The James Bay Neighbourhood Association’s Complete Streets concept proposes strategies to see safe sharing of the area’s roadways and sidewalks amongst all users. Image contributed

James Bay seeks input on ‘Complete Streets’ transportation proposal

Victoria’s oldest neighbourhood has unique challenges for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers

The James Bay Neighbourhood Association is reaching out to residents to find a way to share their streets.

In anticipation of the City of Victoria’s plan to begin work on the Local Area Plan for James Bay, the association has launched an online initiative to get input on options developed by their active transportation committee.

The JBNA is proposing a concept called “complete streets” in which roadways are shared by everyone, with specific strategies being employed to make the experience safe and workable for vehicles, cyclists, transit and pedestrians.

Association chair Marg Gardiner said the research was motivated partly by the City’s Biketoria process, which laid the groundwork and set goals for a city-wide network of cycling.

“Biketoria was a cautionary tale for our organization. The consultation in that initiative did not reflect the neighbourhood and we were caught by surprise when their plans came out,” Gardiner said. “That’s not going to happen again.”

The JBNA formed the active transportation committee in 2016 and that fall conducted a neighbourhood survey that garnered almost 500 responses.

The survey, later submitted to Victoria council, showed that within James Bay, residents walked 74 per cent of the time, cycled in 13 per cent of their trips, drove nine per cent and used transit for three per cent of trips.

Non-residents were found to use vehicles 41 per cent of the time to enter and leave James Bay. Walking and cycling came in at 20 per cent each while transit was used for 18 per cent of trips.

With those results in hand, the JBNA is asking residents to weigh in on the “Three Big Ideas” related to transportation: walking, cycling and public transit.

“The first survey examined where we go and how we got there and that formed the basis for the second survey. This one is a bit more difficult because there are concepts that need to be explained,” Gardiner said.

James Bay has some unique challenges that set it aside from other Victoria neighbourhoods, she added.

Gardiner listed an increasing population in the 60 to 75 age demographic, narrow roads, crumbling sidewalks and spots where hydro poles on sidewalks may not leave enough room for people in mobility scooters to get by.

“You combine those factors with the fact that residents still prefer to walk (or use scooters) to get around and it … requires that we look at things like appropriate traffic speeds and volumes. Things that will improve conditions of people riding bikes and walking.”

In addition to the online survey, JBNA members will also be visiting seniors homes, schools and the business community throughout February to solicit input.

The results of the survey will be submitted to council this spring.

“The idea that we’re building upon is the ‘8 to 80’ principle. If we make our public spaces and transportation routes friendly to both eight year olds and 80 year olds, then they be great places for everyone else,” said Gardiner.

A full explanation of the strategy and the survey itself can be found at jbna.org.

editor@vicnews.com

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