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October 28, 2017 2:53 am

Life in the bike lane

Thursday, August 20, 2015 @ 3:45 AM
by Bill Phillips
Perhaps it was just coincidence.
Perhaps they were just ahead of the game.

But, the morning after Coun. Jillian Merrick delivered a notice of motion to council about cracking down on motorists parking in bike lanes, city crews were out dutifully painting new ‘bike lane’ markers in along Ospika Boulevard and other streets. (Luckily they weren’t using the same outfit that did the street lines so I could actually recognize that the paint was to mark bike lanes.)
Merrick may get a stick in her spokes on this one. If the outcome is to start ticketing and/or towing soccer moms who park on Ospika to watch junior compete at Exhibition Park, or concert-goers coming out of CN Centre, there will be a firestorm not seen since the renaming of Fort George Park.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have an issue with reserving bike lanes for cyclists. However, it’s an issue that has to be handled properly.
Frankly, the city’s approach to cyclists has been a little chaotic in the past.
Take a look around the city.
Boundary Road, which cuts behind the airport, has bike lanes. Right now it goes through a wonderful forest, but if the area is ever developed to it’s dreamed of potential, it will go right through an industrial area. And the other problem is that cyclists don’t use Boundary Road. If you’re in town, you have to drive to get there and if you live out in the Blackburn area, you already have miles and miles of rural roads to cycle on.
Yet, there’s bike lines on Boundary Road.
One of the most heavily used cycle routes in the city, Otway Road, however doesn’t have a bike lane. This despite the fact that last year, and the year before, the city repaved Otway Road. It was done specifically for the 2015 Canada Winter Games, which was absolutely great, but it would have been nice if someone would have looked past 2015 and said “hey, cyclists are constantly using that road, we should put a bike lane in.” But, that wasn’t to be and cyclists share the road with regular traffic as well as an increased number of tandem-trucks coming from, and going to, two asphalt plants and two gravel pits.
One might easily argue that the cyclists should go somewhere else, due to the heavy industrial traffic, but the reality is Otway Road is a long, reasonably flat stretch of road that a lot of cyclists can get to from their backyard. In other words, they don’t have to pack up the bike and drive somewhere to go for a ride.
There’s room for everyone on Otway, or at least there would be if there was a bike lane and the city missed a golden opportunity to install a bike lane when they repaved the road for the Winter Games.
Then there’s North Nechako, where they did install bike lanes, but only after substantial lobbying from the cycling club. The original plan was to leave it narrow and let the cyclists fend for themselves.
I don’t have any problem with the city making sure bike lanes are for cyclists … as long as we don’t end up with motorists getting tickets for parking in bike lanes that cyclists never use and routes that cyclists actually do use being left off the ‘upgrade to bike lane’ list.
Bill Phillips is a freelance columnist living in Prince George. He was the winner of the 2009 Best Editorial award at the British Columbia/Yukon Community Newspaper Association’s Ma Murray awards, in 2007 he won the association’s Best Columnist award. In 2004, he placed third in the Canadian Community Newspaper best columnist category and, in 2003, placed second. He can be reached at billphillips1@mac.com




Its par for the course in Prince George with city planning. Same thing with the municipal lighting.

One goes down Pacific Street From the BCR Site along the hillside next to the old Rustad sawmill out to the Dansen Industrial Site… and not only is there no bike lane, but it has no roadside shoulders, and not a single street light for the whole stretch.

Yet if one goes over to the Willow Cale road east of Boundary Road (will this hook up with Railway Road someday?), a road that has virtually no traffic, its a dead end road, and yet the Willow Cale has street lighting for the entire length of 5km and has had it for over ten years now even though they’ve never been turned on. Ditto for the other Boundary Road up behind the airport… street lighting for the full length.

If only one could take the street lighting poles from the Willow Cale and move them to Pacific Street. What a huge safety improvement this would be. We get game coming off the hillside and the bush literally comes right out onto the road… and god forbid a cyclist after dark in late fall when one can hardly see the road with oncoming traffic lights.

Its almost like PG is planned for developers with road to nowhere wish lists based on a dream… but we can’t seem to get the basic infrastructure in place for the here and now residents and industry currently paying the cities bills.

And then there is also 10th Avenue west of Central not having a single street light… one of the busiest side streets in the city with four fast food franchises and a mega liquor store that also has no lighting in their parking lot either.

Its almost like the city invites the criminal element to this oasis for those that operate in the shadows.

“there will be a firestorm not seen since the renaming of Fort George Park.”


So this is essentially a non-issue? A couple of people resistant to change is hardly a “firestorm”.

There is neither the need nor the room to park on Ospika. It’s just laziness.

i personally do not see a big need for bike lanes to begin with. I see very few bike riders utilizing these bike lanes.

