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Plan for neighbourhood bikeway approved for two-wheel thoroughfare in Nelson

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
May 15th, 2020

The city will be cycling forward with its plans for a primary bike route through the streets of Nelson, but it won’t be able to put rubber to the road for some time.

City council approved the Neighbourhood Bikeway concept for both the High Street Corridor — with two-way vehicle circulation — and Third Street.

Those design options from the consultant’s report — City of Nelson: High Street and Third Street Cycling Infrastructure Conceptual Design report — also included the Nelson Avenue and Anderson Street intersection.

The High Street corridor will include two-way motor vehicle travel with traffic calming and shared use lanes, while the Third Street (option two) will include curb extensions. Nelson Avenue and Anderson Street intersection (option two) will employ the full access restriction.

However, the city will hold-off on detail design work and implementation of any of the design options approved until the results of the BC Active Transportation Grant application are received. Council had removed any budget money slated for the project in order to cover off the Covid-19 shortfall.

Staying active with the plan

The Primary Bike Route concept was brought forward in the updated Active Transportation Implementation Plan — adopted by council in 2019 — to provide a “safe, comfortable and connected bike route that would link all the neighbourhoods together, provide access to key amenities and converge in the downtown.”

As a result, High Street corridor and Third Street were identified as the first phase of this project, noted city senior planner Sebastien Arcand in his report to council.

“It would provide a link between Fairview and the downtown and would also provide a connection to Lakeside Park,” he said. “It needs to be simple and predictable and continual throughout the city and that’s where we are going with designing these.”

In late February an infrastructure conceptual design report was completed by Urban Systems Ltd., providing an overview of existing conditions, a summary of design criteria, concept plans and the preferred option for each corridor with a class “D” cost estimate.

Arcand said the community consultation has been completed and, overall, there seems to be support to move forward with the project. This is not surprising considering the city has the third highest use of active transportation in B.C.

“And that’s really what this is all about is trying to find that middle ground,” said Arcand. “We are not trying to design this for the strong and fearless who get out and cycle, but how do we get others on their bikes … and how do we really make them make the jump to commuting.”

Creating the path of least resistance

The consultant’s report recommends that, if High Street corridor remains a two-way street, it will be important that the Anderson Street and Nelson Avenue intersection be modified to reduce traffic volume.

The report recommends a full access closure for cars in and out of the High Street corridor.

“In the event that grant funding is not awarded, staff will review the design to see if there are interim measures that can be implemented at a reduced cost to continue with implementation of this project,” noted Arcand in his report to council.

Cash crunch numbers

The city has submitted an application for the BC Active Transportation Grant, money that could potentially cover up to 70 per cent of the project costs.

However, no updates have been received on the state of the grant funding for 2020.

Next steps

What is next in implementation of the primary bike route project:

  • council to select an option for High Street corridor;
  • wait for grant funding announcement;
  • detailed engineering work; and
  • initiate installation of bike facilities and sidewalk improvements.

— Source: City of Nelson

The cost of the circuit

In total, establishing the first segment of the city’s bike route network would be in the range of $500,000 to $600,000.

That money would provide a two-kilometre bike route connecting downtown with Fairview, and offer connection options to the bridge and Lakeside Park, as well as provide pedestrian improvements along Third Street.

If the project grant is approved, the city could receive funding of up to $420,000, with the city’s contribution in the range of $180,000.

Currently, the city has $28,000 in the active transportation reserve that will contribute to the project, and budget dollars earmarked for curb-letdowns throughout the city ($140,000) that could be used for the project.

“Essentially, the grant would allow the city to complete the work in this location at a substantial saving,” said Arcand.

A safe cycle

Other departments within the city were contacted to ensure that the designs would not compromise other city operations.

Even though the proposed bike route will require changes in operations, no major barriers were identified, Arcand noted.

“The City Campground would be more impacted in a one-way scenario as it could create way-finding issues with tourists in the early days of the new configuration,” he said. Letters of endorsement have been received by the following:

  • Nelson Fire and Rescue Services
  • Nelson Transit
  • Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructures
  • Interior Health
  • West Kootenay Cycling Coalition
  • West Kootenay EcoSociety

Get the straight goods

In order to help generate some public feedback on the plan, mail-outs were sent to properties along the proposed corridors, while social media was used to invite impacted residents and the community as a whole.

The consultant’s report is available online for public review at www.nelson.ca/activetransportation.

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