Revelstoke city council has opted to explore a temporary compromise between two proposed bike route plans by seeking stakeholder input in the next two weeks on a plan to eliminate on-street parking on the north side of Fourth Street in Southside.
The proposal calls for dedicated bike lanes on both sides of the road and no parking on the north side of Fourth Street from the Illecillewaet Bridge to Townley Street.
The rest of the route, which runs from Townley along Third Street and Douglas Street to the Big Eddy Bridge, will consist of ‘sharrows.’
Sharrows include the addition of painted bicycle images on the street and bike lane signage, but they are not a dedicated bike lane and no parking is eliminated.
The plan is to get the bike lanes in place in the beginning of August.
The decision came at council’s June 12 meeting after the representatives from the city’s Enhancement Committee brought the revised plan forward.
The Enhancement Committee wants to try the system out until October, then conduct a new wave of public consultations in the fall with the hope of extending the dedicated bike lanes and parking closures along the entire route next year.
In a letter to council the Enhancement Committee pushed for bike lanes this summer: “This bike route has been under discussion for one-and-a-half years and the committee would like to see action this season,” wrote committee chair Toni Johnston in a June 7 letter. “Tourism Infrastructure Funding has been available since fiscal 2011. We respectfully request that council consider the following recommendations for implementing the commuter bike route.”
The Enhancement Committee said it engaged 70 people on the bike route plan at a cycling-themed event during Bike to Work Week and received 35 written responses. In a report to council, it said the written responses, “show overwhelming support for installation of a cross town commuter bike route, including removal of parking on one side of the street.”
Council did agree to move towards the temporary plan this summer, but that doesn’t mean it’s a done deal. City hall will mail letters to property owners affected by the parking closures this week and an information table will be set up at Southside Market on June 23 to collect feedback. Council will decide on the parking closures and bike route in general only after the public feedback is collected.
Although the temporary, compromise route is the ball they’re running with right now, not all councillors and staff were happy with the plan; several expressed concerns at the June 12 meeting.
Coun. Gary Starling said removing parking would be a big issue. “I think that has to be addressed first,” he said.
Coun. Steve Bender said he was “very concerned” about removing parking “in such a busy area.”
Coun. Phil Welock noted the city didn’t yet have its master transportation plan in place.
Public Works operations manager Darren Komonoski also said taking on-street parking away from residences would present “challenges.”
Council voted unanimously to float the plan for public input, although the initial negative reaction from some councillors leaves the impression several are poised to reject the parking closure plan if significant opposition arises.
At meetings in May, city staff and councillors discussed technical difficulties involved with closing on-street parking, including existing planning documents that stipulate certain degrees of consultation with residents are necessary if parking is to be removed.
Council will vote on the plan at its July 10 regular meeting, after feedback from the latest round of consultations has been gathered into a report.
Competing bike route visions
In April, council received presentations on two competing bike lane visions. The routes are very similar; basically from the Illecillewaet Bridge to the Big Eddy Bridge along Fourth Street, Third Street and Douglas Street.
The city’s engineering department, with backing from the planning department, is proposing an all-sharrow route, with no on-street parking eliminated.
The Enhancement Committee favours dedicated bike lanes on either side of the street, with parking eliminated on one side of the street. The committee says the dedicated bike lanes are intended to get more cyclists on the road. They’re specifically targeting less-experienced cyclists and those not confident sharing the road with vehicle traffic. They provide the examples of seniors and children.