James Bay Neighbourhood Association
Submitted by the James Bay Neighbourhood Association
Sarah Webb, Manager, Transportation Planning & Development, City of Victoria, introduced the City's concept of an AAA (all ages and abilities) active transportation network to the James Bay Neighbourhood Association (JBNA) at the regular monthly meeting on May 8, 2019.
This introduction is the first step in the AAA route evaluation exercise. While raising awareness about the upcoming process, the City also seeks input on ways to connect with and involve the James Bay community in developing a viable AAA network.
The City's climate leadership plan (increased walking/cycling for 55% of all trips in Victoria) includes over 30 km of a purpose-built, safe cycling network. The plan includes reduced traffic congestion, traffic calming, improved public transportation, fewer traffic accidents and an increase to greenways through the City.
Meaningful and inclusive public engagement of residents will give the City an understanding of neighbourhood goals in James Bay. Potential cyclists express concerns about road safety. Protected bike lanes, shared roads, and off street facilities are among the range of options in an AAA infrastructure.
Off road pathways can be single or multi-use, physically separated from the road. Protected bike-lanes use barriers to keep bicycles and vehicles separate. Protected intersections clearly indicate where pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles are to cross an intersection. Painted roadways and signage indicate when cyclists and vehicles share the road. James Bay is ideal for shared road routes.
When Victoria had the Biketoria experience a few years ago, the neighbourhood opposed a proposed bike lane on Belleville Street as it did not connect to the Village Centre. James Bay residents indicated that a route that worked for local residents, with focus on a pedestrian oriented Village Centre, accommodation for wheelchairs and mobility scooters, and connections to the two schools in James Bay were priority for connection, and for sharing with visitors.
In 2017/18 the JBNA issued a report, Sharing our Streets, which identified a need for shared streets on Superior, Government, and Oswego Streets. These three routes were considered strong candidates for active transportation infrastructure. The City prefers to focus on one or two routes per neighbourhood so that an initial city-wide AAA route can be established.
City of Victoria staff have been directed by Council to confirm route preferences within neighbourhoods. Both Council and James Bay want an AAA route so there is considerable opportunity. The City has heard that James Bay wants retention of on-street parking, accommodation for large vehicles (fire trucks, delivery vans), connection to important destinations within the neighbourhood, use of public art to enhance AAA routes and improved safety for pedestrians.
In making its decision, the City will consider the Official Community Plan, the James Bay Neighbourhood Plan, transit alignment, underground infrastructure, proximity to commercial/schools/tourist services, curbside management, pedestrian safety, and development applications currently in process.
Throughout 2019, the City wants to hear from all residents including those in apartments, marine users, school community, tourist providers, and businesses in the community, as well as those who have mobility challenges. Notifications of consultation options will be by signs on the streets, postcards delivered to residences, social media, PAC distribution and notifications in The James Bay Beacon.
A list of survey questions developed by the City will ask respondents to identify their connection to the neighbourhood; the JBNA will distribute the survey. One of the questions posed to James Bay residents was to respond to “What are our design objectives?” to frame the discussion.
Concern was expressed about the safety of pedestrian access to the two schools, the need to decrease inappropriate speeds on through streets without diverting traffic to side streets, bike safety, extended school safety zones, greenways for pedestrian traffic, and improved public transit.
The suggestion was made to initiate policing at the start of the cruise ship season, to monitor taxi drivers and restrict their ability to do pickup/drop off at the terminal if they are consistently speeding.
The manoeuver of commercial traffic on Menzies at Thrifty's adjacent to a bus stop was a concern, as was excessive speeding on Toronto Street. Slow the posted speed limit throughout the neighbourhood and enforce speed restrictions. Make James Bay the poster child for AAA infrastructure. Make traffic calming a priority. Slow vehicle traffic down. Put some traffic calming on Dallas Road which does not have any “stop” requirements from Fisherman’s Wharf east.
Narrow sidewalks with overhanging vegetation and intrusive poles are challenging for pedestrians and wheeled vehicle users. Involve Greater Victoria Harbour Authority and ensure that GVHA invests in the AAA infrastructure as well as takes responsibility for the pedestrians and traffic they put onto our sidewalks and streets. GVHA needs to take responsibility for the traffic they generate. James Bay is most densely populated area in the city and forms a significant part of the tax base. We should receive proportionately more to compensate the cost of the cruise ship industry: some real street calming (more colour on faded crosswalks, more crosswalks, pop up speed inhibitors such as those used in Calgary).
How will one bike path in James Bay connect with other bike systems?
Are we better off to develop slower streets into greenways for bikes and pedestrians? Does City have a plan for that issue – develop the busy streets or develop the calm and quiet narrow streets. Residents prefers greenways restricted to local traffic with a focus on bikes and pedestrians. Perhaps bollards would have similar impact as separate bike lanes? Residential parking permits may be a solution to some of the parking issues.
Bike tour operators bring inexperienced cyclists through the neighbourhood. Tour operators should have an experienced 'following cyclist' to monitor the bike pack from behind.
What is the plan for Superior Street? What does Transit require, how wide, how much traffic?
The City will return to continue this conversation after considering the information submitted by residents to the City. Contact Sarah Webb at firstname.lastname@example.org. Next Month Join us on June 12, 2019 for our regularly scheduled general meeting at James Bay New Horizons. Miko Betanzo, City of Victoria Senior Planner, Urban Design will demystify the language and terminology we need to know and understand as we prepare for the local area planning exercise.