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‘We haven’t given up’: Cyclists rally for safer infrastructure in Oak Bay

Riders plan to roll from University of Victoria to muncipal hall ahead of Monday council meeting
The bike lane on Henderson Road that includes part-time parking remains a safety concern for cyclists in Oak Bay. (Black Press Media file photo)

A rallying ride will hit the streets – braking in Oak Bay to call for safer cycling routes.

It’s part of a protest dubbed the Critical Mass Ride and led by many of the original group who fought for a bike lane on Henderson Road three decades ago, said Jane van Hoorn.

“These are people who have been lobbying for cycling for 30 years,” van Hoorn said. “We haven’t given up.”

While they were a gang of about 20 then, the handful left are urging council to move on “critical improvements that are needed in Oak Bay for cyclists.”

READ ALSO: Bid to ban bike lane parking rolls over into Oak Bay’s priorities plan

Oak Bay lacks all ages and abilities cycling infrastructure, van Hoorn said, and the demand is specifically for no parking in bike lanes, protected bike lanes on busy routes, improved cycling amenities and alignment with other Greater Victoria municipalities.

The Henderson Road bike lane installed back then is a prime example of the dangers, she said, noting it allowing for parking part-time is a prime example.

“The fact that it’s part-time is goofy and really unsafe.”

The solution when the lane was created was a compromise with residential parking, but that forces cyclists into traffic during the evening and night. Van Hoorn felt the risk keenly while using the route to commute from evening classes at the University of Victoria a few years ago, and on day trips still.

“After (7 p.m.), that need for a cycle lane was still there for me,” she said. “I don’t feel safe and I’m a very experienced rider.”

READ ALSO: Oak Bay to get back on track with active transportation plan

She pointed to a rise in cycling traffic, including families on cargo bikes and long-tails looking for safer routes. Highlighting a number from a 2006 Bike to Work Society survey, she notes at that time, of those who answered the survey, the largest group of cyclists came from Oak Bay at 15 per cent. She’s confident that number would be higher now.

“So we’re hoping to have a good group of people to demonstrate,” van Hoorn said.

The ride starts at the University of Victoria at the corner of Ring Road and University Avenue on June 12 at 5 p.m.

It ends with a rally outside municipal hall at 2167 Oak Bay Ave., ideally just as council members are arriving for their Monday night meeting, van Hoorn said.

“A lot of these issues are not new to Oak Bay. I’ve spoken in front of six councils addressing the Henderson lane,” van Hoorn said. “We’re going to ride and we’re going to ride until we get some sort of action.”

They plan to coordinate monthly rides with council meetings.

RELATED: Oak Bay councillor wants this bike lane to be open full time

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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