Bike routes are finally on their way to Revelstoke. Two years ago after residents were teased with bike lanes on Airport Way on the hill to Arrow Heights, the city is ready to extend them throughout the town centre and, hopefully, beyond.
On Friday, I went to ride the proposed route with fellow Bike to Work Week committee member Jeff Bolingbroke. We met at 3 p.m. at the Illecillewaet River bridge, where the new bike lane is set to start.
We decided we’d start our ride by crossing the bridge itself. It’s been long identified as one of the big cycling hazards in Revelstoke. The city’s bike lane proposal doesn’t have a very good solution to it. It is proposing signs saying not to pass cyclists. Less confident cyclists are asked to get off their bikes and walk across the sidewalk on the east side.
Emerging on to Fourth Street, the road is nice and wide as it curves around slightly. This is one of the busiest streets in Revelstoke, with more than 5,000 vehicles per day passing alongside. We pedalled up the slight hill past Southside Market, where the roadway narrows by several feet. There is also a notable uptick in parked vehicles as we head towards Townley, including one small truck that we were forced to swerve widely around.
At Victoria Road is where things become complicated, as we had to make the turn from Fourth Street and then switch lanes and make a left onto Third Street with numerous cars passing. Public works has identified this intersection as “awkward” for northbound commuters. I stuck out my left arm indicating a turn until one kindly driver let us through.
The proposed route calls for cyclists to get off their bikes at Townley, cross Fourth Street and then walk across Victoria Road where they would start pedalling again.
Third Street was a breezy ride, with its wide roadway and relatively little traffic compared to Fourth. It’s not until we got to the Post Office where we could see problems arising from the number of people parking their cars and crossing the street to get their mail.
The rest of the route was pretty straightforward, west along Third, a left-hand turn onto Charles and then following the bend onto Douglas Street. We bike as far as the Big Eddy Bridge, where we turned around to go back the other way and check out the so-called “scenic” route.
This route follows the Greenbelt trail, a popular mixed-use pathway popular with cyclists, dog walkers and joggers, amongst others. We didn’t encounter anyone along the pathway on this ride and it was a relaxing ride around the Greenbelt to Kovach Park.
At Kovach Park we turned off, took a slight detour through the skateboard park and then proceeded up Eight Street, which is also marked as a “scenic” route on the city’s plan. It’s a slight uphill along a quiet road that provides great access to the new schools, and Queen Elizabeth Park, though it stays one block away from those popular spots. From Eight Street, the route turns onto Mackenzie Avenue and then up Fourth Street until it ends and turns towards Third and the “scenic” route joins up with the commuter route.
As reported on page 5, there are competing ideas for the bike route. The city’s enhancement committee is calling for dedicated bike lanes on Fourth, Third, Charles and Douglas Streets. This would involve eliminating parking one side of the street, something the Department of Public Works is hesitant to do because of the language of the Official Community Plan.
Instead, public works is proposing Sharrows placed on roadways, indicating they are to be shared by cars and cyclists alike.
The city plan continues the bike path into the Big Eddy and the plan is to have a path connecting Revelstoke Mountain Resort to the bike trails at Mt. Macpherson. As of right now, it looks like the Sharrows will be painted on soon. Actual bike lanes will take longer to implement, and only if the city decides to eliminate parking.
This is the first in a series of four articles leading up to Bike to Work Week, which takes place from May 28 to June 3. Register your work place at www.biketowork.ca/revelstoke.