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Open house the vehicle to wheel out new proposed primary bike route plan to public

The project on High Street 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. — The Nelson Daily photo

A proposed primary bike route into the city will be cycled into the community early next month.

With a consultant’s report in hand on the proposed first phase of the primary bike route, city staff presented to city council on Monday night during the committee-of-the-whole meeting.

The High Street and Third Street Cycling Infrastructure Conceptual Design report was considered an overview of the existing conditions for cycling in the city, a summary of the design criteria involved, concept plans and the preferred option for each corridor, said city senior planner Sebastien Arcand.

The concept was brought forth last year when the city’s Active Transportation Implementation Plan was adopted by council.

“The general idea of this route is 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,” said Arcand in his presentation report to council.

Through that process it was determined that High Street and Third Street were the first phase of the project, providing a link between Fairview and the downtown, and would also provide a connection to Lakeside Park.

Those routes would improve the safety and comfort for people walking and cycling between Fairview and the downtown, Arcand wrote in his report, and “will encourage residents to travel by sustainable modes within the city.”

In addition, it was felt the proposed routes would create a barrier-free sidewalk from Vernon to Gordon streets.

“Adding this route to the sidewalk clearing priority list would also ensure that accessibility is maintained year round,” said Arcand. “It would also serve as providing safe routes to school in the Fairview neighbourhood.”

The report noted that the city would be required to implement recommendations in its integrated traffic plan to modify Fifth Street to provide an improved connection for motor vehicles between Fairview and downtown.

As well, design changes could re-orient some of the stop signs on Fifth Street to allow the free flow, north-to-south traffic.

“Other traffic calming design features may be required to prevent speeding from becoming a safety issue on Fifth Street,” Arcand explained.

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

Before the fate of that application is known, the city will be hosting an open house on March 5 to present the options to the community and gather feedback.

A final report will be presented to city council to provide a summary of the community consultation and results from the grant application, at which time council could opt to move ahead with the project for 2020.

The report was presented only as information since further community consultation is required prior to finalizing the plans.

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 have been 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 have been 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

The city has scheduled an open house on the plan for March 5 (6-8:30 p.m.) “to allow the community to review the concept plans and provide feedback.”

In order to help generate some public feedback on the plan, mail-outs have been sent to properties along the proposed corridors, while social media will be 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.