Some motorists are scratching their heads upon entering the 800-block of Humboldt Street these days.
Earlier this month, Victoria put finishing touches on a new “advisory” bike lane system in the block between Blanshard and Quadra streets. New bike lane markings are painted on both sides – the latest extension of the City’s all-ages and abilities cycling network along Humboldt Street – and several new speed humps aim to slow vehicle traffic.
Perhaps the biggest change is to the vehicle portion of the roadway. It is now slightly more than one vehicle wide, with bike lanes on the inside of the parking spaces that remain on each side. Mid-block boulevard signs each way show the rules for vehicles and cyclists, but they can be missed by drivers. On more than one occasion, drivers have met an oncoming vehicle and been uncertain how to proceed.
Given the designated bike lanes, drivers must yield to cyclists in such situations, making the scenario a little different than on streets without bike lanes.
Corey Burger with the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition rode the section shortly after it was finished, and noted in a July 17 blog post that drivers were “sometimes in the bike lane, sometimes not.”
“Not unexpectedly given this is a brand-new bike lane type, drivers didn’t really know what to do. While we were there, about half the drivers spent at least half the time driving in the bike lane even with no oncoming traffic,” he wrote. “Beyond the signs, there hasn’t been much user education yet, so it is unsurprising that some drivers wouldn’t know what to do.”
Previous traffic control changes, however, were designed to limit the number of head-to-head vehicle confrontations further up Humboldt Street.
A City spokesman said in a statement that vehicle traffic on this block has decreased with the closure of Humboldt at Douglas Street last August, a previously completed part of the east-west cycling network. As such, he said, the block is now more like a typical residential street with low vehicle traffic volume, where vehicles yield to each other where parking is permitted on both sides.
For more about the cycling network, visit victoria.ca.