There have been many letters to the editor and comments on social media questioning why the city of Penticton has to spend $1.5 million to put in new protected bike lanes on South Main when painted lanes already exist on this street.
The existing bike lanes have been on South Main for many years but now city staff are proposing concrete barriers on either side of the street to create separated bike lanes that will connect up to the Lake-to-Lake bike lane. The new concept 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. She has answered why painting the existing bike lanes green to match up to the Lake-to-Lake path isn’t good enough.
“The goal of the protected bike lanes is to create a safe environment for riders of all ages and abilities. The painted lines don’t provide the protection that is set out in both the provincial and international standards that we want for our users,” said Dixon in response to the Western News question.
“We want more people to take advantage of the benefits of using active modes of transportation and eliminating the dangers – buffering from opening car doors, speeding traffic, etc – will allow more people to take part whether they’re five or 85,” she added.
The city says parking won’t be greatly impacted on the side of the road closest to the Seniors’ Drop-In Centre.
“Because of the generous road width, there may be opportunities to add trees to make the area greener as well,” the city said earlier.
Dixon pointed to several studies, some out of Vancouver and Toronto, that say protected bike lanes cut down cyclist injuries and fatalities while one study found that bike lanes actually improve driver experience by lowering speeds.
In a study looking at the routes 690 cyclists took when injured, they found that shared car bike lanes, traffic circles downhill grades and construction were among the causes for injury.
The safest route features were:
- cycle tracks (also known as separated bike lanes)
- residential street bike routes with traffic diversion
- bike lanes on major streets with no parked cars
- off-street bike paths
- vehicle speeds < 30 km/h at intersections
Work is wrapping up on the draft design, with a goal of reviewing it with the community in May, said Dixon. The city will hold an open house, an online information session and online feedback opportunities.