Last night, I attended the City of Langley’s Council meeting. The Parks and Environment Advisory Committee’s recommendation to build protected bike lanes along 203rd Street, as part of a larger 203rd Street reconstruction project, was before Council. Staff recommended that Council deferred their decision about whether to build protected bike lanes until costing could be determined, and until public support of protected bike lanes could be gauged.
While I agree that costing needs to be provided in order for Council to determine if they would like to support making our streets safer for all road users, I really have to wonder why building protecting bike lanes would even be considered an optional component on a major thoroughfare like 203rd Street.
Would building a sidewalk be something open for debate? I would certainly hope not.
There was confusion at last night’s Council meeting about the recommendation to building protected bike lanes along 203rd Street, and some of that confusion was caused by Francis Cheung who is the Chief Administrative Office of the City.
Mr. Cheung noted that the 2.5 meter multi-use pathways, that are being proposed for both sides of 203rd Street, are protected bike lanes. This led some on Council to question why further protection would be needed.
The 2.5 meter pathways are not protected bike lanes. Mixing cycling and walking into the same space can create conflicts between people who are walking at a slower speed, and people who are cycling at a faster speed.
Of course, there are many ways to create safe spaces for walking and cycling. For example instead of building on-street bike lanes, the 2.5 meter sidewalk could become a 4 meter sidewalks with a painted line to delineate space for walking and cycling.
Councillor Gayle Martin stated that she was “taken aback” by the Parks and Environment Advisory Committee’s recommendation, and didn’t want to see “Vancouver-style” bike lanes in Langley City. The Parks and Environment Committee was not recommending the construction of a two-way protect bike lanes like in Downtown Vancouver.
Councillor Albrecht and Councillor Hall were not in support of the deferral as they wanted to see protected bike lanes as part of the 203rd Street reconstruction project, full-stop. At the end of the discussion over the recommendation, Council voted to deferred voting on the inclusion of protected bike lanes until costing can be determined, and the public is consulted on the overall project.
I hope that City of Langley staff will come back with a reasonable, cost-effective option for Council to vote on that will make 203rd Street feel safe enough that people will allow their children to walk or bike along the corridor.