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Improving, creating cycling infrastructure main points in updated active transportation plan

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
November 24th, 2019

When it comes to active transportation Nelson is one of the leading communities in the nation for people getting around without the use of fossil fuels.

Nearly one third of the population in the city commutes by active transportation — 30 per cent, according to a 2016 Census — one of the highest percentages in B.C. (second only to Victoria) and across Canada.

But the city is now looking to improve the cycling infrastructure in a topographically challenged city to move that figure of active transportation even higher.

Towards that end, the city has dug back into its Active Transportation Plan, directing a working group to revise the document and lay out an implementation plan to provide guidance to the city on active transportation over the next five years.

And what the group has found, and what it has recommended, has not changed since the plan was first created in 2010 and the key considerations are still relevant.

Key recommendations of the plan are to create a user-friendly document for the community, staff and council, as well as to focus on building a primary cycling network.

“We need to focus on creating that primary cycling network and recognize that we don’t have a lot of cycling infrastructure,” said city senior planner Sebastien Arcand in his presentation to city council on the plan.

“And with the increasing popularity of electric bikes we need to start thinking about it and provide some infrastructure for increasing cycling.”

The implementation plan will also be updated and yearly tracking of the plan will now take place.

The action items on the implementation plan were divided into six categories, including expanding the active transportation network, improving wayfinding, signage and trip planning as well as safety, traffic calming, education and awareness.

The plan implementation will also look at providing more bicycle parking and other end-of-trip facilities, with monitoring of active transportation trips, investments and initiatives.

Since the city has topographical challenges with its steep hills and narrow streets, any approach to active transportation infrastructure will need to be homegrown and adapted to the Nelson nuances to be effective, said Arcand in his presentation to city council.

However, each action item in the implementation plan is relatively general, with the intent that it will be reviewed in detail at time of implementation.

“For example, the implementation plan proposes a primary bike network. However, it doesn’t provide a detailed description of what this bike network will look like,” wrote Arcand. “This will provide staff with the flexibility to explore options for each component of the cycling network individually. Individual items will then be brought to council prior to implementation.”

An implementation plan map will be created to provide a visual reference tool to layout the action items to be completed over the course of the next five years.

“It will be a living document and be adapted as required,” Arcand explained. “The focus will always be around ensuring a connected active transportation network providing options for all.”

And recognizing that the downtown is a little more challenging for developing cycling.

The first working group considered what the major assets in the city were and where were the key destinations, where people needed to travel on a daily basis, breaking it down by neighbourhood.

In order to move forward and accomplish the proposed implementation plan a staff working group will now need to be established, said Arcand.

“The idea would be for the working group to establish a yearly action plan detailing items to be completed over the following year,” he wrote in his report to council.

The yearly action plan would then be presented to council and, if it passed approval, the necessary steps would then be taken to add the action items to the budget and to departmental work plans.

The plan was received for information. During the second week of November the active transportation plan city staff working group was initiated.

Categories: General


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