Cycling network gets boost

Pilot project to showcase areas cycling trail networks

Signage will add pedal power to South Okanagan tourism with a pilot project to showcase the area cycling trail network.

On Thursday, the province announced it has invested $100,000 into signage for the trails in the region. That money will be used to install 120 signs around the regional network of trails by the end of July. The web of signage is called the South Okanagan Similkameen Cycling Network.

Mayor Andrew Jakubeit said Penticton has now grown from a self-proclaimed cyclist destination to a provincially recognized one.

“Cycling is part of our identity; part of our culture,” Jakubeit said, citing the KVR trail, Three Blind Mice and the road network that connects everything. “It nurtures a healthy and active lifestyle.”

He added the signs will improve the quality of cycling for all skill levels, whether riders want to take an afternoon stroll through wine country or a multi-day adventure.

As the pilot program, the South Okanagan Similkameen Cycling Network will help guide the creation of the provincial cycling tourism signage and marketing strategy and inspire other potential cycling routes in the province.

“Penticton and the South Okanagan have world-class cycling terrain — road, mountain and recreational cycling. The community truly is a cycling destination, with amenities that support active, healthy lifestyles for local residents and visitors,” said Jakubeit

Cyclists will also be able to go online to the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen website and find the route they want to take.

The identical signage will be recognizable by a stick-figure cyclist riding on a green path behind a lake and mountains. The design was created by local artist Lindsay Bourque, who serves at the rural projects co-ordinator at the RDOS.

In addition to the new signage and increased funding, the province will double the frequency of sweeps along bike lanes, as well as install more roadside barriers.

“This makes the roads safer for everyone. This is going to make it a lot easier to get around,” said RDOS chair Mark Pendergraft. “People come from around the world to ride, train and race throughout the South Okanagan-Similkameen. Now the required infrastructure will be put in place to support that interest and make it safer for everyone.”

Because of lobbying efforts to come from throughout Penticton, especially by Jakubeit at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities, Minister of Transportation Todd Stone said he “learned how passionate this community is about cycling.”

Over the next three years, the provincial program BC on the Move will match up to $18 million for municipalities looking to invest in cycling infrastructure, which is an increase of 50 per cent. It is one of the commitments made in the province’s 10-year transportation plan.

“I’m thrilled to see this vision finally becoming a reality, thanks to the drive and passion of everyone at the Regional District and the city,” said Penticton MLA Ashton. “We already boast so many reasons to visit the South Okanagan and Similkameen areas. This new cycling network will only enhance our outstanding reputation as a first-class destination.”

On June 12, the area surrounding the Penticton Peach was reopened after upgrades were made to the walkway. Additionally, a large map of the South Okanagan Similkameen Cycling Network was installed by the city, and a bike hub was donated by the Bike Barn. The hub offers cyclists the use of an air pump, water bottle filling station, and all the tools needed to fix a bike.