Cyclists can rejoice as the newest Shelbourne Street redesign proposal from Saanich Planning introduces continuos cycling lanes.
Saanich is installing cycling lanes on both sides of the road. There will even be enough room to protect the cycling lanes with a physical barrier from North Dairy to Christmas.
To do so, Shelbourne will be narrowed to two lanes, with turning lanes, for a stretch just north of Christmas Avenue, though it will retain four lanes from North Dairy to Christmas Avenue.
“Compared to the two previous options it’s a much higher quality bike facility,” said Saanich Planning’s Cam Scott. “We’re trying to have a bike facility on Shelbourne that attracts a broader range and ability of riders.”
Public consultation is now underway for the final stage of the current proposal, which is a $12.5 million project. There is an expected backlash from motorists, but the cycling lanes are here to stay. Saanich Planning ran an extensive series of public consultations and surveys, in which continuous, separated cycling tracks and overall safety were among the key themes.
“We’re always open to hearing community feedback on anything we hear, and we’ll communicate that back to council,” Scott said. “But what we’re bringing forward now is reflective of the key concerns we heard in the year.”
Contentious or not, it’s a big step towards multi-modality on the Shelbourne corridor.
Option 3 is an expedited project broken out of the long-term, 30-year vision for the Shelbourne Valley Action Plan. It was born out of a displeasure from council and public together at the 30-year length of the SVAP.
The long-term, complete vision for Shelbourne will return to four lanes of traffic, have fully protected cycling tracks and also wider sidewalks. That is not possible in the meantime unless Saanich was to expropriate the right-of-way land along the street. Instead, it will slowly acquire the land during redevelopment.
The newest Option 3 proposal also commits $450,000 to upgrading the UVic Connector, which runs from Shelbourne to Pear, Poplar and Cedar Hill X roads.
Depending on how soon Option 3 can get Saanich council’s approval, which should be relatively soon, construction would start by 2018, if not 2019, Scott said.
“It’s a great opportunity to try to build a better street for all users, to make a better street in the long term, and to encourage people to review information and share any feedback they might have,” Scott said.
While only a small number of the public suggested light rail for Shelbourne, Scott noted that B.C. Transit has identified Shelbourne as a frequent transit route and has a long-term strategy to create dedicated transit lanes on it.
To complete the survey, view virtual open houses and watch videos of the design option, visit: Saanich.ca/shelbourne.