A once booming and blossoming downtown has now entered a downward trend and a significant factor (among others) has been inaccessibility due to permanent road closures. Bike lane construction has tightened our major arteries into and out of the downtown Victoria core and the closure of streets such as Government and Vancouver have caused traffic to spill over to alternative routes, giving Victoria a taste of big city traffic jams. ICBC’s website shows that from 2017 to 2021, the municipality of Victoria’s car population increased by 3,822 vehicles.1
Nearly four thousand more vehicles combined with half the lanes available on secondary arterial streets (i.e.: Pandora, Fort, Wharf) and closure of secondary arterials (i.e.: Government, Vancouver, Richardson) have lead to high traffic density in the municipality.2 As the traffic map below shows, downtown core traffic is primarily labelled as “heavy traffic flow” with zones of frequent “critical” level motor vehicle accidents. Dense traffic can also be detrimental to the mobility of first responder vehicles such as ambulance, fire trucks and police cars.
The official municipality of Victoria’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting and Data webpage only has published results up to the year 2019. The bike lane infrastructure project began on Pandora and Fort in 2017 and as the city’s GHG graph shows, there was no measurable impact on C02 and other GHG emissions as a result.3 As the data comes in for the year 2020 and beyond — the post road closure years — it will possibly reflect the negative environmental effects of increased traffic density and idling time.
As you can see on the project map below, Victoria has already implemented the majority of its bike lane infrastructure project.
According to the 2021 census, the municipality of Victoria has a base population of 91,8675 and a workforce of over 49,040.6 According to the 2016 Canada census, 11% of the Victoria municipality commutes to work on bicycles. Please remember that the census relies on surveys and not hard data. The CRD bike count data’s latest published report.7 shows hard stats based on the automated counting units spread around town. As there are many routes through Victoria’s bike lane arteries, it is difficult to gauge exactly how many bike commuters there are. For example, the daily average across all bike counters is a mere 1,075.
However, the main bike route counters such as the Galloping Goose and Johnson Street bridge units register around 2,000 and 2,800 respectively. This counts both directions during peak rush hours, therefore we must assume commuters not only go to work, but come home (and if you access the east/west, north/south data, this is exactly what the CRD site numbers show). Therefore the real number of bike commuters is exactly half the total at each counter. And as we peruse the map of the downtown core, we can see that the Galloping Goose, Johnson Street bridge, Pandora and Fort lanes are almost certain to represent a common and continuous route taken by bikers. Notice how the Pandora and Fort Street counters roughly add up to the Johnson Street bridge total. Could this be representative the same bike population flowing past each counter?
If we take the data as indicative of general flow we avoid the low ball number of 1,075 and avoid the high ball number of 11% taken from the soft survey data in the census. If we assume the total bike commute demographic is somewhere between 1,500 to 2 thousand people within the city population, we have an estimated 1.7% to 2.1% of the general population engaging in bicycle commutes for work or recreation. I understand this is an estimate of people in the official bike lane arterial system and not all bikers, but my case here is to show the usage of the AAA bike network.
Would it be fair to say that this is a small percentage of the population and that until usage increases, we do not need to increase traffic density and duration (which increases idling time and therefore most likely GHG emissions) any more than we already have? Elderly and disabled people cannot access these lanes and young families that have to drop kids off at school, do grocery runs, go to work, etc are also not in positions to use these lanes. I propose balancing our infrastructure to meet the needs of all Victorians.
Please see my series of proposed solutions below:
Proposal 1: Re-open the artificially closed roads (i.e.: Government, Vancouver and Richardson) in order to reduce green house gas emissions, increase accessibility to downtown for seniors, the disabled and young families as well as to help feed the business sector downtown.
Proposal 2: To re-instate as many road-side parking spots as possible to open up the downtown to consumers.
Proposal 3: To re-instate free parking on both Saturdays and Sundays to incentivize people to come to the downtown core.
Proposal 4: To cease the bike lane infrastructure project in order to allow access to the downtown core to the diverse needs and abilities that represents the panoply of Victoria’s different demographics (e.g.: the elderly, the handicapped, young families, etc).
Proposal 5: convert bike lanes to single direction (with traffic) to increase the safety for bikers, pedestrians and drivers.
Proposal 6: To re-open roads into Beacon Hill Park and to re-open the full circular route through Clover Point in order to render these areas accessible to all of Victoria’s demographics (e.g.: the elderly, the handicapped, young families, etc).
Please consider me and my www.vivavictoria.ca teammates this election,
Emmanuel V. Parenteau
1. ICBC statistics: https://public.tableau.com/app/profile/icbc/viz/VehiclePopulationIntroPage/VehiclePopulationData
2. Victoria BC traffic map: https://www.localconditions.com/canada/british-columbia/victoria/traffic/
3. Victoria, B.C. Greenhouse Gas Reporting and Data: https://www.victoria.ca/EN/main/residents/climate-action/greenhouse-gas-reporting-data.html
4. Victoria’s AAA Cycling Network: https://www.victoria.ca/EN/main/residents/streets-transportation/walk-roll-transit/cycling/victoria-s-aaa-cycling-network.html
5. StatsCan, Victoria B.C.:
6. Townfolio Victoria B.C. workforce: https://townfolio.co/bc/victoria/labour-force
7. CRD Bike Count Automated data:
Leave a Reply