The time is perfect for Penticton to establish a lake-to-lake safe bicycle route that doesn’t aggravate existing parking shortages. In addition to a growing number of local commuter cyclists, soon there will be cycling masses coming from the north as the Rail Trail connects with the KVR trail to give one of the finest cycling experiences anywhere in the world.
We want these folks to come downtown and enjoy what Penticton has to offer before they carry on to the south.
With the huge growth of popularity of electric bikes, these longer rides can be done by a much wider range of ages and cycling ability.
There is a current recommendation that the city set aside some funds in this budget for a detailed bike route study to be done later this year.
I think we could do some groundwork before that which could streamline the process.
There are three major feeder roads to the central downtown area: Main, Martin and Winnipeg. Of these three, Martin Street looks quite attractive for a cycling route.
With some basic road design, a safe two-way bike lane could be established with very little disruption and Martin has a lot of underused parking.
Martin could deliver cyclists to Fairview Road where a two-way lane could continue on the east side or the path could be split to each side of the road. At the lights of Fairview and Duncan, the bike path could shift to Atkinson and, with very little disruption, could reach down to Skaha Lake via Cornwall and Paris Street.
Once this corridor is established, then spur lines can be connected to the Okanagan College campus, the SOEC and Pen High.
In the next few months, the community may well be asked their opinion on establishing proper bike lanes in the city. As Hospitality and Tourism are our important job creators, bike lanes have almost become an economic development initiative and we need to play catch up with our more bike savvy neighbours.
That input will form part of the study and once the study is complete, thousands of dollars of grants become available. Then the bike path will be built and we can study the results for future routes.
It is no longer a question of whether we need a proper cycling corridor for bike commuters and cycling tourists; we do. Now let’s work together to find the best route to keep cyclists safe and lead to the least disruption possible.