LETTER: Council’s decision on bike lanes a low-cost, high-value missed opportunity

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In his March 9 letter (Henderson bike lanes a result of negotiated compromise) Eric Zhelka speaks of a “negotiated compromise” in 2008 that produced a part-time bike lane on North Henderson – the only bike lane in the region that rolls up at night.

What does “compromise” look like a decade or so later? By my count, council received 57 letters in favour of making these bike lanes full-time (including a letter of support from the University of Victoria – Oak Bay’s largest enterprise). Only four letters supported the status quo. Council cast their votes in favour of this tiny minority. Is this what compromise looks like in 2023? Is this what representative democracy feels like?

As for his idea that we need an updated Active Transportation Plan before we can move forward, why not start with a report to the public of what Oak Bay has done – or not done – in following its 2011 plan? While we’re back in 2011, how about reporting on what Oak Bay has done – or not done – in advancing its undertakings under the CRD’s Pedestrian and Cycling Master Plan of the same year.

In the intervening decade, Oak Bay has jumped into the regional lead in surveys of residents who claim cycling as their principal mode of transport. Over the same timeframe, Oak Bay’s active transportation infrastructure to safely service this growing group has lagged well behind investments made by others. Every day, Oak Bay cyclists reap the benefits of recent infrastructure investments in Saanich and Victoria as they commute downtown via Richardson and Haultain. On our side of the line, we know we are home because the bike lanes end.

This initiative is not “sour grapes” as Mr. Zhelka opines. It is a low-cost, high-value missed opportunity. More than ever, Oak Bay needs a fundamental paradigm shift in favour of serving pedestrians and cyclists rather than parked cars.

Stuart Culbertson

Oak Bay