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9 projects planned over 5 years for Oak Bay bike network

Doctor shares ‘catastrophic injuries’ suffered by cyclists hit on Greater Victoria roads
McNeill Avenue upgrades are already planned for Oak Bay cycling infrastructure. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)

While road users can’t expect bike lanes to roll out tomorrow, Oak Bay is embarking on a better cycling network with approved updates to its active transportation plan.

Council approved a five-year implementation strategy for the nine cycling facilities prioritized in the 2023 Oak Bay Active Transportation Strategy Review to be funded through taxes. That translates to a 1.15-per-cent tax increase for 2024 and starts with hiring two full-time active transportation coordinators.

The decision came after more than three hours of discussions Monday (March 25) and an agenda that featured loads of letters from the public, signed by both taxpayers and frequent visitors to the community.

In-person public attendance left standing room only, spilling over into a second room at municipal hall during the meeting.

“It is very important to me that we get moving on an ambitious and complete plan,” Coun. Andrew Appleton said during the lengthy discussion. He eventually made the motion that moved the project forward.

A most passionate plea came from a vocal advocate for cycling infrastructure in recent years. Dr. Brian Wall, an Oak Bay resident and emergency physician, said the weekend prior to the meeting was a near deadly one for cyclists in the region.

A bike lane behind police tape after a cyclist was hit in Victoria. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)

He called it one of the worst bicycle trauma weekends his department has seen, with eight cyclist winding up in the intensive care unit, all with life-threatening injures ranging from brain damage to broken bones.

“Not all, but most, could have been prevented by proper bike infrastructure,” he said. “These catastrophic injuries if not resulting in death will affect the patients and their families for the rest of their lives.”

While everyone spoke in support of active transportation, not all letters and speakers supported the strategy and the decision wasn’t unanimous around the council table.

Councillors Cairine Green, Esther Paterson and Hazel Braithwaite opposed.

Braithwaite echoed a concern heard from the public that the plan didn’t provide updates to the pedestrian and sidewalk master plan.

“It might make us look differently on where we went to put bike lanes,” she said.

Green agreed it missed the connectivity, and Paterson said she hears about sidewalks every day.

“We are talking about active transportation as a holistic concept. It isn’t just one form of transportation it’s many forms of transportation,” Green said.

The 2023 active transportation plan outlines the current goal of bike route design for Oak Bay. (District of Oak Bay)

Simplified, the nine projects include a multi-use trail for Cedar Hill Cross Road; commuter routes for Cadboro Bay Road, Henderson/Foul Bay Oak Bay Avenue, Lansdowne Road and Bowker Avenue; neighbourhood bikeway in central Oak Bay; and connections for McNeill Avenue to Beach Drive and Oak Bay to Beach.

Current direction would pursue AAA design – for all ages and abilities of users – as a default. The goal is to produce detailed designs and consultation this year and next for all nine routes identified in the 2023 report. Staff will come back with a priorities construction schedule over the five-year period based on assessment of the underground infrastructure replacement program.

Throughout the year staff will also review maze gates as part of routine operations and replace them with with signage for fence panels. Similarly bike racks will be reviewed for their potential to replace “coat hanger” style with alternatives that suit the growing diversity in bike options.

Find the full updated active transportation plan on the March 25 agenda at

The latest draft of the Oak Bay budget discussed on March 27 (which can also be viewed online) includes a sidewalk replacement program that will look sidewalks prioritized based on a 2023 condition assessment. Final budget discussions are expected March 28 at 6 p.m.

Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

I'm dedicated to serving the community of Oak Bay as a senior journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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