Fort Street

Fort Street is strategically  located  in the centre of Victoria’s downtown  minimum  grid  of  all  ages  and  abilities  cycling infrastructure, accommodates existing and future demand for cycling, and balances the needs for all road users.

Project Update:

The Fort Street protected bike lane project is now in the construction phase, but the City is reminding residents and visitors that Fort Street is open for business! As part of the upgrades, a new two-way protected bike lane will be built on the north side of Fort Street from Wharf to Cook. In addition to the bike lane, the City will be enhancing select crosswalks and sidewalks, adding new street trees and benches, and undertaking important underground utility upgrades.

The City is working to minimize impacts to businesses, residents and commuters and we appreciate your understanding and patience during the construction process.  While some parking restrictions may be in effect during construction, local access to businesses, homes and driveways will be maintained at all times. In addition, loading areas and accessible parking will be maintained throughout the duration of the construction.

What the public can expect during construction:

Noticeable work during the construction period will include tree removals and re-planting, temporary bus stop relocations and some parking restrictions, and temporarily reduced travel lanes along the corridor depending on the specific activities taking place. Storm drain and sanitary sewer maintenance and drinking water upgrades in select locations on Fort Street will also involve brief periods of excavation and digging.  Sidewalk reconstruction on the north side of the 600 and 700 block will require demolition before concrete pouring and new asphalt will be laid where the bike lanes are going.

 

Fort Street Design

Based on the design approach of providing a tighter grid of facilities in the downtown, Fort Street is recommended as part of the 2018 Priority Network. The City of Victoria is taking the next step in implementing protected bike lanes in the downtown core and Fort Street has been approved as the next corridor to be designed and constructed. When the project is complete, it will include a two-way, physically protected bike lane with new traffic signals on the north side of Fort Street, from Wharf to Cook Street. In addition to these improvements, a number of amenities have also been planned to help make the corridor more enjoyable and safer for all users.

Engagement along Fort Street

From October 2016 to April 2017, the City held public consultation events and meetings with corridor stakeholders, business and property owners as well as commuters to gain insights and suggestions on the design of the Fort Street corridor. Originally the consultation period was scheduled for two months but due to uncertainty among some business owners as to why Fort Street was prioritized as a part of the AAA bicycle network and specific issues with proposed design treatments regarding parking loss, parking composition, and loading needs, consultation was extended.  More than 500 people participated in the process including:

  • Two public open house events
  • One street-side “pop up” information booth
  • Numerous information meetings / feedback sessions with individual businesses, property owners, residents and non-profit organizations
  • A corridor walking tour with property and business owners focused on the 500 and 600 blocks
  • Participation in a DVBA-hosted “Bike Lane Summit Meeting” with a small group of stakeholders to discuss transportation challenges and solutions
  • Meetings with the Accessibility Working Group, Disability Resource Centre and Active Transportation Advisory Committee to review and discuss design treatments
  • Site meetings and design review opportunities with commercial delivery service providers and BC Transit
  • A Fort Street business owner meeting in April to show what changes had been made to retain as much parking as possible

Fort Street is more than a bike lane project. The city wants to ensure that this project improves conditions for all road users, but most importantly pedestrians, cyclists and transit users to encourage more people to take sustainable forms of transportation. Through a “complete streets” design lens, the project aims to accommodate people who drive cars, take transit, walk and ride bikes. Other design elements, such as improved pedestrian crossings, enhanced BC Transit service operations, accessibility enhancements, and improved streetscape and landscaping features are also a part of the project.

The City is thankful for all feedback received during this period, input will be used to inform final designs for Fort Street as well as future consultation/design processes for other corridors in the AAA bicycle network. View the design revisions [PDF - 45.3 MB] for each block and some Fort Street Fast Facts [PDF - 1.9 MB]

What will this project look like on Fort Street when it’s completed?

One of the biggest opportunities that this project provides is the chance to enhance and improve the experience for not only people riding bikes, but all road users. Active transportation investments like the protected bike lanes that will be built on Fort Street offer a variety of improvements for:

People walking:

Protected bike lanes add a buffer between pedestrians and vehicle traffic which offers a safer and more enjoyable experience for people walking. Other amenities such as mid-block crossings increase accessibility and connect people to where they want to go, while benches, trees and public art make the corridor a more pleasurable and desirable street to be on as a pedestrian.

 

People riding bikes:

A protected bike lane physically separates bikes from cars, offering a cycling experience that is safer and more comfortable than standard bike lanes.  Raised medians, planters, on-street parking, or bollards will create this space for people on bikes. Protected bike lanes will encourage people of all ages and abilities to cycle in Victoria and help shift our transportation mode share to increase the number of people who bike more often.

People using transit:

The new protected bike lanes will be on the north side of Fort Street (current bike lanes are on south side) and will remove the possible conflicts between cyclists and BC Transit busses. Fort Street is a transit priority corridor and the new bike lanes will not create delays on transit times. And of course, once a person steps off a bus along Fort Street, they become a pedestrian and can take advantage of the new amenities for those on feet.

 

People driving vehicles:

People driving cars will be separated from people riding bikes in the protected bike lanes, lowering the possibility on-street conflicts. Lane reductions will likely lower the speed at which drivers travel along Fort Street, but will still allow traffic to flow smoothly through the corridor.

Why improvements on Fort Street?

Fort Street has been identified as a favourable cycling route since the bicycle mater plan was created in 1995. Fort Street is relatively flat with appropriate grades (1.6%), it has many key destinations, it serves as a strong east-west connection through the downtown core, and demand is currently high (17%) along Fort Street.

In the 2014 Bicycle Master Plan Update, Fort Street was again identified as a highly desirable route to have safer bike lanes implemented along the corridor. In the “Biketoria” stage – which was initiated in order to review and confirm what was laid out in the Bicycle Master Plan – Fort Street was again identified as a corridor with high demand for safe cycling infrastructure. During the “Biketoria” stage the City and its hired consultants involved a number of stakeholders to help design an All Ages and Abilities bicycle network.

The City continues to work with stakeholders in order to to design and develop an attractive, comfortable and convenient bicycle network in Victoria:

  • External Agencies: BC Transit, CRD, ICBC, as well as surrounding communities such as Saanich, Esquimalt and Oak Bay
  • Internal City departments: Emergency Services (Fire and Police), Public Works,  Parks,  Planning and Engineering (Transportation and Underground Utilities)
  • Neighbourhood Associations: Victoria’s 13 neighbourhood associations were engaged or given the opportunity to provide feedback about the proposed bike lanes
  • Business/Industry Associations: Downtown Victoria Business Association, the Greater Victoria Harbor Authority, Greater Victoria Economic Development Agency, and the Greater Victoria Hoteliers Association

Highlights

  • Extent: Wharf Street to Cook Street
  • Length: 1.2km
  • Road Network Classification: One-way Downtown Core, Arterial
  • Road Width: 12.1-17.6m
  • On-Street Parking: Majority parking both sides
  • Truck Route: Yes
  • Transit Route: Yes (high frequency)
  • Existing Bicycle Facilities: Bike lane
  • Destinations: Connects Downtown, Harris Green and Fairfield neighbourhoods, provides access to diverse retail, employment and service destinations, and is the east west spine of the Downtown network of AAA bicycle infrastructure
  • Connections: Wharf St, Vancouver/Cook, Pandora/Oak Bay

The Recommended Network - Biketoria Interim Report provides additional information about the Fort Street route.

 

Feedback

Do you have feedback about the Fort Street protected bike lanes? Email: engage@victoria.ca