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Project's abrupt end at oak bay border highlights municipal disconnect over biking
Construction is now in progress on a build-out of Victoria’s Fort Street bike lanes. Over about 10 months, the city will add protected two-way lanes from Cook to the Fort-Yates junction, protected one-way lanes from that junction to the eastern edge of the city at Foul Bay Road, and about two blocks of painted lanes on Foul Bay.
Currently, the Fort bike lanes change to painted lanes east of Cook and then cross to the other side of the street as they crest the hill. Victoria Mayor Marianne Alto said in a statement that making Fort safer was a priority from the public during cycling network consultations.
The $11.7M project, funded in part with federal Active Transportation grants, will bring that stretch up to the usual AAA (All Ages and Abilities) safety and usability standard.
The 2.7km bike lane project is being merged with other work the city had slated for Fort, including upgrades to road crossings, lighting, and/or traffic signals at over a dozen points along the route. Central Middle will get a covered bike parking shelter, to make it easier for students and staff to bike to school, and the slip lane next to it will be removed and replaced with a public plaza. Island Health also anticipates the upgrades will make it easier for Royal Jubilee staff to cycle.
The upgrades end at the border of Oak Bay, a district that has done significantly less bike network expansion than neighbouring Victoria and Saanich. Since passing its active transportation strategy 12 years ago, it has added only about 500m of bike lanes.
Oak Bay’s council has at times been directly at odds with Victoria’s over cycling infrastructure, such as with the Richardson plan. In this current case, Oak Bay supported this Fort plan over other options such as a Fort-Leighton hybrid route or lanes going from Pandora through to Oak Bay Avenue.
A proposal to do community consultation on making a part-time bike lane on Henderson full-time was defeated in February and redirected to the overall strategic priorities planning process.
Read more on those municipal divides, and the overall plans for local bike infrastructure, in last year’s cycle-network feature story.