Nelson council has made three key decisions about its bike route plan for the city, although further work on them will depend on a receipt of a provincial government grant.
High Street will become a one-way route for vehicles, making room for a two-direction bike lane. The direction of the one-way vehicle traffic has not yet been decided.
The other option the planning department presented to council at its May 4 meeting was to keep two-way traffic on High Street. This would have required creating a protected bike lane and reducing two-way vehicle traffic volumes, and council rejected it.
The bike lane on High Street will connect with a new bike route on Third Street to create a cycling connection between the bridge and downtown.
City planner Sebastien Arcand told council the plan is based on accepted international best practices in urban bike routes, on his own research, and on feedback the city has received over the past few months from an open house with 100-to-150 attendees, written surveys, and an online discussion process with 188 participants.
Third Street traffic calming
Traffic will be calmed on Third Street through the installation of curb extensions (bump-outs at intersections), signage, and a lower speed limit.
Third Street (parallel to Nelson Avenue and one block above it) is seen as a safer family bike route than Nelson Avenue, which would probably still be chosen by more experienced bikers.
The point of the bike routes is to encourage the participation of families and inexperienced cyclists, and increase the number of commuter cyclists, Arcand said.
There would be changes to the intersection at Anderson Street and Nelson Avenue to facilitate the transition for bikes between Third Street and High Street. This will include converting the block of Anderson Street beside Hume School to one-way from Third Street to Nelson Avenue.
Arcand said he estimates that about five per cent of Nelson residents commute by bicycle and that there are 30 to 40 per cent of residents who will never cycle.
“That leaves another 30 to 40 per cent that is interested but are concerned. We are trying to find a middle ground. We are not designing this for the strong and fearless who are already cycling and who will commute by bike no matter what infrastructure we have.”
Cycling infrastructure is mandated by Nelson’s Official Community Plan, which says that by 2040 active transportation (cycling and walking) should account for the largest share of local trips.
The documents, plans and public feedback reports considered by council can be found here along with a video of the discussion starting at 33:00.