The newly installed bike lanes on Broadway Street being welcomed by Chilliwack’s cycling community are causing quite a stir with residents.
Some are calling the freshly painted green-and-white lanes “confusing” and “stupid” as the lines zigzag along the length of Broadway.
There is a lot to take in driving the 2.3-kilometre stretch of the road. There are bike lanes both northbound and southbound, new parking areas on the west side, plastic bollards, plus the existing bus stops.
“The new bicycle lanes may present a bit of a learning curve for drivers, but we will do our best to help with this transition through public education and signage,” said councillor Jeff Shields, chair of the Transportation Advisory Committee for the City of Chilliwack.
It’s the southbound lanes that some residents have been saying are confusing, as the bike lane switches from being right next to the curb to beside the lane of traffic.
The width of Broadway is not consistent, so in some spots the placement of the southbound bike lane moves, like where bus stops are located.
Where the road was wide enough, the city wanted cyclists to be able to pass a stopped bus, and at the same time folks can get off the bus onto the sidewalk without having to cross the bike lane, said city engineering staff.
Where this was not possible, broken-line marks were put in the bike lane so that on the off chance a bus arrives while a cyclist is approaching, the bus can pull to the curb but the cyclists will have to stop and merge into the vehicle travel lane if it is safe to do so in order to pass the bus, city staff said.
The bike lanes on Broadway are part of the city’s Cycle Vision Plan, specifically the Airport-Broadway corridor. They provide buffered and protected on-street bicycle lanes to connect Chilliwack Proper with the cycling network.
Buffered and protected bicycle lanes have additional painted lines and/or plastic bollards giving cyclists extra space between parked vehicles and traffic.
Buffered bicycle lanes will also be installed from the south end of the Valley Rail Trail along Britton Avenue and Spruce Drive to the neighbourhood bike route on Wiltshire Street. Protected bicycle lanes will be installed along the curve on Sheffield Way.
“When Chilliwack’s Cycle Vision Plan was developed in 2017, it included extensive community consultation, which demonstrated a strong desire by participants to safely share the roads through the development of more safe bicycle facilities,” Shields said.
Residents have also said there’s a problem with the new parking areas as they’ve been placed right in front of some driveways.
Broadway Street resident Janet MacNeil said within the first week she already had a number of people park in front of her driveway.
People pull into the parking space in front of her home and sit there for a while as they try to figure out where they are allowed to park, said MacNeil.
Many parking zones throughout the city cross people’s driveways, and drivers know that they aren’t to park in front of someone’s driveway. The only difference here is that the parking lane is offset from the curb, said engineering staff.
The city has put up educational signs to show residents where to park beside the bike lanes, plus letters were sent to all residents on the street explaining how to park.
MacNeil said the signage in front of her home is not in the ideal spot as it’s only located at the end of the designated parking area, not the beginning.
The project is not 100 per cent complete and is expected to be finished this week.
“I know the new bike lanes are a big change for the neighbourhood and I hope that we can help residents become more comfortable with this transition,” Shields said. “We are committed to providing safe bicycle lanes for the cycling community in Chilliwack and believe these lanes will help provide a safe way to share our roads.”
If a driveway is blocked, call the city’s bylaw office at 604-793-2908, or the RCMP after business hours, 604-702-4611.