I recently had the pleasure of spending five days in Victoria on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. If you read this blog often you'll know I like to collect pictures of bike infrastructure wherever I go. I often have to wait to get pictures of cyclists using cycling infrastructure, but that was never a problem in Victoria, no matter the time of day, there were cyclists frequently passing by, it felt somewhat Euro and it really was a pleasure to ride around there. Read on for some thoughts and images from Victoria.
I was last in Victoria for a proper visit back in 2014. I'd been back for the odd meeting since, but just quick visits in and out, without really going downtown. Of course, I'd heard about the good things happening in Victioria, but I was yet to see it in person. We stayed just off Pandora Avenue. Pandora is home to the City's first protected bike lane constructed just three years ago in 2016, it is a bi-directional on-street lane that seems to broadly maintain the existing curb and gutter, taking over a travel lane and at the same time narrowing travel lanes to create space for protective islands, sometimes with bus stops and bike parking.
Fort Street protected bike lanes opened in 2018 running parallel to Pandora a few blocks south. These lanes are also bi-directional and would use lower protection islands, painted buffers from parking, provide concrete bike parking corals, and parklets in places. The lanes sometime drop down too close to minimum widths with bike lanes approaching 2.5m in width, and just 0.2m for the islands, retaining space for a narrow turn lane for vehicles at the intersection. I'm always keen to see minimum width facilities to understand how well they work. In this case its only for a short length but its fine, just like with a wider facility you need to pass on the other side anyway. Really it functions little differently from the regular 3.0m width. I guess wider facilities would better allow side-by-side riding while retaining space to pass.
At the west end of both Pandora and Fort, Wharf Street protected lanes opened earlier in 2019 along with a small section of Humbolt Street, connecting the two facilities as well the Johnson Street Bridge and the connection to the Galloping Goose and Lochside Trails. This design is a further iteration of the previous two, adding providing protected intersection treatments, breaks for drainage, and tactile surface warning indicators where pedestrians are likely to cross the bike path.
Back to that Johnson Street Bridge, unfortunately I never saw it lift, but the engineering visible even from the bridge deck is quite the sight. It features a wide multi-use path on one side which is heavily used by pedestrians and cyclists. It also features on-street bike lanes that are equally well used.
Once you get over the the bridge on the other side from downtown, you hit the regional trail system. We rode both the Lochside Trail and Galloping Goose over the weekend to get out of the city, enjoy the magnificent weather for October and get a better feel for the region. Both were largely traffic free and offered an almost bicycle highway like facility (still mixed with pedestrians) from the suburbs into the downtown core of Victoria. Interestingly, many of the crossings on the Lochside Trail feature stop signs for drivers, I was a little wary of these at first, but it seems drivers do actually obey them, and some cyclists have a lot of confidence in that!
All of my images from Victoria can be view on my flickr page. With plans in place to close the loop at the east end of the protected bike lane network and better connect the Galloping Goose with the Johnson Street Bridge, as well as push out into the neighbourhoods, Victoria is putting its money where its vision is, and rapidly implementing a high quality network of protected bike facilities. In the 2016 census, Victoria had possibly the highest bicycle mode share for trips to work in Canada at 11.1%. That was about the same time they were just implementing their first protected bike lane on Pandora. I can't wait to see what the numbers look like in 2021 with the recent and planned additions. Well Done!