The northbound bike lane on Highway 19A currently comes to an end just north of Hidden Harbour along Highway 19A, putting cyclists in an unsafe position. The River City Cycle Club urged council to address this last summer, and this spring, it will do so.

Bike lane coming for Hidden Harbour hill

Painting work will take place this spring

The city will paint a bike lane on the side of the old highway from the end of the Seawalk up the hill beside Hidden Harbour and as far as 1st Avenue.

After a presentation last July by the River City Cycle Club, city staff was asked to come up with options to make that particular stretch of road safer for those on bikes.

“It is not comfortably wide enough for cyclists and pedestrians, forcing pedestrians towards the road and cyclists onto the uneven grass surface,” said Sandra Milligan on behalf of the cycling club at last July’s presentation to council. “If they have to dismount, remounting to continue the ride can be impossible until the top of the hill.

“In the time I spent on site, every single cyclist went up on to the sidewalk. It is illegal to cycle on a sidewalk,” Milligan said. “Alternatively, they don’t go up the hill.”

Milligan also said she consistently sees cyclists end their ride at the bottom of the hill at Hidden Harbour. She even spoke with one young family who intended to ride to the pier for ice cream but instead, camped out at the picnic table at the end of the Sea Walk because of the lack of a bike lane.

“The hill is a significant barrier to cyclists entering downtown,” Milligan added, noting Hidden Harbour is “the end of the ride for many cyclists.”

At this week’s meeting, council received that staff report and decided to implement their recommendation for a northbound bike lane being painted using existing road space, “by shifting the centre median over and shortening the length of the left turn lane at 1st Avenue.”

If the city of Campbell River aims to encourage cycling, the report says, and lists Highway 19A as a bike route in its Master Transportation Plan, they need to address “the barrier to cycling at Hidden Harbour. Creating some form of bicycle infrastructure up the hill from Hidden Harbour to 1st Avenue would create a continuous lane/shoulder/pathway along Highway 19A from Jubilee Parkway to downtown.”

“Are we looking at painting other conflict points?” asked Coun. Larry Samson, pointing out that at some other points along the highway, such as 2nd Avenue, “where you might have painted patches on each side of the intersection so it lets the bicyclists know as their heads are down in a southeast storm that they’re coming into an intersection, but also lets the vehicles know if they’re going to be turning right off the highway and turning up 2nd that they are crossing into a recognized bike lane. Is there any plan in the works to start looking at these conflict points?”

Drew Hadfield, manager of transportation, said there aren’t currently plans to do that, “but it’s definitely something we can look at and this might be an ideal place to look at that.”

Coun. Charlie Cornfield asked why there isn’t a southbound bike lane in the plan, to which Hadfield said they believe the shoulder on the southbound side was widened “about three years ago,” that provides adequate room for cyclists.

The painting of the bike lane will take place this coming spring.