Radical cyclists peddle sharrow agenda

In the middle of the night, with no warning at all, pedestrian infrastructure was savagely attacked by a gang of bike riding anarchists known to authorities only as the Other Urban Repair Squad (OURS).

In the middle of the night, with no warning at all, pedestrian infrastructure was savagely attacked by a gang of bike riding anarchists known to authorities only as the Other Urban Repair Squad (OURS). Shunning reason and civilization, these brutes painted another round in the series of sharrows marring our streets since 2009.

Or not.

Maybe a group of concerned citizens got together and decided to take up arms (read: paint) in the name of improving local cycling amenities. You figure it out.

Sharrows are road markings indicating a shared-use lane where roads are too narrow to incorporate a bike lane. OURS has been painting these markings around the capital since 2009, focusing on high-traffic areas with little existing bicycle infrastructure.

Yukon Duit, spokesperson for OURS says the group is painting sharrows to highlight the gap between car and bike infrastructure upgrading and maintenance in the capital.

“We’re talking about bike lanes that just disappear into the ether in the middle of a route. Imagine if these were vehicle routes — we would never do that to cars.”

According to councillor John Luton, due process — meaning engineers, studies, and consultation — is still what’s needed. OURS, in contrast, is undemocratic and unsafe. “I want this decision made by professionals, not by the self-appointed vanguard of cyclist’s interests,” Luton says.

Or maybe not.

“This is exactly what democracy looks like. It’s engaged citizens helping to shape the public sphere,” says Duit. “The City of Victoria collapsed its one formal group for cyclists to have their voice, so there’s no longer a direct route for cyclists to communicate our needs to the city.” As far as Duit is concerned, OURS is filling that void.

While the group doesn’t necessarily adhere to Transportation Authority guidelines when applying sharrows, Duit says that’s not the idea.

“Our point is not that we’re using the exact materials and spacing,” Duit says. “Our point is that the city should be doing it. This is the next best thing while we wait for the city and the region to take action. Of course the city is going to do a better job — that’s the whole point.”

In the end, while the goals of activists, radicals and officials (in this case, anyway) appear to coincide, debate over method may still doom future sharrows to less-than-legal status. M

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nanaimo author Haley Healey recently launched her second book, ‘Flourishing and Free: More Stories of Trailblazing Women of Vancouver Island.’ (Photo courtesy Kristin Wenberg)
Nanaimo author pens second book on ‘trailblazing’ Vancouver Island women

Haley Healey’s ‘Flourishing and Free’ follows her 2020 debut ‘On Their Own Terms’

Saanich author Hannalora Leavitt hopes her new book, This Disability Experience, helps to dispel the ‘otherness’ that often surrounds people with disabilities. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Vancouver Island author demystifying disability and dismantling otherness

Hannalora Leavitt, who lives with a visual impairment, wants to change how people look at disability

Michael Demers, performing here as a member of The Lonely, died May 1 after a year-long battle with leukemia. (Photo by Benji Duke)
Victoria music community mourning Michael Demers

Veteran singer-songwriter, co-founder of The Lonely dies at 63 due to leukemia

The Royal B.C. Museum has added a tamba dining set, used by a Punjabi man on his voyage to Canada in 1927, to its ‘100 Objects of Interest’ online collection. (Courtesy of Royal B.C. Museum)
Punjabi dining set added to Royal B.C. Museum’s ‘100 Objects of Interest’ collection

Set used by Indar Singh Gill on his voyage from Punjab to Canada in 1927

Victoria-born musician Bryce Dane Soderberg took to Instagram Monday to call out the Greater Victoria School District on its proposed cuts to elementary and middle school music programs. (Bryce Dane Soderberg/Instagram)
Victoria-born Lifehouse vocalist calls out SD61 on proposed music cuts

‘It will be a big loss to future generations’ Bryce Dane Soderberg posted to his Instagram

Musqueam and Qualicum First Nations artist, Mathew Andreatta, next to several of his ongoing projects, including carvings and illustrations. (Submitted photo)
Island artist considers art a means to reconnect with his Indigenous identity

Andreatta thought of TOSH as a space of learning and creation

Nicolle Nattrass and Michael Armstrong are presenting an online reading on May 9. (Photos courtesy Joni Marcolin/Heather Armstrong)
Nanaimo playwrights present online Mother’s Day script readings

Nicolle Nattrass and Michael Armstrong to read from in-progress plays

Marianne Turley is one of this year’s City of Nanaimo Culture and Heritage Award winners for Honour in Culture. (Bulletin file photo)
Longtime Vancouver Island Symphony board member gets posthumous culture award

Marianne Turley receives City of Nanaimo Culture and Heritage Award for Honour in Culture

The CVAC Fine Arts Show is always something to see and 2021 promises to be no different, as they adopt a fully multimedia approach. (File photo)
Cowichan Valley Fine Arts Show goes multimedia for 2021

The show, which runs from May 1-22 will be available both in person and online.

Dinner After a Death, a painting by Sooke artist Bryan Cathcart is part of a collection featuring his work at the Outsiders and Others Gallery in Vancouver. (Contributed - Bryan Cathcart)
Sooke artist finds creativity by expanding artistic horizons

Bryan Cathcart, 26, featured at Vancouver gallery

Viking-inspired fantasy writer Joshua Gillingham of Nanaimo and Seattle-based Islamic science fiction editor Muhammad Aurangzeb Ahmad are co-editing ‘Althingi – The Crescent and the Northern Star.’ (Photos submitted, illustration by Lada Shustova/Figue)
Nanaimo author co-editing historical anthology connecting Vikings and Muslims

Joshua Gilligham presents ‘Althingi – The Crescent and the Northern Star’

Saltair-based writer, Krista May. (Janet Kelly photo)
Island writers make long-list for 2021 CBC Short Story Prize

Krista May and Angie Ellis among 33 finalists selected out of over 3,000 entrants

Most Read