The Galloping Goose, here seen near the Trans-Canada Highway overpass, is one of the few cycling trails that approach the status of AAA, truly comfortable enough for all ages and abilities (AAA). Travis Paterson/News Staff

The Galloping Goose, here seen near the Trans-Canada Highway overpass, is one of the few cycling trails that approach the status of AAA, truly comfortable enough for all ages and abilities (AAA). Travis Paterson/News Staff

Infrastructure key to promoting bike use in Saanich

If you build it, they will come.

That is the message from Corey Burger, policy and infrastructure chair, with the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition.

Burger said new census data released last week shows new bike infrastructure matters. “Some of the highest growth areas were where we saw lots of new bike infrastructure in the past five years,” he said. “One of those areas was in eastern Saanich around the [University of Victoria], where Saanich built the new McKenzie and Shelbourne bike lanes, as well as many small improvements. We also saw that where infrastructure hasn’t been built, biking is flat or falling.”

Data released last week shows Greater Victoria a national leader in sustainable transportation, which Statistics Canada defines as “modes of transportation that have a smaller net impact on the environment or transportation infrastructure than cars and heavy trucks, or a near‑zero net impact.” They include public transit, car-pooling, as well as forms of active transportation, such as walking and cycling.

According to figures, just under 39 per cent of 170,830 employed commuters in the Victoria Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) use sustainable forms of transportation. A total of 10.9 per cent of commuters in 2016 rode public transit. Eleven per cent car-pooled. Just over 10 per cent walked to work, while another 6.6 per cent of commuters cycled.

But these regional numbers vary across communities, with the share of active commuters (those who walk or bike) dropping further out from the region’s urban core.

Consider the City of Victoria. Of its 42,965 commuters, 23.3 per cent walk to work, while another 11.1 per cent cycle. These rates drop off significantly in Saanich, where about 6.3 per cent of residents walk or cycle to work, a figure below the national average of seven per cent. These rates are even lower in West Shore communities.

Saanich, said Burger, only slightly lags behind the regional average (6.6 per cent) when it comes to cycling, and ahead of the provincial (2.5 per cent) and national (1.4 per cent) averages. Saanich actually ranks among the Top 10 municipalities in Canada, when it comes to cycling to work.

This said, Burger acknowledges that Saanich lags behind Victoria, Esquimalt and Oak Bay. Several reasons account for this fact, he said. They include among others post-war suburb land-use, which did not tend to be very bike-friendly. Trip distances in rural Saanich also make biking a less competitive choice, he added. He also added that Statistics Canada exclusively measured work trips.

“Because they don’t ask about mode for other trips, such as trips to school, you aren’t seeing UVic and Camosun students pushing up the bike numbers,” said Burger. “Contrast the census data with CRD bike count data, where locations near UVic can be as busy downtown or near [Canadian Forces’ Base] Esquimalt.”

While Saanich has come a long way, more needs to be done, he said. Much of the infrastructure installed over the last 25 years isn’t truly comfortable enough for all ages and abilities (AAA), nor does it form a complete network, he said. “We know people will bike if the right infrastructure is in place,” he said. “We see that with the regional trails. Although not quite AAA, they are the closest we have in the region and they form a relatively connected network.”

Other growth areas over the past five years include the E&N Rail Trail, from [Victoria] West all the way through to eastern Colwood where it and the Galloping Goose form a single trail, said Burger.

“We’ve also started to see both AAA bikeways and gap closure accelerate in the past few years,” he said. “Examples include the new protected bike lane on Borden Street (which also closed a gap in the Lochside Regional Trail) or Pandora Ave downtown [Victoria].”

Saanich has also launched a number of initiatives to improve local cycling networks, with set-backs along the way.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fire Chief Darren Hughes, right, pulls the old Firemans Park sign off ahead of the parks name change. The new sign for Firefighters Park is coming. (Oak Bay Fire Department Twitter)
Oak Bay changes the name of Fireman’s Park

New sign for Firefighter’s Park on the way

Friends have identified the man killed in Friday’s shooting in Metchosin as Shane Wilson. (Shane Wilson/Facebook)
West Shore RCMP continue to investigate shooting death in Metchosin

Man killed on Sooke Road Friday night identified by friends

The WHL’s Victoria Royals will compete in a 24-game season starting March 26, <strong></strong>based out of a Kamloops and Kelowna B.C. division bubble (Kevin Light/Courtesy Victoria Royals)
‘Important to cherish every moment’: Victoria Royals not taking bubble season for granted

The Victoria WHL team’s coach and GM calls the season a ‘privilege,’ expects fierce rivalries

Oaklands Elementary’s Division 5 Grade 4/5 class posed with Leila Bui (middle), her dad Tuan Bui (crouching to her left) and mom Kairry Nguyen (right) after presenting the family with a cheque for $710 raised by the students during a necklace sale in December 2020. (Photos courtesy Kairry Nguyen)
Victoria students raise funds for girl seriously injured when struck by vehicle in crosswalk

Oaklands Elementary class contributes to purchase of all-terrain wheelchair for Leila Bui

The Victoria Fire Department was able to contain a fire to one room after a bed placed directly against a heater ignited. (Black Press Media file photo)
Early morning Victoria balcony fire causes $20,000 in damages

Victoria Fire Department said nobody was injured in the fire on View Street

Const. Nancy Saggar, who has 11 years in policing, offers advice for other women who may pursue both policing and family. (Black Press Media file photo)
Pregnancy prompts sage advice from RCMP officer for women thinking about policing

West Shore constable with 11 years experience heads off on maternity leave

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix provide a regular update on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, March 2, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 cases: 545 Saturday, 532 Sunday, 385 Monday

Focus on Prince Rupert, Lower Mainland large workplaces

(BC SPCA)
Is it safe to give your dog some peanut butter? Not always, BC SPCA warns

Some commercial peanut butter ingredients can be harmful to dogs

Anyone with information is asked to call Nanaimo RCMP at 250-754-2345 or contact Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-8477 or submitting a tip online at www.nanaimocrimestoppers.com.
21-year-old motorbike rider dies after crash with ATV on Nanaimo back road

Incident happened Sunday afternoon near Boomerang Lake

Rising accident rates and payout costs have contributed to billion-dollar deficits at ICBC. (Comox Valley Record)
B.C. appealing decision keeping ICBC injury cases in court

David Eby vows to ‘clip wings’ of personal injury lawyers

A special committee has been appointed to look at reforming B.C.’s police act and is inviting the public to make submissions until April 30, 2021. (Black Press media file)
Have thoughts on B.C.’s review of the provincial Police Act?

Submissions will be accepted until April 30

Excerpts from a conversation between Bria Fisher and the fake truLOCAL job. Fisher had signed a job agreement and was prepared to start work for what she thought was truLOCAL before she learned it was a scam. (Contributed)
B.C. woman warning others after losing $3,000 in job scam

Bria Fisher was hired by what she thought was a Canadian company, only to be out thousands

Cottonwoods Care Home in Kelowna. (Google Maps)
New COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna care home includes fully vaccinated seniors: Henry

Two staff and 10 residents tested positive at Cottonwoods Care Centre

Most Read