Corey Burger of the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition in front of the bike and bus lane sign over the Victoria portion of the new Douglas Street bus lane. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Bikes welcome in Douglas Street bus lane until it hits Saanich border

Confusing signs leave drivers, cyclists debating over Douglas

– This story was updated, and amended, to include Saanich Police comment

A recent post on social media by the Saanich Police reminded commuters that the rules for the new Douglas Street bus lane are different, depending on which side of Tolmie Street you are on.

On the Victoria portion of Douglas Street it’s a bus and bike lane yet when it reaches the Saanich border at Tolmie Avenue, where Douglas is managed by the Ministry of Transportation (as it becomes Highway 1), the signage overhead along the Douglas bus lane changes and excludes any mention of cycling.

It’s been four months since the Douglas Street bus lanes officially opened. They run northbound from Fisgard to Tillicum Avenue and southbound from Tolmie to Fisgard (with an expansion to Tillicum in the planning). To date the project cost $4.3 million with $2.1 from City of Victoria, $1.5 million from the Transit Futures Fund and $700,000 from the province.

What surprised the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition was how an infrastructure project for alternative transit could be built for 2018 with cycling as an after thought, said GVCC’s Corey Burger. The GVCC said they raised the issue of the incongruity of the signage upon seeing the plans for the Douglas bus lane two years ago.

It’s the latest example in Saanich where a bike lane disappears, something the engineering department is working hard to fix by with plans to connect Saanich’s bike lane network.

READ MORE: Victoria bus drivers say shared space with cyclists not efficient use of new lanes

READ ALSO: New Victoria bus lane to save people valuable time

“Putting these bus lanes in was a project that needed to happen, we supported that all along,” said Burger. “It’s great to have this and fantastic to speed up buses.”

However, there is a lot of remaining confusion about the new bus and bike lanes.

Last week a number of cycling advocates, and drivers, entered an open discussion with Saanich Police in response to its post about the Douglas Street signage and the exact rules of how to navigate the roads as a cyclist.

Burger says northbound cyclists riding on Douglas have two options when they cross Tolmie into Saanich. Legally, Burger says cyclists on that section of Douglas are supposed to ride in the centre lane, albeit on the right side of the centre lane, and stay out of the bus lane. However, cyclists are choosing to ride where it’s safest, which is in the bus lane, either right in the middle or on the right side of it.

“You can ride where it’s safest for you, and best for you, or you can ride where it’s legal,” Burger said. “If someone hits you and you’re in the bus lane, you’re legally liable because you’re not in the right place. So you’re put in an conundrum.

“What we’re asking for is a bus-bike connection from Tolmie to Carey, where you meet the Galloping Goose and Lochside Trail,” Burger said.

In a statement on Monday the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure confirmed that, after Tolmie Avenue, Douglas Street turns into Highway 1 and cyclists are restricted from occupying a bus lane.

Instead of cycling on that section of Douglas, MOTI suggest cyclists use the nearby Galloping Goose Trail as it provides a safer, separated bike lane for cyclists. It also keeps cyclists from interfering with the operations of the buses, they said.

In their own response, Saanich Police said according to the motor vehicle act cyclists are permitted on roadways as long as they abide by the requirements set out in section 183 of the act, which includes riding as close to the right hand side of the road as practical, said Sgt. Julie Fast.

Officially, the MVA states that citizens you can’t drive a vehicle or other device in the lane. The ‘other device’ includes a bike, Fast said.

“This means that bikes are legally required to ride on the right hand side of the lane immediately adjacent to the bus only lane,” Fast said. “That being said, riding a bike between two lanes of traffic can be unsafe and at the end of the day, the safety of the cyclist is the most important factor to consider.”

RELATED: Douglas Street 24-hour bus and bike priority lanes open

reporter@saanichnews.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Province rejects criticism from Saanich councillor over McKenzie Interchange

Transportation ministry says project will ‘significantly lower’ greenhouse gas emissions

UPDATE: Father on trial for murder describes being ‘tackled’ and ‘stabbed’ in Oak Bay apartment

Oak Bay father takes stand in his defense for December 2017 deaths of young daughters

Police rule out foul play in death of man found in Saanich

The B.C. Coroners Service will now conduct an investigation

West Shore RCMP snag suspected thief with bait bike

GPS-equipped bike leads police to arrest suspect in Langford

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of Aug. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Should there be a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers?

We’ve all heard them, and most likely cursed them under our breath.… Continue reading

Striking Western Forest Products workers could lose benefits in September

Union, forest company at odds over Vancouver Island benefit payments as strike enters third month

Conan turns to the Property Brothers for tips on buying Greenland

Jonathan Scott suggests removing glaciers and mountains to bring in ‘more natural light’

Forests minister visits B.C. town rocked by multiple mill shutdowns

A third of Mackenzie turns out for rally, not much to cheer about

B.C. music teacher accused of sexual misconduct involving girls

Police believe other victims could be out there after the arrest of Lamar Victor Alviar

Most Read