Saanich staff give direction to cyclists Wednesday at the intersection of McKenzie Avenue and Borden Street morning as improvements to the Lochside Regional Trail opened. District of Saanich photo

Saanich opens new cycling connection

Local bike activists celebrate improvements to the Lochside Regional Trail.

Edward Pullman, president of the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition, praises the opening of a path that completes the Lochside Trail across Cedar Hill Cross Road to Borden Street at McKenzie Avenue. “It’s really great to see that Saanich is closing a really important gap in the [Lochside Regional Trail] network,” he said.

Its central feature is a protected cycling track that formalizes two-way bicycle traffic through a smaller cluster of busineses including the Monkey Tree Pub bounded by a triangle that consists out of north-south running Borden Street, east-west running Mckenzie Avenue and Cedar Hill Cross Road.

The trail officially stopped between McKenzie Avenue and Cedar Hill Cross Road before the new connection. This reality created a dilemma for cyclists who had to choose between dismounting at the crosswalks or riding through and deciding whether to “cheat” through the parking lot of an ICBC testing centre for drivers.

A series of new traffic patterns and signage including green conflict paint will improve accessibility, visibility and safety of the cycling and pedestrian space at the intersection of McKenzie Avenue and Borden Street.

Other features include a relocated sidewalk on Borden Street from the McKenzie Intersection to Cedar Hill Cross Road to the Lochside trail connection; a relocated sidewalk on Borden and new sidewalks on Cedar Hill Cross Road; a reconfiguration of the Borden Street and Cedar Hill Cross Road intersection to improve visibility and safety.

Saanich first announced the project in the summer of 2015. Figures from that period pegged the total cost of the project at $280,000.

Mayor Richard Atwell, who used to be a regular commuter along the Lochside Regional Trail and familiar with the intersection, said in 2015 that the connection was essential. “[This will] improve safety for cyclists, pedestrians and vehicles and will bring us another step closer to completing our region’s cycling infrastructure,” he said.

With this “fundamental part” of the Lochside Regional Trail improved, Pullman would like to see the Capital Regional District (CRD) widen the Lochside Trail in several sections. Priorities include the area along Swan Lake and Cecilia Ravine, he said.

Overall, he finds Saanich has been taking the right steps towards improving the local cycling infrastructure through its Active Transportation Plan and improvements of Shelbourne Avenue.

However Saanich has also seen some setbacks, as the province announced earlier this year that it will not contribute towards plans to improve the cycling infrastructure along McKenzie Avenue, a major thoroughfare for local cyclists in need of upgrades.