Bike lanes are not all created equal

Resident provides their thoughts on the state of bicycle infrastructure

I typically ride my bicycle north/south from the Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park red gate to Walmart and  Superstore (and back) four or five times a week for exercise and grocery shopping.

It usually takes about 1.5 hours for a round-trip so I have lots of direct experience riding bicycles in Vernon.

Do I use bike lanes? Yes, along Kalamalka Road past the beach and down to the Kal Tire store.

But forget about using bike lanes on any of the main roads downtown or on much of 25th Avenue. Those lanes are such a risky, low-quality experience that bicyclists seem to avoid them as much as possible.

The worst example of a bike lane is the one on 27th Street going past Canadian Tire. It’s tiny, only one-foot away from logging trucks, semis, RVs and even pickup trucks with extended mirrors.

It’s loud, the road is rough and if I make one wobble to swerve around a sewer grate, I’m dead.

To say nothing of slowing traffic down and frustrating drivers on that road. I think that bike lane is a very poor use of road space. It accomplishes nothing and is just asking for an accident.

The way bicycles actually travel in town is to pedal over to the best available main north/south or east/west route, travel it, and then go your to destination.

The best means the quietest and with the least risk of getting maimed by traffic. Usually the real bike paths are assembled from lots of short segments, as the following example shows.

I can’t speak for the east/west downtown routes. But the main N/S route goes Kidston Road, Kalamalka Road to Kal Tire, through the boardwalk marsh to Polson Park, then (west) on the sidewalks/paths westbound on 25th Avenue, or (north) on the road between A&W to the RCMP station, over the bumpy gravel past the Civic Arena sanitary dump, cross the railroad tracks, north on the Polson Greenway (Yay, excellent bike path) to (left) Superstore or (right) to Village Green Mall to Burger King to Walmart.

I’ve seen other cyclists travelling this same route many times.

The only practical place for bike lanes is on roads wide enough to hold both big trucks and bikes (not the 27th Street style). And even then, if the road is long (25th Avenue), most cyclists will preferentially avoid the noise, speed, and risk of travelling beside big vehicles. That’s why cyclists ride the side paths down 25th Avenue.

For my two bits, the city would be far better off to give the 27th Street bike lanes back to the trucks, and instead, concentrate on optimizing (and advertising) one or more bike-friendly N/S and E/W routes through the back roads or on side paths (eg. 25th Avenue, Polson Greenway).


K. Jameson