We’re currently asking people what it would take to get out of their car and onto a bike. So we took up the challenge ourselves and decided to hit the road to our first open house…by bike.
Our open houses are designed to be interactive and educational and we try to pop-up in neighbourhoods across the city. We aim to “go to where the people are” and we generally bring a lot of stuff with us. Picture: handouts, buttons, a survey box, three easels, a canister for our biking map, a small folding table, a trivia spinning wheel and three display boards. Insert: A bike trailer.
With the trailer in hand, a few bungy cords and a new cheery orange safety flag, it was time to start packing. Most of the supplies did fit. Our colourful trivia wheel was deemed a bit too large for a first trip and the display boards were a few inches too wide but generally it all fit.
All loaded up, it was time to head out to see what streets felt good and which could use some improvements. The trip: from City Hall to Fernwood Square. As a recreational rider most comfortable on quieter, scenic routes, but with knowledge of navigating and sharing roads with cars, I set off, somewhat gingerly, walking my bike and trailer around the corner of Pandora to Johnson- a street going the way I wanted, but lacking bike lanes downtown. (Did you know the original Bicycle Master Plan didn’t include bike routes downtown?) I decided that Johnson was the route to take. I was off.
I took over the right hand lane and felt ok with the flow of Saturday traffic. The sight of bike lanes when I reached Cook Street, was much appreciated, especially with the hill ahead heading up towards Fernwood Avenue.
Once I turned left onto Fernwood, I realized I was without a bike lane. I took a deep breath, signalled and pulled into the center of the one car lane heading into the village. I kept cruising at a pretty good rate. I then signaled to tell the car behind me that I was slowing to turn and made my way to the gazebo in the Fernwood Square where I met my colleague and our trivia wheel and display boards. I felt energized, a bit windblown, and ready for an afternoon of talking to residents about what would make biking more accessible for them.
In the coming weeks, watch for us on our bike, give us a cheery honk, or hop on your bike and come meet us at a pop-up open house. You can also share your ideas through the online survey at www.victoria.ca/cycling
The City of Victoria is currently working to update the Bicycle Master Plan. Victoria’s first ever Bicycle Master Plan was created in 1995 and has guided the development of Victoria’s cycling infrastructure since then. The updated Bicycle Master Plan will take into account changes that have occurred in Victoria over the last 19 years, including a growing interest in cycling, an expanded regional cycling network, plans for future growth and new regional and City plans and policies.