bike lane
Fort Street bike lane (Jay Wallace Images)

With downtown Victoria’s bike lane network continuing to expand, some residents have turned to social media to voice their frustration, which has prompted interesting responses from Mayor Lisa Helps.

“Took me almost 20 minutes in a car to get 5 blocks down Wharf from Pandora. Frightening- pedestrians and bikes everywhere!” said one Victoria resident on Twitter.

“Horrible experience. What a terrible mess!”

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In response to this frustrated driver’s experience, Mayor Helps replied to the tweet saying “I personally love the ‘messiness’ of all those pedestrians and bikes!”

The reply has caused some controversy in the community, dividing vehicle commuters and pedestrians.

“The less people dragging their personal, climate controlled, 2-ton, 200 horsepower, livingroom on wheels into urban centers, the better,” said one Twitter user, Emily Montgomery.

“Yes, and the ‘messiness’ it’s really, really great for the visually impaired and pedestrians with limited mobility,” replied another user, dotmackenzie. “Way to go inclusive Victoria!”

“That’s what cities of the future look like…”

When asked about the concerns some residents had about increasingly busy intersections, Mayor Lisa Helps told Victoria Buzz that despite growing pains, the busier pedestrian and bicycle traffic are a positive step for the future of the city.

“There are hordes of people who are now walking through Wharf Street and I think that’s fantastic,” she said.

“I was actually delighted to see that Wharf Street has come alive and all we did was change the traffic patterns a little bit. I think it’s actually quite exciting.”

According to Helps, while pedestrian safety may be an issue, the community’s ability to adapt to traffic pattern changes should not be underestimated.

“Hospitalization of pedestrians due to conflict is higher than it’s been in the past 10 years, but pedestrians are the most vulnerable in safety incidents,” she said.

“Everyone needs to be more careful, including people on bicycles and people in cars.”

With the newest stretch of protected bike lane opening on Wharf Street on August 2nd, Victoria is showing no signs of slowing down its infrastructure projects.

“That’s what cities of the future look like around the world, and we’re a small powerhouse leading change in North America,” said Helps.

See also: Victoria will spend over $1.2 million more on bike lanes to complete the network by 2022 (February 2019)

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