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Report raises safety concerns about Highway 17 / Beacon Avenue in Sidney

Report finds gaps in Sidney’s active transportation network
A report cites the intersection of Highway 17 and Beacon Avenue as an area of “high concern” for both cyclists and pedestrians. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

A report confirms what many Sidney residents likely already know: the intersection of Beacon Avenue and Highway 17 is an area of “high concern” for both walking and cycling.

This finding appears in the first phase engagement summary and working paper as Sidney continues to develop its active transportation plan. Sidney has previously defined active transportation as travelling from one place to another using human power such as walking, cycling or rolling by other means. That definition includes e-bikes and e-trikes, but not fully motor-powered vehicles such as mopeds and motorcycles. Active transportation plans spell out ways to make roads and trails safer and more convenient for people to choose to walk, cycle and roll.

The report presented to Sidney’s council meeting as committee of the whole spells out that most of Sidney lies within walking distance of daily needs – with childcare, retail, employment clusters and bus stops a 5-10 minute walk in most parts of Sidney.

“However, north and south Sidney have gaps to some key destinations, with Sidney Elementary School and grocery or convenience stores not within an acceptable walking distance,” it reads. “Crossing the Patricia Bay Highway is also a barrier to walking in the community, with one pedestrian overpass on either end of the town and a traffic light at Beacon Avenue which presents safety challenges with limited sidewalk coverage, slip lanes and an extensive travel distance.”

RELATED: New plan aims to make transportation more active in Sidney

Overall, survey respondents said they feel very safe (43 per cent) or mostly safe (46 per cent) walking. This said, the report identifies the intersection of Highway 17 and Beacon Avenue, as well as issues with accessibility and navigating Sidney using a mobility aid, as concerns.

As for cycling, the report notes that the existing facility types in the community are “inconsistent” in offering “varying levels of comfort, some of which may not feel safe for people of all ages or skill levels to travel on comfortably.”

The report notes that the existing bicycle network on the municipal street network concentrates along major roads, creating network gaps in the north, south and western neighbourhoods of Sidney.

“Further, crossing Highway 17 is a barrier to cycling in the community, with one pedestrian overpass on either end of the (municipality) that requires dismounting,” it reads. “The traffic light at Beacon Avenue presents safety challenges for cyclists with narrow painted bike lanes and slip lanes for vehicles merging onto the highway that creates risk potential for vehicles and cyclists using the intersection.”

Overall, 46 per cent of respondents felt very safe to mostly safe cycling in Sidney. But 22 per cent also said they felt mostly unsafe to very unsafe cycling in Sidney. Respondents identified speed and proximity to motor vehicle traffic (32 per cent) as the top issue for local cyclists, followed closely by a lack of bicycle routes or pathways (31 per cent) and lack of safety protections at intersections (25 per cent).

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Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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