Kelowna adds more bike lanes but city numbers show less riders

Bike lanes, less parking

Sarita Patel

Kelowna is known for its active lifestyle, but this week is B.C. Bike to Work week and the number of cyclists and pedestrians on the streets has decreased.

“As we see kind of colder weather we do see a reduction, but we also see a reduction in activity level on say Bernard Avenue," says city of Kelowna active transportation co-ordinator Matt Worona. "There’s a certain amount of peak season versus off-season that plays into that."

He goes on to say this is “typical for this time of year.”

The city’s pedestrian bike master plan is trying to create a culture and develop infrastructure and policies that can support people getting out of their vehicles and using alternative modes of transportation.

Creating bike lanes can often lead to removing parking spots, as seen on Bernard Avenue. Sutherland saw a protected bike lane that recently opened where there was a curbed lane for the cyclist.

In total, the city has removed 158 parking spots with 22 in the downtown core.

The final pavement project of the season will wrap up on the north end of Ellis Street early next week. 

“For the Ellis project we’re looking at, the repaving was already going to happen. What we’ve done is essentially just added a little bit of asphalt on each side and striped bike lanes,” says Worona.

“There’s still parking on either side of the street - this is just a standard operating practice on how we can expand our network in a low cost to the taxpayer way.”

The main reason for the addition of the bike lanes is to keep the residents moving as the space needed to get a bike through is significantly smaller than a car.

“A car to move at 50 kilometres an hour needs about 1,500 square feet of space to continue at that [speed] at one time, a bike need much less space," says Worona.

He continues saying, "if we can convince more people that would like to bike to their destination that it’s possible, that it’s safe… we can free up more space on the roads for people who need to drive.”

Worona tells Castanet Kelowna has the highest number of people taking bike trips per capita than any other city in Canada, not only size-wise but by percentage.

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