The co-founder of a Kamloops cycling advocacy group says city cyclists had mixed reactions after council rejected plans to build a new downtown multi-use path, but she is hopeful a focus on seeking community input will result in good infrastructure down the road.
After a lengthy discussion on Tuesday, city council voted 6-3 against a proposal which would see a 670-metre multi-use path constructed along Lansdowne Street, linking the recently opened Sixth Avenue bike lane to Second Avenue and the Rivers Trail beyond.
Deb Alore of the Kamloops Cycling Coalition said she initiated a social media poll after Tuesday’s vote, asking group members if they agreed or disagreed with the decision.
She noted there “definitely seems to be two lines of thought," adding both approaches make sense and come with their own risks.
“[There are] people that are happy to have anything, and would like to see something now to move the culture forward rather than risk further complications and longer delays,” Alore said.
“Then, there's other people more concerned with wanting to make sure the infrastructure is very strategically, carefully located and the design is optimum. They feel if we're going to spend the amount of money these things cost, they want them to be done to the greatest standard we can achieve.”
According to Alore, some felt it would have been best for cyclists and pedestrians to be separated along the full length of the Lansdowne pathway, something seen as more desirable especially as there’s an anticipated increase in future use.
Some cyclists were also concerned with the path’s termination at Second Avenue, forcing riders to cross double train tracks before accessing Riverside Park, or having to merge into traffic for a block to access the park at First Avenue.
Bryce Granger, a Kamloops Cycling Coalition director, said with the Lansdowne proposal, some saw a “golden opportunity” to fill a gap in cycling infrastructure by piggybacking construction on a utilities project, but he respected questions around whether or not it was an ideal route.
He said questions remain around how to best fill the gap in the active transportation network between Riverside Park and downtown, noting there’s a “well-established piece of infrastructure” on Sixth that could use better connectivity.
However, Granger said there’s other gaps in active transportation infrastructure to address, including those created by Highway 1, Highway 5 and the Halston Bridge. He noted there’s other, smaller opportunities too — including adding lines and signs around existing bike routes.
“One thing about Kamloops is we are about 10 to 15 years behind most other communities, so we don't have to make the same mistakes,” Granger said.
“We can learn a lot from what other communities have done, and there's a lot out there that we see as an organization that can be quickly and easily implemented without too much cost.”
Alore said she remains hopeful around the processes being employed by the city as it embarks on a project to revisit the active transportation component of its Transportation Master Plan. She said the KCC is representing the cycling and walking community on a related advisory committee.
She said she has noticed a willingness to better engage with the community, noting “user input is critical.”
“I think we have to look at that as a step in the right direction and continue to foster that. There always is going to be compromises with these kinds of things, but fostering a positive relationship to find solutions is the way to go,” she said.
Alore said she was encouraged Tuesday's meeting spurred a lot of dialogue, and thanked city staff and elected officials for the time they took consider the project.