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One week in, mixed reaction to Beacon Hill Park changes

Aug 12 2012
Some roads in Beacon Hill Park are closed to traffic as part of a three-month pilot project that aims to reduce speeding and shortcutting through the park. 

Some roads in Beacon Hill Park are closed to traffic as part of a three-month pilot project that aims to reduce speeding and shortcutting through the park.

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

Some cursed the awkward U-turns, while others celebrated fewer cars speeding through Beacon Hill Park. The City of Victoria's traffic pilot project for the local landmark is certainly a change, though whether it's for better or worse remains to be seen.

In the last week, the city has closed off certain roads through Beacon Hill Park and converted some sections to one-way or dedicated pedestrian and cycling pathways.

"We're getting mixed feedback," said David Speed, who was manning an information booth along Dallas Road on Saturday.

"We have some people who think we haven't gone far enough [in limiting traffic], some people who like it and a lot of people who think it goes too far and that it interferes with how they use the park."

At the end of the three-month pilot project, the city will decid whether the traffic restrictions should be permanent. The changes are aimed at preventing speeding and drivers using the greenspace as a shortcut.

Stephen Ross, a Victoria resident who uses the park often with his wife and two children, said he thinks the whole park should be shut down to traffic.

"It's a park, they should make it a greenway for bikers and roller bladers," he said. Ross said improved public transit would make the park more accessible to people who don't live within walking distance.

Cyclist Mike Hill said the park would likely be a safer place for pedestrians and cyclists if there were fewer cars.

Several motorists expressed frustration at having to make a tight U-turn at Heywood Way.

"It's very confusing," said Russell Higginson. He and his partner, Tara Higginson, just moved to Victoria from Edmonton and were flustered by the dead end.

"You'd think there would be more signs on where to park, con-sidering how many visitors they get here."

The public can view a map and complete a survey at victoria.ca/pilotroadchanges.

The city will host another feedback session Aug. 25 from 12: 30 to 3: 30 p.m. on Circle Drive across from the petting zoo.

WHAT'S CHANGED

Changes to roadways in the park include:

? Portions of Heywood Avenue and Bridge Way are

closed to vehicle traffic. Both are part of a proposed connection to the Trans Canada Trail for cyclists and pedestrians.

? Motorists are able to enter the park at Arbutus

Way off Superior Street, and at Circle Drive off Douglas Street. Two entrances and exits off Park Boulevard remain open.

? Arbutus Way is being maintained as a one-way

access for vehicle use, but parallel parking is limited.

? Chestnut Road is a one-way southbound route for

motorists. Drivers can head east or west on Circle Drive to exit the park.

? The westbound lane of Circle Drive from Dallas

Road and to Chestnut Road is dedicated to pedestrians and cyclists.

For more information and to complete the survey, go to victoria.ca/pilotroadchanges

kderosa@timescolonist.com

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