Fort Street bike lanes appear nearly complete on this portion of the road. (Ragnar Haagen/BLACK PRESS)

Budget for Victoria cycling network increased to $14 million

Council narrowly recommends budget increase for phase one of project

The cost of Victoria’s cycling network has nearly doubled from original estimates.

On Thursday, City staff asked council for nearly $3 million more in funding in the 2018 budget to complete the first phase of dedicated bike lanes, which includes Pandora Avenue and corridors on Fort, Wharf, Humboldt and Cook streets.

The cost to complete the Fort, Wharf and Humboldt street lanes is now $7.7 million, bringing the total cost of the entire network up to $14.4 million.

Sitting as committee of the whole, council voted 5-3 in favor of including the increase. There had previously been $4.86 million available for the project, partially funded by the gas tax.

RELATED: Pandora bike lanes see high usage

In 2016, council was given an estimate of $7.75 million for the entire network, but since then, the scope of the project and costs have grown, according to City staff. The increases relate to contractor costs and the cost of improvements made by suggestions from the public. Those amenities include: improvements to pedestrian space, signal upgrades, on-street parking, loading zone treatments, as well as street enhancements.

Councillors were given options that included continuing with the phase 1 lanes, deferring some routes or portions of routes, and “de-scoping” the improvements. Reducing the scope of the project would lower costs and the shorten the duration, but it would also reduce cyclist safety and quality of the public space, council heard.

Mayor Lisa Helps said now was not the time to stop the process. She said the intention was always to build a bicycle network, not just one set of lanes.

“The public hasn’t understood that we were setting out to build a network, in the same way when cars were invented, the city paved all the roads. They didn’t say they will pave sections and leave the rest dirt,” she said.

“I strongly, urgently feel that we cannot stop phase one.”

Coun. Marianne Alto voiced concern over the increased costs, but thinks a delay could cost more. She supported continuing the network, which she said would encourage people to shift their mode of transportation.

“You have to do a significant enough amount of work in order for people to buy into it,” she said. “We have to do at least this much, or else there isn’t enough to evaluate whether the community will go this way.”

Coun. Chris Coleman, however, said perhaps the City needed to give people time to adjust to the lanes that have already been built.

“Sometimes we need to slow down, and let the public catch up and understand, and we need to be better at explaining,” he said. “I don’t want to put off the whole notion of the full cycling network, but we have to make sure the public is on board.”

So far, there have been an average of 40,000 trips per month on the Pandora lanes since they were completed in May. Fort Street lane construction started in September, and construction on the 800, 900 and 1000 blocks are almost complete. There is a halt on some construction activity until after the holidays, and work on 700, 600 and 500 blocks is scheduled to continue early next year.

Just Posted

Two puppies snatched from East Sooke home

Anyone with information asked to contact Sooke RCMP

Saanich teen helps save three people from the Gorge

53-year-old male who was submerged is expected to recover

Moving Trans History Forward conference aimed at more than LGBTQ community

UVic’s Aaron Devor: “We’re all here to learn from each other”

Large fire destroys home on McClure Street in Victoria

Fire crews dispatched to the 1100-block shortly before noon Monday

Driver puts brand new truck into friend’s house

No one hurt, house damaged in Tillicum area

Ottawa proposes restricted pot labels, packages

Packaging will include red stop sign with marijuana leaf and ‘THC’

Comox Valley Valley lotto ticket worth $2 million

Someone who purchased a lottery ticket in the Comox Valley was chanelling… Continue reading

Pro-Trump protest sign with F-word is OK, court rules

Judges say Ontario man can protest publicly, even using vulgar language

VIDEO: Police officer looking for distracted drivers gets hit by truck

Road safety investigator clipped by trailer while patrolling busy intersection

YVR wants you to help name three new puppies

Say hello to the Vancouver Airport’s new assistance pups

Man dies in crash on Island Highway

Man thrown from his vehicle, alcohol believed to be a factor in accident near Parksville

Suspect who attacked autistic man in Ontario could be from B.C.’s south coast: police

29-year-old man was sent to hospital with serious injuries

Woman struck and killed by self-driving Uber vehicle

Ride-hailing company suspends all road-testing of such vehicles in U.S. and Canada

Spring snow melt uncovers dirty needles in B.C. city

Vernon residents are upset with number of needles being found around town with spring melt

Most Read