Around 75 people protested outside Penticton City Hall on Tuesday, May 16, to show their opposition to the planned construction of bike lane barriers along South Main Street.
Signs reading “protected bike lanes mean less parking” were among the messages shared by those against the city’s plans for the final section of the controversial project. The protest was held while city council was holding their evening meeting.
Organizers said that while they are in favour of the concept of bike lanes, they don’t approve of the city’s intention to build concrete barriers on each side of South Main Street, as currently seen along Atkinson Street.
“We’re just a group of concerned citizens, that’s all,” said Penticton resident Alf Norrish, who was among those to attend the protest. “We’re not against bike lanes, but it’s really about the barricades that we want the city to know that we’re not happy about.”
While parking was among the primary concerns shared at the protest, the group also says they fear the concrete barriers will pose a “significant” safety risk along South Main Street.
The final phase of the lake-to-lake bike lane, which comes with a price tag of $1.5 million, will see the construction of concrete barriers along the street, starting around Kinney Avenue and ending near Yorkton Avenue by Skaha Lake Park.
Norrish said that out of six people to speak at the protest, one of which was a cyclist who shared why he believes barriers do not work.
“We want this city council to be aware that there are a lot of people upset about this,” Norrish said. “The protest was about South Main and the barricades that are set to go up.”
No politicians acknowledged or came out to the protest while it was happening, Norrish said.
It comes less than two weeks after a similar gathering at the Penticton Seniors’ Drop-In Centre on May 9. The meeting was so busy that James Miller and Amelia Boultbee, two city councillors who have voted against the project’s continuation, couldn’t get in the doors.
Owners of the long-running South Main Market Tracy and Dan Fehr have previously shared their concerns over the city’s plans, which got full approval in March following this year’s budget deliberations. They fear the barriers will impact parking, delivery access and the viability of their business.
The group responsible for organizing the citizens’ meeting on May 9, and the protest outside Penticton City Hall earlier this week says there are future gatherings planned.