Hundreds of cyclists gave their two cents at the Pedal Penticton event on Saturday in Gyro Park.
The city collected surveys and feedback from residents about implementing a lake-to-lake cycling route, as well the Penticton and Area Cycling Association (PACA), OneSky Community Resources and other community businesses and organizations provided additional resources and information to those in attendance.
“We’ve been absolutely overwhelmed by the participation today, we’ve had hundreds upon hundreds of people of all ages coming and wanting to share their support for cycling. What was really interesting is that there’s a large population of people that want to cycle, but they don’t feel safe,” said Joanne Klebb, engagement strategist with the city. “So they are very keen to see safe, all ages and abilities cycling routes come to town so that they can cycle more.”
Laura Harp, past president and social director with PACA, said she’s not surprised by the number of people interested in cycling in the city, but did note that the common perception seems to be that they are only a small percentage of residents. She echoed Klebb’s sentiments that overall, people would be cycling more in the city if it was made more accessible and safe.
“We know that this is an active community, but people’s impressions in the past were that we didn’t have that many cyclists or that it was a very small group of people. One of the reasons we started the bike valet was to prove that if you put in the bike facilities, people are excited to use them,” said Harp. “We haven’t heard any negative feedback (about a lake-to-lake cycling route), the biggest thing we’ve been hearing is stories about why people don’t ride their bike more, or how they find it inconvenient, inefficient or unsafe when they do.”
The survey also asks residents about their comfortability with increasing the city’s budget for things such as snow removal from bike routes, installing barriers for separated bike lanes, etc. Harp said all of this is a good start, but she would like to see the city focus on routes throughout the city, not just a north-south one for lake-to-lake cycling.
Klebb said the city is working with consultants to identify some options for a safe cycling north-south route and how it could be implemented with the latest innovations in the industry. She said following this event, the next step will be to bring the feedback their heard to city council, who will give the project further direction.
Engagement and communication will be key in rolling out cycling routes in any form, something Klebb said the city will be ramping up its efforts on. Harp said PACA is also trying to keep their members engaged and noted that the association is a great resource for cyclists looking to connect with one another.
“Truthfully, we haven’t really talked about cycling since 2012 when we did the update to our community plan. So that’s one of the questions we’re asking people is how aware are they that this work exists,” said Klebb. “So that’s an area we can definitely beef up on as we move forward. “
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