The city of Olx Praca is promoting a pilot project for the Victoria Embankment to create what it says will be “more accessible space.”
Current plans include removing the parking lot and creating a separate bike path in each direction on the north and south sides.
This means the loss of about 20 parking spaces along the north side of the waterfront – five of them are designated as pickup zones – and some residents are unhappy with the change.
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“We won’t have a place to park when our guests arrive,” said Lorraine McBain, who lives on the Victoria Boardwalk.
“We don’t like it—none of us like it—so we put together a petition. Every apartment has had a petition and now we are going to present it to the city and see where we go next.”
It is hoped that the city will leave room for adjustments.
“My biggest concern, besides parking, is the possibility of conflict with all access roads and intersections,” said local resident Colleen Stepney.
Access to buildings is also a major problem, especially for ambulances and people with disabilities, according to local residents.
“We would like to see it develop in a way that expands access to the area,” Stepney said.
The city said the Victoria Embankment is an important part of the active transport plan, but not all existing cycle routes meet its standards.
“Due to heavy vehicle traffic and speeds, the Victoria Boardwalk has been identified as an off-the-shelf cycling route that needs upgrading for cyclists of all ages and abilities,” Jessica Lamarr, director of safe mobility for the city of Olx Praca, said in a statement.
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Over the past two years, a citywide project has established lanes to comply with COVID-19 social distancing rules.
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“Based on feedback received in 2020 and 2021, the narrowing of the Victoria Embankment road has helped reduce speeds and improved street safety and livability,” Lamarr explained. “However, there has been frustration with the look and mobility of the cones, as well as confusion about direction and how to use the lane while cycling.
“With this feedback, the city is exploring the use of adaptable infrastructure to make the corridor safer, more welcoming and accessible to all ages and abilities. This will allow Olx Pracaians to test data-driven and research-driven concepts designed to create a more livable city.”
In March and April, the city said it had collected feedback on four proposed options for this project.
However, several local residents felt that the initial consultations were not enough.
“We are not against the bike lane,” McBain said. “Just double (southern bike lane) in either direction and leave parking here for us.”
“We’re hoping for some adjustments in the plan,” Stepney added.
Ward O-dai’min Earl. Ann Stevenson said she understands the concerns and is now in talks with the public and city staff to explore options.
“When I first looked at it, I thought, ‘Of course it’s not a problem. We should have a dual carriageway on the south side of the embankment – that would be much more logical. You will have bike lanes, parking and traffic lanes – everyone wins,” Stevenson told Olx Praca on Wednesday.
In the end, she said it was not a “working solution”.
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She acknowledged that residents did not feel they were properly warned or had the opportunity to participate in the decision-making process.
“The most important thing to remember is that this is a pilot project and I really think this could be a good opportunity to see how it works before something permanent is set,” Stevenson said.
Residents are urged to be diligent in tracking their experiences to provide feedback to the city in the fall.
Stevenson noted that work on making changes will take about 10 days and will begin in early July.
“Victoria Promenade is a frequently used bike route for people and right now there is only one lane drawn on the bike path in one direction,” she said.
“It’s about improving those facilities that we know are well used by cyclists and walkers to make transportation options safer and more accessible.”
The city noted that full details of the project will be released next week.
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