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Saanich's goal: bike lanes for all

Aug 12 2012
Cyclists and pedestrians use the Galloping Goose Trail on Saturday. Saanch plans to expand its cycling network. 

Cyclists and pedestrians use the Galloping Goose Trail on Saturday. Saanch plans to expand its cycling network.

Photograph by: Lyle Stafford , timescolonist.com (August 2012)

The District of Saanich has an ambitious goal to provide an urban cycling network that will place on-road bike lanes within blocks of every home.

The proposed concept is in its infancy, with members of the bicycle and pedestrian mobility advisory committee still working out details, but chairwoman Coun. Judy Brownoff says the plan could be mapped out in the coming months.

Her theory is simple: Providing cycling lanes that connect to major shopping centres, schools, recreation centres and residential neighbourhoods will extend the life of roadways by getting people out of their vehicles, and create a healthier community.

"Trail or bike-lane facilities will be within close proximity to everyone's house," Brownoff said, although the targeted distance has yet to be identified. "Every street in Saanich should be bicycleand pedestrian-friendly in our urban areas."

The idea was discussed last week during a two-day workshop with engineers, planners and cycling experts from throughout the region.

The goal is to connect Saanich's neighbourhoods while providing links to neighbouring municipalities.

Connections to schools and recreation centres in Saanich will be important components of the plan, according to committee members, who want to make cycling attractive to youth and families.

"We need to convince families and kids to get to school on bikes rather than by car," Brownoff said.

Saanich has long been considered a leader in Greater Victoria when it comes to its bicycle network. The district created the region's first cycling strategy in 1992 and has led the way in creating new bike lanes. As of last year, Saanich had 140 kilometres of bike lanes and about 90 km of multi-use trails.

Victoria followed with its bicycle master plan in 1995 and went from no bike lanes to 28 km of on-road bike lanes by 2011. The community is much smaller and has higher density, requiring fewer shorter lanes than places like Saanich, city staff say.

Saanich's commuter network has already connected most major centres in the district, but going beyond those links has become the committee's primary goal.

"We're trying to accommodate all users, but also recognizing there are different user types," Brownoff said. "We still have commuters who are traffic savvy and want the most direct route to school or work just like a car driver, but we have others who want to be on less-travelled roads in our neighbourhoods."

The committee will revisit the plan in September.

dspalding@timescolonist.com

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