LETTER: Henderson bike lanes a result of negotiated compromise

The Henderson bike lanes that were debated Feb. 27 at Oak Bay council were the subject of at least two very contentious public engagements resulting in a negotiated compromise acceptable for all: By day, these lanes are exclusively for bikes in the hours recommended by the active transportation and transit-oriented design guidelines; by night they are for car parking for those owners and renters, including many in secondary suites, who live along Henderson and have no other parking place.

This “made-in-Oak Bay” compromise was thanks to former mayor Chris Causton. Premier Gordon Campbell was among those who celebrated the 2008 opening of this provincially funded asset.

Any change of the status quo would need to be based on an updated 2011 Active Transportation Plan. The new plan should emphasize sidewalks/pedestrians and public transport over concrete barriers or curb-based bike lanes. It would note recent nearby bike routing changes (new Shelbourne Street dedicated bike lanes that are removing all the trees) and the plan would also update the lower commute patterns to UVic (resulting from tools such as Zoom and the new housing on campus) and the lower commute patterns to downtown (resulting from the B.C. government’s decision to allow any public service job to be worked from any location in B.C.).

If there are continuing concerns of safety relating to speed along this 40km/h corridor (30km/h at the Uplands Campus School), raised pedestrian crosswalks providing a level surface from sidewalk to sidewalk are natural speed-adapting barriers making it safer for pedestrians from any speeding traffic, two-wheel or four. This is what will be installed along the McNeill Avenue corridor.

Earlier this month, Oak Bay council finalized its priorities – new items that will lead to our next municipal tax increases. The majority set a review of active transportation in five years as there are so many other critical issues ahead of it (eg. mitigating flooding into basements along McNeill Avenue, etc.)

This initiative seems like sour grapes. And while I’m at it, why does council continue to fund when so much of that funding goes to admin staffing and lobbying such as this underhanded initiative to sway the public from responsible, good, and transparent governance?

Eric Zhelka

Oak Bay

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