I agree Axman. There is no room, ive been worried as heck a couple times finding myself in the slow lane there. Also at Rainbow on Ospika when people are dropping off kids (although this is shorter duration). I have no issue with begining to ensure no parking on Ospika, if we are trying to accomidate cyclists this seems like an easy (and inexpensive) step. Im also impressed with the way Jillian responded to comments about this issue. She addressed concerns point by point, then left her phone number…didnt see anyone else do that on here. Good for you Jillian, dont let the annonymous hecklers get to you. At least she’s got an opinion on an issue and is making a good case for it.
Eagleone i saw a few lights on 10th just yesterday as part of the triple o’s project…a start i guess.

Bike lanes don’t accommodate left hand turns either way you look at it bikes will still be in the traffic flow

It’s more than just soccer moms parking on Ospika. With the fair the parking lot was full on Sunday and people were parking a long ways down Ospika.

Axman. You have no idea how many emails or phone calls the City received in regards to changing the name of Fort George Park. You can rest assured that there were many, and I belief that the term fire storm covers it quite nicely. You haven’t heard anything from the City indicating that there was a lot of support in favour of the change.

I agree with twobits2015, I don’t see a lot of bikers around Prince George. I am on the road all over the City on a regular basis and bikers are conspicuous by their absence. I can say the same for people using the sidewalks outside the bowl area.

So very few bikers, and very few pedestrians and a $500,000.00 program to make room for non existent bikers. Hmmmm.

I agree with the author that the City needs to be sure that they are doing the right thing before they make any huge changes. Perhaps a long term plan to provide bike lanes and trails away from the busy streets would be a good start. In any event ticketing people who park along Ospika, going to CN Centre, Soccer Fields, Schools, Funerals, Weddings, etc, and other places where this space is being utilized on a regular basis is a non starter.

Its much more sensible to have the biker make a bit of a sacrifice than have thousands of drivers having to change their behavior for six months of the year. We all know that if there are cars in the bike lanes the bikers (quite often) use the empty sidewalks.

Have a nice day.

This story is cheap journalism at it finest Opinion 250 and Bill Phillips!

The bike lane on Ospika Boulevard is just that- it’s a bike lane and has been a bike lane for a long time. The City is finally spending some money to improve the bike lane signage within the City, but somehow Opinion 250 ties that in with the motion going before Council to stop allowing vehicles to park in the bike lanes.
Check out the bike lane signage within this City- it suffers the same fate as all road lines and crosswalk marking etc. Bike markings are wore away and need to be re-painted. I’m disappointed Opinion 250 is trying to add more fire to the issue of vehicles parking in bike lanes.

You know, PG get’s slagged for being anti-bike, but I’ve been pondering that a bit, and I think it’s undeserved. It’s not such a great place if you ride a road bike with skinny tires, and clipped in pedals, because pretty much everything is a hazard to you from gravel shoulders to glass, to not being able to bail if needed.

If you ride a commuter bike, or x country bike, there’s miles of multi purpose trails around the university and FTW. If you want to commute along foothills and avoid ospika, there’s a compact gravel multi use trail that parallels to Ospika and hooks up with all the neighborhoods.

Probably the biggest issue and it’s pandemic as far as I’m concerned – is cyclists who don’t obey the rules of the road – or make themselves visible, and motorists who think because they’ve got two tons around them, the world is theirs to rule and grant courtesy to no one – pedestrians, cyclists, other motorists. When passing a cyclists, pedestrian, etc, if you pulled over just a few feet, it would be so much safer and comfortable.

BTW – not seeing cyclists doesn’t mean they don’t exist. I rarely see RCMP anywhere on the highways but they tell me they do exist and write hundreds of tickets.

How many hours/days in the year do the soccer Moms park on Ospika between 15th and 18th? And how many hundreds of children benefit from the soccer program? C’mon cyclists, can’t you share the road for few hours a day the kids want to ply?

I rode my bike from North Nechako to a meeting in town the other night and it was great! With the paved shoulders, biking is much safer and more fun. Sure I have a truck and use it often, but I like to ride my bike as well when I can. It is good exercise that doesn’t abuse the old knees.

Years ago the city did a study of its recreational facilities called the PERC report and it found the cities recreational trail system was by far the most heavily used recreational asset by the widest variety of people. Also, it was the least expensive to maintain. Bike lanes are just another way for people to move about and recreate.

One of the survey commentaries I remember from the PERC report was somebody complaining about the then newly completed soccer facility at 15th and Ospika. The comment was that it was a waste of space and city resources for seasonal use. I wonder if anybody thinks that is the case now. For about the last 20 years there have been 3000+ kids playing soccer there from May to October. It doesn’t cost the city much to maintain and it give kids and families a place to meet and get some exercise. Maybe in 20 years the bike lanes will be accepted and valued as much as the youth soccer fields.

Why not keep the bikes off the main arteries. When I use my bike I stay off the main roads as much as possible and get to my destination just fine.

I guess there are no usage figures required for taxpayers money in this case.

