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Pathways through municipality need improvement

Cycling, walking in Oak Bay should be easier to do, transportation report states
transportation plan1
Oak Bay parks and recreation director Lorna Curtis and Coun. John Herbert on the Bowker Creek pathway. The municipality will soon consider integrating recommendations from a transportation report that addresses getting around Oak Bay.

As they approached the crest of a curved bridge crossing Bowker Creek near Hampshire Road, Oak Bay Coun. John Herbert and parks and recreation director Lorna Curtis were met by a trio of trail users.

First came a cyclist, who, in her rush to pass, clipped Curtis’ shoulder. Next came a mother pushing a stroller. Last was an elderly woman straining to push her walker up and over the slope.

The sudden burst of traffic gave the municipal representatives a sense of just how crowded it can get.

“We need to do something about that,” Herbert said as he watched the senior cautiously descend. He pointed across the creek to a flat patch of grass. “There needs to be a flat pathway for people like her.”

It’s a practical suggestion, one also noted in an active transportation strategy report completed recently for the municipality. Written by planner Daniel Casey of Langford-based Boulevard Transportation Group, the 56-page document identifies routes, facilities, programs and regulations that would help Oak Bay be a better place to walk or cycle.

The report determined that people who walk or ride – on bikes or in wheelchairs – “do so pretty easily right now,” Herbert said.

But the report recommended such changes as improving pathways across Oak Bay High’s property, along Elgin Road, and beside Henderson recreation centre.

“If we could get permission to put a trail along the ditch (from the former Uplands elementary) to Henderson rec centre, that would open things up to UVic,” Herbert noted.

Other suggestions include improving bike routes along Cadboro Bay Road, Oak Bay Avenue, Lansdowne Road and others, as well as establishing bikeways on Musgrave Street, Hampshire Road and Estevan Avenue. Another recommendation was to increase the number of bike racks, a tip Herbert isn’t convinced is necessary.

“There are 17 spaces within 20 feet of Fairway Market that most of the time sit empty,” he said.

Quibbles aside, the municipal committee that commissioned the report and which Herbert chairs will send it to council for review on Oct. 11. Recommendations could be implemented within a year once they are prioritized, costs determined and funding is found, Herbert said.

Although the strategy is “a doable plan without costing a pile of money,” Curtis said, it has to co-ordinate with the Capital Regional District’s new $275-million Pedestrian and Cycling Master Plan.

That strategy recommends improvements across the 775-kilometre regional network of off- and on-street bike lanes, including new signage, painted road lines and stencils or physical barriers, such as bollards.

Co-ordination is imperative, she added, because “nothing is worse from the public’s point of view than having bikes lanes on roads, such as from Oak Bay Avenue to Foul Bay Road, that just stop. We have to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

Getting around Oak Bay

The Oak Bay Active Transportation Strategy will be posted soon at Among its recommendations:

• New signage at existing trailheads

• Extend Bowker Creek walkway

• Establish multi-use trail adjacent to Cedar Hill Cross Road

• Improve bike routes along Cadboro Bay, Henderson, Foul Bay and Lansdowne roads, as well as McNeill and Bowker avenues and Beach Drive

• Build new bikeways on Musgrave Street, Hampshire Road and Monterey Avenue, as well as Henderson Road from the University of Victoria to Oak Bay High