Cyclists push for options at new interchange

Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition and would like to see a switch bridge as part of the McKenzie interchange

Edward Pullman

Edward Pullman

In the wake of last week’s landmark announcement of of a new interchange at the Admirals-McKenzie intersection on Highway 1, less car-centric members of the community are eager to ensure the project is a comprehensive one.

While Saanich will avoid any financial implications from the project, with the provincial and federal governments agreeing to cover the $85 million cost of the project, a couple of local groups say it’s too early to celebrate just yet.

Both the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition and immediately expressed concerns over the future of the intersection, including traffic-incident data.

“It’s a windfall for Saanich, financially brilliant, as we don’t know where we would have found the $20 or $30 million needed for this project,” said Coun. Fred Haynes. “Now the big question is, how will this impact the neighbourhood and does this maintain a car-centric format? We should look to use buses, HOV lanes, and cycling [tracks].”

The car-bike relationship of the Galloping Goose and Highway 1 is an intimate one as hundreds of commuting and recreational cyclists cross Tillicum and McKenzie avenues each day.

As it stands, cyclists on the Goose are permitted to ride along the crosswalks at McKenzie and Tillicum, while obeying the rules of traffic (lights).

Many cyclists disregard the need to dismount in other areas of Saanich which is where some of the problems occur. However, drivers are unaware of the rules and cyclists who approach the Goose from McKenzie cite driver abuse and incidents.

A data release from co-ordinator Trisalyn Nelson backed up a statement from Edward Pullman, the president of the GVCC, regarding the need for a safer solution where the Galloping Goose crosses McKenzie.

Bike Maps has 10 citizen-reported cycling incidents at the McKenzie-Goose crosswalk in the last year alone, Nelson said.

“We believe that trail should be continuous [at McKenzie-Goose],” Pullman said. “It’s good to hear (Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Todd Stone) state there will be some sort of safe bridge for pedestrians and cyclists.”

Pullman believes an overpass similar to the switch bridge over Douglas/Highway 1 beside Uptown is an ideal model. The next step is an improvement along the Admirals-McKenzie corridor, where the new Craigflower Bridge boasts sizable bike lanes only to see them disappear as Admirals Road extends into Saanich.

“Of course it would be great if they looked at Tillicum as well,” Pullman said.

Construction for the interchange is expected to begin sometime in 2016 and last about two years.

– This story was updated on July 29 to correct an initial error that stated Galloping Goose cyclists must dismount at the crosswalks of McKenzie and Tillicum. In fact, cyclists are permitted to ride across these intersections according to Saanich Bylaw… “

Notwithstanding Section 183 of the Motor Vehicle Act, or any successor provision, a person may ride a cycle in any crosswalk which forms a direct and immediate link between adjacent portions of the Galloping Goose Trail, the Lochside Trail, a Centennial Trail or any other multi-use trail.”