City staff are recommending that Cook Street no longer be considered in the next phase of Victoria’s downtown core bike network. Instead, they say the next north-south, all ages and abilities (AAA) route should run along Vancouver Street.
The change has opponents of the original plan very happy.
“We’re pleased that City staff has recognized the impossibility of the Cook Street proposal, and we hope council will too,” said Save Cook Street Coalition member, Robert McConnell, in an email. “A great deal of staff time and expense has been wasted trying to find ways to do what was obviously impossible from the beginning.”
Cook Street had initially been considered because of its connectivity to village centres, and the gentle topography along the streets. However, after further analysis and a lot of public feedback, City staff realized that the amount of traffic along Cook Street from buses and commuters, along with limited space for a physical barrier for cyclists, would be too expensive and too inconvenient to accommodate.
“Further analysis of Cook Street has revealed significant trade-offs required to maintain traffic performance and cycling safety, at intersections, and especially for vehicle turning movements during peak times,” reads a staff report to be discussed by council at committee of the whole tomorrow (May 24).
Vancouver Street has been reassessed as the next option, running from Bay Street toward Dallas Road.
“Vancouver Street represents a more reasonable compromise between safety, cost and traffic performance, when compared to the Cook Street option sets,” states the report.
The largest barrier on Vancouver Street is managing parking spaces, though City staff report that with shared road concepts along certain parts of the roadway, an estimated 30 more spots can be created.
However, McConnell said there are still a few issues the City needs to reconsider in the next phases of their plan, including proposals of construction on Vancouver between Fort Street and Fairfield Road.
“There is plenty of room to convert part of the boulevards to protected bike paths. Instead the staff proposes to use only the existing roadway and add daytime parking, specifically to narrow the roadway and reduce traffic speeds,” he said. “The added risk to motorists and cyclists should be obvious, but apparently it’s not.”
If the Cook Street proposal is shelved, McConnell added, a leg of the Humboldt Street plan destined to end along Pakington Street, should be shelved too.
“It makes no sense to ask cyclists at Humboldt and Vancouver to make a complex and risky uphill S-turn onto Pakington and along a narrow, congested street only to be dumped onto a traffic mixing zone on Cook,” he said.
Thursday’s committee of the whole meeting gets underway at 9 a.m. Depending on the outcome of the discussion, the item could be put forward to a vote by council that evening.
Bike lane concepts for Wharf Street and Humboldt Street are still being discussed, but are presently reported to be 60 per cent complete.