First half of Penticton bike lane officially opens on Sunday

Bike lane grand opening

The first section of Penticton’s new bike lane officially opens Sunday morning, and the urban cycling director for the Penticton and Area Cycling Association is excited.

“I think we first went in front of council two and a half years ago, asking them to restart this, essentially the bike plan they had from 2012,” Matt Hopkins said. “To see it in the ground, I mean, I rode it today, because it is operational up to White. It's obviously just the beginning but it's really, really exciting.”

Initial use of the lane may not be as heavy as first hoped, due to the heatwave and ongoing heavy smoke in the area, but Hopkins hopes to see seasoned and new cyclists alike testing it out.

“I hope people come down. I hope it's going to be busy, but it's hard to say with the conditions… The nice thing about an all ages and abilities facility is that it's designed for young people, it's designed for older people, it's really designed as an inclusive piece of infrastructure that anyone can use.”

The City of Penticton will be kicking off the grand opening for the first sections of the lake-to-lake bike lane with a 9 a.m. ribbon cutting at Lakeshore Drive. The event will also include some education for the community on how the two-way cycle route can be safely used.

After that, cyclists will be invited to ride the completed section to the Penticton Library for some treats, then back to Gyro Park where cycling ambassadors will be available to answer questions about the project. The ambassadors will also be stationed along the route.

“It's pretty straightforward to use, I think, pretty much anyone should feel comfortable using it,” Hopkins added.

When the bike lane construction started downtown, some businesses voiced concerns about the impact it had on their business traffic as well as worries for future customers now that there was less parking in their area.

But Hopkins added that since downtown hasn’t been very inclusionary for cyclists and other transportation in the past, this could be the right step to changing that.

“We have to make it easier and more attractive for people to walk, bike and use public transit. We need improvements in those areas for a number of reasons. I mean, a lot of people don't drive cars, a lot of people don't want to drive cars,” he said.

“It's a form of transportation that doesn't cause any pollution. So I think within our OCP, we look at you know, the important investment, the top of the investment pyramid is, you know, for pedestrians, and then bikes, and then at public transit. So I think it's nice to see, council investing in these things and giving people really like a transportation choice.”

The $8 million price tag is another pain point for some in the community, who would like to have seen their tax dollars spent elsewhere.

One resident voiced this concern at Penticton’s special council meeting on Thursday, where just two RCMP officers were hired instead of the proposed five wanted by Mayor John Vassilaki, since most council members wanted to address the budget first.

“I think the cost, you know, of course, it does cost money. I mean, you look at this project that we've got so far. It's almost 50 per cent paid for by grants, and the federal government's granting more money for active transportation so if the provincial government. So the timing is great,” Hopkins refuted.

“I don't think it's an expensive investment, quite frankly, but we'll see.”

Check out Gyro Park for the Pedal Penticton Expo where you can demo an e-bike from the Bike Barn and Freedom Bike Shop, take a ride in a tri-shaw with Cycling without Age, register your bike with the Project 529 bike security initiative, and learn more about cycling in the area with the Penticton and Area Cycling Association and Hoodoo Adventures. Cyclists will also have the opportunity to use the Bike Valet service throughout the morning.

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