The City of Nelson wants to hear residents’ thoughts on the second stage of its planned walking and biking corridor that will connect Uphill with Rosemont.
The plan is to create a separated bike lane, and in some places to add sidewalks, from the highway interchange at Observatory Street, along Vancouver Street to Silver King Road as far as Selkirk College.
According to city planner Matt Kuziak, many of the details are still to be worked out and will depend on what the city hears in its new Thoughtexchange survey being offered online at https://bit.ly/3Akfhmf and running for three weeks.
Kuziak said he is not sure yet whether there would be a physical barrier between the bike lane and the traffic lane, or whether there would be separate sidewalks or a lane that would be shared between cyclists and walkers. He said the project is in its early design stage.
On some parts of the route there is the possibility of widening the street to accommodate a bike lane and a sidewalk, he said.
The timeline for the project is also not clear but Kuziak expects it would be completed at the latest by sometime in 2023, and that its progress would depend on grant funding.
The first question on the Thoughtexchange site for this project is: “What are the most important factors to consider when expanding walking and cycling infrastructure in Nelson?”
Respondents can reply (anonymously) to that question, then add their reasons and additional thoughts, each in 150 characters or less. They can also see other people’s ideas (also anonymous) and vote on them by ranking them up or down. Then they are presented with further questions to which the same process is applied.
Ranking is an important part of the process: ideas ranked up by others take on more influence, whereas thoughts ranked down will ultimately find their place closer to the bottom as the results are tabulated.
The process can also be educational. Because respondents can see the thoughts of others in real time as people fill out the survey, they may be attracted to ideas they had not considered.
The first stage of the active transportation route was constructed last year between the Nelson bridge and downtown, along Third Street and High Street. After the Uphill-to-Rosemont section is done, the two routes will be connected with a third section that will traverse the downtown area.
The transportation project is mandated by Nelson’s Active Transportation Plan, one goal of which is to get people out of cars and onto their feet or bikes.
“We do realize that we need to prioritize all modes of transportation here,” Kuziak said. “We need make sure it’s safe for cars as well as pedestrians and cyclists. We’re really trying to find a nice balance. So we’re redesigning a few of the intersections to make sure that they’re optimized for for all modes.”
An early version of the city’s transportation corridor plans included a covered staircase to be located above the highway interchange leading directly up the steep slope to Vancouver Street. This would allow pedestrians to skip the Vancouver Street switchback.
Kuziak said this is not part of the current project.
“We have designs for what that may look like, but we haven’t really gotten any interest from council as far as implementing that.”