Council approved the removal of parking on 4th Street to make room for a bike lane, but only pending the review by a transportation engineer and not before several councillors took shots at the poor habits of Revelstoke cyclists.
Council voted 3-2 in favour of a motion approving the removal of the parking on the north side of 4th Street East from the Illecillewaet Bridge to Townley Street, subject to a review by a transportation engineer and a cost estimate that would ensure the costs are in line with the funding available from the tourism infrastructure committee.
The vote came after staff held two public reviews – one at Southside Market and the other at the community centre. At the market, 18 out of 21 respondents said they supported the bike lanes. Out of 10 respondents that lived in the neighbourhood, eight supported the plan.
At the community centre meeting, numerous comments were received. Some people felt that the bike lanes should go on other streets, others thought the paths lanes should extend evern further, to Columbia Park. Some had concerns about the loss of parking in front of homes, while others were concerned about the interaction of drivers and cyclists along the route.
During discussion, several councillors had some harsh words for cyclists, with Phil Welock estimating that two-thirds of all cyclists he surveyed were in violation of the laws.
“My point is we need some enforcement there,” he said. “It’s difficult to enforce cycling rules… but I think there’s a lot of education to be done there.”
Councillor Steve Bender, who supported the bike lanes in the past, changed his mind and voiced the strongest opposition to the lanes. He said he couldn’t think of any reasons for them – that they wouldn’t provide any economic boost, wouldn’t remove vehicles from the road, and would be too expensive to maintain.
He also took aim at cyclists, implying that if there was an accident involving a cyclist, it would be the cyclist who was at fault.
“We have had no deaths involving cars and bikes in 10 years,” said Bender. “We’ve had 1,000 close calls and one of the reasons we’ve had a thousand close calls is because of motorists are being careful, they’re aware and they’re reacting to cyclists. Lord knows its not because of cyclists are being careful.”
The bike lanes are part of a larger plan by the Tourism Infrastructure Committee to create a bike network from Revelstoke Mountain Resort to Mt. Macpherson. Money has been earmarked towards the plan and, while no member of the tourism committee was at council, it was remarked they were eager to see things move forward.
The bike lane proposal came from the city’s enhancement committee. Chair Toni Johnston said they would like to have a traffic engineer look at the proposal before moving forward.
“It would be really good if we could have someone help us evaluate the whole route from the Illecillewaet Bridge to the Big Eddy Bridge,” added Eileen Fletcher. “And take a look at the traffic volumes but also the kinds of the traffic on the street – the percentage of heavy traffic or truck traffic that’s on the street.
Mayor David Raven expressed concern that council would be approving something before all the information was available, but Councillor Linda Nixon, who introduced the motion, left it as is.
In the end, Nixon, Welock and Scarcella voted for the motion, while Bender and Starling voted against it.