Cycling network has Penticton on a roll

Plan to upgrade cycling network will bring both economic and physical benefits to city residents

The City of Penticton is riding high over figures showing local residents are among the provincial leaders in choosing alternate modes of transportation to and from work.

Recent research indicated that 3.5 per cent of Penticton residents cycle to work (the highest amount in B.C.) while another 13.3 per cent of Pentictonites list walking as their main method of commuting to work.

And a public consultation process launched by the city will go a long way to see those numbers climb even higher. City residents are encouraged to provide their views on where cycling trails can be expanded and what steps could be taken to make cyclists feel safer.

City engineer Ian Chapman pointed out the city already has shared bike lanes on South Main Street, Dawson Avenue, Government Street, Carmi Avenue and Power Street. He said staff have developed concept plans for two potential network extensions that could take place in the near future within the current budget. One is on Warren Avenue, providing dedicated bike lanes from the Wiltse area to Channel Parkway; while the second could be a two-way, left-turn arrangement on Skaha Lake Road between Yorkton Avenue and Channel Parkway.

The city’s long-standing history with Ironman Canada, as well as the recent emergence of the Granfondo Axel Merckx Okanagan as a significant economic generator, show Penticton is on the right path with its plans for an improved cycling network. Ironman draws more than 2,500 competitors to the South Okanagan, while 3,000 cyclists are expected to take part in the 2012 Valley First Granfondo Axel Merckx.

Anything the city can do to get residents out of their cars and using alternate modes of transportation should be encouraged. And improvements to Penticton’s cycling network could help put the city on the path to increased tourism revenue.