes with more signatures expected to be gathered at the meeting.
“The main issue is the barriers,” said one of the organizers Linda Olson.
“This is a beautiful wide street. The painted lines have been working just fine. Once you put in barriers, it will narrow the street and make it more difficult for service trucks and those getting in and out of the centre and residential buildings. There are a lot of different groups of first responders with concerns as well,” she added.
Olson and others in the group point to how ugly and messy Atkinson Street is now that there are barriers and bike lanes on either side of the road. They don’t want the same for South Main.
“I now hate driving down Atkinson. Not only is it unsafe but it’s extremely ugly,” said Bella Nagy. She once got stuck in front of an ambulance and she had nowhere to pull over because of the bike lane barriers.
“I had to turn off to a side street to let them through. That’s when I knew I couldn’t just sit on my hands and do nothing,” she said. She also is a regular shopper at South Main Market and is concerned about that business.
“But we aren’t against bike lanes. In fact, three of our group are avid cyclists. We just want city council to listen to us about why barriers don’t work.”
The group believes the existing bike lanes down South Main have existed for about 20 years. They haven’t heard of bike lane accidents in that time but since the city hasn’t tracked that, there is no way of knowing if the existing lanes are unsafe, like the city claims.
What the group wants to get across to city council is why the barriers don’t work.
The new bike lanes will remove some parking from South Main and may impact other buildings including one long-time store, the South Main Market. The owners are worried about the viability of their market if these new barriers go in.
Kirsten Dixon, the city’s general manager of infrastructure, is in charge of the Lake-to-Lake bike lane. Dixon said the painted lines don’t provide enough protection for cyclists and concrete barriers are the direction the city is going.
The Seniors Centre is located at 2965 South Main Street.