Build it and they will come, apparently.
Over 200 cyclists of all ages turned out Sunday morning to be the first to ride the new bike lane up Martin Street.
“We have a five-year-old and people in their 80s and 90s here today. That’s what this bike lane was built for,” said Mayor John Vassilaki before he cut the ribbon. “This is for protecting all ages. This bike lane is going to be great for Penticton.”
Councillors Katie Robinson and Campbell Watt cycled the bike lane while the mayor and coun. Frank Regehr were taken down the path in chariot-style tri-shaws courtesy of Cycling Without Age.
South Okanagan-West Kootenay MP Richard Cannings, a cycling advocate, was also one of the first to cycle the new bike lane.
“Thanks for coming out in such huge numbers to support this bike lane. I know this bike lane will change how we cycle in Penticton and encourage people to take active transportation, keeping fit and healthy,” said Cannings.
The two-way cycle track that is now open stretches from Lakeshore Drive to White Avenue. It took cyclists less than five minutes to cycle up and back.
This section of the bike path has cost over $2 million, with the entire Lake to Lake coming in at around $8 million once complete.
For Dave and Allison who live downtown on Main Street, they are excited to see when the whole bike lane from Lake to Lake finishes.
“This is long overdue,” said Allison who was happy to see such a huge turnout on Sunday, even with the smoke.
Another couple who have E-bikes said since switching over to E-bikes they can easily do 40 km of biking a day compared to the 10 km they used to do on a traditional bike.
“We got out to Chute Lake and back before we had to recharge the battery,” said the e-cyclists. They are excited about using the downtown bike path.
The Penticton and Area Cycling Association was, of course very excited to be there and be a part of the day as was Freedom Bike Shop and Bike Barn which were offering e-bike demos and bike valets.
The bike lane is a hugely divisive decision by council who voted in favour of building the cycle path during the pandemic.
City council turned down Mayor Vassilaki’s motion to add five police officers to help public safety, saying it was too expensive. Instead council, opted to hire two more police officers. This comes after Statistics Canada data showed Penticton has the highest crime rate in the Okanagan.
In the city’s 25 year master infrastructure plan, a total of $32 million in bike lanes are proposed for all of Penticton.
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