Bike lane needs a new name

The public commentary relating to the new bike route through Penticton is constantly riddled with inaccuracies and misinformation.

Let’s address the project name first. The Lake-to-Lake Bike Lane is an unfortunate misnomer. Yes, the route begins and ends close to the two lakes at either end of Penticton. The new bike route will benefit those who choose to cycle instead of drive in a myriad of ways. The least important of which is the lake-to-lake aspect.

It is very true that there is a perfectly fine lake-to-lake route in existence. However, it is strictly a recreational route. It serves no practical purpose whatsoever as a transportation route. Apart from the entrance and exit to this route, there are exactly two ways to leave the existing multi-use path that is adjacent to the channel. Both require crossing the busiest transportation corridor in the South Okanagan and both are far removed from the everyday lives of most residents. So, unless you expect cyclists to travel many kilometers out of their way to access (and exit) this route, it is of almost of no value to any sort of ordinary transportation activity.

The real purpose and value of the bike route is that it is an efficient, convenient and, most importantly, a safe way for cyclists to travel through the primary commercial and economic corridor in our city.

Another big part of the anti-bike lane argument is that there are relatively few bicycle riders on the roads. There is a very good reason for this. It is just incredibly unsafe to cycle on any major roadway in Penticton.

Over the past 2 years or so, there has been a mini explosion of new bike riders – especially on e-bikes and that is going to continue. When Vancouver’s Burrard St Bridge had two bike lanes added to the bridge deck, all of the same negative arguments were presented. Those particular bike lanes are now in constant and heavy use. There is a counter at the end of the Burrard bridge lanes and they indicate as many as 7,000 riders per day!

The new Penticton bike lane has the potential to be an incredible game changer for Penticton. It could easily become the next major driver of tourism in the South Okanagan. It will surely inspire more and more folks to get out of their cars and pick-ups and travel by bike from one end of town to the other and with all stops in between.

So, let’s forget the lake-to- lake name. The bike route is a way to run errands, to go shopping, to go to work/school, to go to appointments, to visit friends and family etc. In other words, all of the same things that we use cars and pick-ups to do.

Richard Hunt, Penticton

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