Cycling lane project invests in the future

Saanich council showed decisive action with plan for new cycling lane along McKenzie Avenue

Actions by Saanich council have the district on the road to establishing a better link for Greater Victoria cyclists.

Last week council decided to push ahead with plans for a cycling lane along McKenzie Avenue between Cedar Hill Road and Shelbourne Street.

“This an extremely important project for cycling in Saanich, and indeed the region,” said Coun. Vic Derman, who chairs the Bicycle and Pedestrian Mobility Advisory Committee. “That small section of McKenzie has been known for a long time as the ‘missing link’ in terms of the opportunities for people to cycle safely to a variety of destinations, but in particular the University of Victoria … a very substantial destination in the area.”

Saanich displayed its commitment to the project by finding room for the entire $750,000 cost of the project in its budget. Council has applied for a provincial grant to cover half of that cost, and it would have been easy to delay plans until the provincial funds were in hand. Moving forward now signals the importance the project has with council.

While much attention has been given to the effect the McKenzie interchange will have on traffic congestion in the region, when its $85 million cost is taken into consideration, an argument could be made that the McKenzie Avenue cycling trail upgrade will have a bigger bang for the buck for many commuters.

News of the project was greeted enthusiastically by Edward Pullman, president of the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition. He says the proposed project creates a major east-west connection that also links the university with the north-south running Lochside Trail through Blenkinsop.

If municipal, regional and provincial levels of government are sincere in the desire to lessen their carbon footprint, more must be done to reduce the number of cars on the road. It’s projects like the one approved by Saanich that will move us closer to that goal.