Nanaimo fosters use of alternative transportation with bike lanes

NANAIMO – City plans to do road improvements to make alternative transportation easier for residents

New bike lanes in north Nanaimo are just the beginning of the city’s push to make alternative transportation more attractive to commuters, officials say.

The City of Nanaimo recently wrapped up an improvement project on Dover Road where work crews painted new bike lanes and widened sidewalks.

According to city officials the changes are part of a new attitude toward road work that will see crews search for  opportunities to improve networks for cyclists, pedestrians and transit users. Making improvements during regularly scheduled work is a more efficient use of resources and will help make roads safer for people choosing not to travel by car.

“We are trying to make (transit and cycling) more attractive options so we can shift ourselves to a more sustainable mix of transportation,” said Gordon Foy, the city’s transportation planning engineer.

“As we move forward with capital projects … we’ll be putting more focus on making sure we are accommodating cyclists and other pedestrian road users more explicitly than we have in the past.”

The City of Nanaimo started working on Dover Road this summer as part of an effort to improve the area’s network of sidewalks, which were only on one side of the street.

The project expanded to include cycling lanes to make the area – an assigned bike route – safer. Wider sidewalks were created so people in scooters and wheelchairs could exit buses easier.

Nanaimo city councillor Bill McKay, a member of the Transportation Advisory Committee, says cities are starting to dedicate more resources to creating places for pedestrians and the Harbour City is no different. So many streets in the city continue to lack sidewalks and “a lot of the roads are damn scary,” he said.

He’d like to see the city invest more money in Nanaimo’s cycling network, as well as investigate how much  the city saves because of its investment in green transportation.

The city’s new $700,000 transportation master plan is expected to be released this fall and will also help decide future investment for pedestrian and cycling infrastructure.