Now you want to see a horrible road check out Marleau and Bear. Rough, potholes, narrow, no sidewalks, no street lights and serves three subdivisions, a school and highway traffic in and out of the Walmart area.

Mr Phillips must have missed the announcement on July 30 that the City of PG got $250,000 to improve cycling infrastructure in PG. That’s what triggered the painting of the bikes in the bike lanes.

I applaud Councilor Merrick for bringing forward the notice of motion about banning parking in bike lanes. Like she said, they are either a bike lane or a parking lane, not both. As someone who frequently cycles past the soccer fields on Ospika, I have to swing out into traffic to avoid getting hit by drivers opening their doors. That takes me out into the traffic lane and I am fortunate that most drivers are courteous and patient when I have to do that. It is ironic that people who are involved in soccer do so partially to get exercise but don’t want to park far away to do that.
The city could also encourage no parking on that part of Ospika by closing off the passageway through the fence.

As for cyclists on Boundary Rd, road cyclists like that area because the lanes are wide and mostly flat. Watch how many people us those in the evenings.

If Mr Phillips attends the October 5 council meeting for the Bike To Work Week report, he will see a snap shot of how many people bike to work in PG, this year there were over 570 and the total number of kilometers will be surprising.
Like it says in “Field of Dreams”, if you build it they will come. If the cycling lanes are left for cyclists, more will come.
Check out the Prince George Cycling Club is see what cycling has to offer in PG.

I think the author pretty much hit the nail on the head. your not going to tell all those soccer moms that you can not park on Ospika. or the concert goers.

Handing out parking fines is the easy part. it is the back lash. I think Merrick is a one time councilor, unless she starts back tracking.

None the less, I would have to say that one of the managers had an axe to grind against this councilor to be in such a hurry to paint in the bike lanes. He surely would have known the ramification and implications that it would cause, but decided to just follow orders. He/she must pretty much be chuckling to them selves…. following orders. I guess this is a lesson to the new councilors of working with the snivel servants before opening your flap.

Yes, we are a changing society, and yes we need proper bike lanes. Perhaps work with engineering and develop the routes for the bikes. To get from College heights down too the bowl. Don’t put it on major vehicle routes!

He spoke, look at my previous post. The bike lanes are being painted because the city received funds from BikeBC via the provincial government to improve biking infrastructure. It wasn’t because councilor Merrick spoke out. That happened after the lanes were going to be painted.

If the motion goes through, then I hope there will be an education and communication component before people can’t park in bike lanes anymore.

Yes, I agree getting from College Heights to the bowl needs to have carefully chosen routes. If one goes down Cowart then takes the bike paths through the cemetery, that avoids Peden Hill. Also one can go up Tyner, right on Davies then onto Ospika.

570 people biking to work in a City of 75000, is nothing. Not only that the number of kilometers are also nothing. The real question is.

How many people bike to work on a regular bases, not how many who bike during ** Bike to work week **.

Biking for all intents and purposes is a recreational activity, and should as much as possible be kept off the main streets. The next thing you know we will have people who want to snowmobile to work, or ski, or take their dirt bikes, or ride horses, etc;

Lets give it a break. Do what we can to a point, to accommodate those who want to bike in the City, and then get back to more serious problems like the last Utility Bill I got for $564.00. Which means $1128.00 per year. Add to that your regular taxes, and you can see that we have a serious tax problem in this City.

I think you’ce drastically underestimating soccer moms, dads, aunts and uncles. They’ve been very supportive because they understand how important is is to keep families safe, healthy and out of harms way. The CN Parking lot is a great solution to parking at the Rotary Fields, and I hope we can improve the pedestrian crossing between the lot and the fields. Yes, there are special occassions that stretch the limits of the parking lot, but these are exceptions, not the norm. We can work with everyone involved to come up with good solutions for those specials events. I used the overflow parking during the BCNE this year and found it was practically empty most of the time.

In regards to Boundary vs. Otway – there is a clear difference between the two. One road was built a couple of years ago and one was built before I was born. The City has learned that building proper infrastructure from the very beginning is much less costly that trying to retroactvely add it years later. Otway desperately needs wider shoulders, and a clear opportunity was missed. It would have been a very costly endeavour, which we learned from North Nechako. Adding shoulders is more than simply slapping asphalt down an extra few feet. The whole road bed needs to be expanded and engineered amidst the complexities of multiple rail crossings and conflicts with private property. It would have been a multi-million dollar project.

And, to add to that, I remember that nutty PG city engineering lady named Heather, proposing a million dollar overpass walkway from the CN Centre parking lot over 18 th ave to the soccer fields. Small town…., many high paid civil servant idiots.

Sometimes weddings stop at Rainbow park for pictures as well, and the old folks home there overflows their parking lot to using Ospika for special events.

In both cases there is no option but to park on Ospika.

I think this is an issue that should be looked at as a guideline and not as a hard rule with fines and parking cops giving people a hard time.

Let’s hope commonsense prevails Eagleone.

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