Chilliwack is in the midst of playing “catch-up” on the way to becoming a more bicycle friendly community.
Council approved the Bicycle Transportation Plan 2014-2024 at in chambers at city hall last week.
It features an updated map of all 180 km of bike lanes, paved shoulders and paths in Chilliwack, as well as a “vision” map with ultimate goals for a built-out network.
“I think Chilliwack is playing catch-up on this,” said Chuck Stam, city councillor and chair of the Transportation Advisory Committee. “We were behind a bit in terms of bike lanes, in the process of moving from being a smaller community to a larger one. But being a farm community and quite flat, we already attract a lot of bicycle tourism.”
The bike plan is specifically geared to improving bike lanes, and the “urban pieces of connectivity” between Chilliwack proper and the south side.
“That connectivity is what’s missing. So this bike plan is a good guideline to get us talking,” said Stam.
For the first time the cycling public gets clarity on existing inventory of bike lane facilities and routes.
Here’s the bike plan vision statement approved with the bike plan: “That Chilliwack will become a safer, bicycle friendly community where cycling is not only for recreation but a viable green transportation alternative, offering energy conservation and promoting fitness.”
The plan is a list of priorities up to the year 2024, for bicycle related infrastructure improvements, with an eye to improving safety, making the bicycle a viable transportation option, and ensuring respect for cyclists in the eyes of the motoring public.
“It is not intended to drive spending,” reads the staff report, “but recommends improvement and maintenance priorities so as funding becomes available it can be focused as effectively as possible to improve bicycle transportation facilities throughout the city
It will bolster future applications by the city for provincial and federal funding.
The plan, first created in 1999, was created primarily by a volunteer effort by the bike plan working group.
“This is not a government document, and it’s not being crafted by staff and politicians, there was a lot of input from the community,” said Coun. Stam. “So thanks to them for the investment of time and wisdom to make this a realistic and workable plan.”
TAC also gave its support in March for the bike plan.
At the council meeting Coun. Ken Huttema congratulated the committee on its work toward creating “first class biking lanes” for Chilliwack.
Coun. Sue Attrill asked if bike lanes were automatically put into the paving plans of new roads, or if that had to be planned for.
The answer given by staff was that the Bicycle Transportation Plan was used to determine whether or not they would be included.
Coun. Ken Popove wanted an update on the Rail Trail project, which would help connect the north and south sides of the city.
Preliminary design work has been completed on the project, and the Rail Trail matter will likely be back within 60 or 70 days before council.
The Provincial Cycling Infrastructure Partnerships Plan (CIPP) and other related programs have “contributed significantly” to the advancement of the paved shoulder and pathway network over the last few decades. This plan updates and formalizes the city’s cycling infrastructure goals and will support future applications for funding under Provincial or Federal initiatives.