When I first moved to Penticton in September of 2014, I was living in temporary accommodations in one of the motels on Lakeshore Drive. It was a perfect option for me at the time: new to town, relatively
inexpensive monthly rent, and essentially a one-bedroom apartment that had cable, internet, and a small kitchen.
It was a perfect place to set-up while I looked for something more permanent. I didn’t have access to a car for the entire time, but I had my bike. Not knowing Penticton really well, I set out on my bike to ride to Safeway. It seemed easy when I looked at the map. After all, I used my bike to get around all the time in Vancouver.
What followed was a completely harrowing experience south on Winnipeg Street. Cars passing really close, riding in a car sandwich between moving and parked cars, having to be on my bike in the middle of intersections due to dedicated right hand turn lanes at the intersections, and a merge lane south of Eckhardt Avenue.
The icing on the cake was getting into the passing lane for the left-hand turn at the intersection of Fairview Road and Duncan Avenue: one of the most dangerous intersections in Penticton
according to ICBC crash data. If you don’t believe me, I’d encourage you to try it: after all it’s our current bike route. Needless to say, such an experience does not lend itself to getting more
humans of all ages and abilities to choose the bike.
On Tuesday, the City of Penticton formally started up the public engagement on what is likely to be the most-discussed and debated section of the Lake-to-Lake, all ages and abilities bike route: the downtown
section. This goes from the
library area to the north-end of Penticton.
After getting considerable public feedback on the topic already, the options have been narrowed down to two: Winnipeg Street or Martin Street. The Winnipeg Street option would call for
protected bicycle lanes on both sides of the street, while the Martin Street option would call for a two-way cycle track on one side of the street. The west side of Martin Street would have physical protection from moving vehicles and people on bikes would travel both north and south on Martin Street.
My choice for the downtown segment is Martin Street.
Martin Street is the most
central to the downtown of the two options and as such, provides more function and easier connections to both Main and Winnipeg Streets. From the start of this project, I have advocated that we are looking for as central of route as possible, as we feel the better and more central the route is, the more people will be inclined to use it.
The Winnipeg route, while also good, is less central. There are fewer amenities on Winnipeg Street. Not only is it less central, but it would completely eliminate curb parking on Winnipeg Street on both sides, a total of 215 spaces. Martin Street parking will be impacted much less, a
total of 85 spaces. While some curb parking will be eliminated on Martin, the City has also
recently added curb parking on Westminster between Main and Winnipeg Streets.
Should the Martin Street option be chosen, it would be paired with a matching two-way cycle track that would extend past the library south on Fairview Road.
For more information and to make your voice heard, please go to: shapeyourcitypenticton.ca. There are also detailed drawings of the route options with some videos available there.
Matt Hopkins is a board member of the Penticton & Area Cycling Association and co-founder of the Penticton Bike Valet. This column runs every second Friday.