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The Victoria Park bike lane in Charlottetown will close to pedestrians and cyclists at the end of the day on Sunday, Nov. 1, and reopen to vehicular traffic the next day.
The city's bylaw states that Victoria Park Roadway returns to two-way vehicular traffic on Oct. 31, but the municipality decided that because the date fell on a Saturday it made more sense to give the public one last weekend before making the change.
Council’s standing committee on parks, recreation and leisure had recently submitted a request to keep the lane open to pedestrians and cyclists and closed to vehicular traffic year-round.
However, that request had to be first vetted by council’s standing committee on public works, which is responsible for maintaining the street and snow-clearing services.
The public works committee met on Wednesday and turned down the request to keep the lane open year-round.
“We have looked at it. It’s not that we’re opposed to it, but the lane, as it is set up now, is not set up for snow removal," said Scott Adams, manager of the city’s public works department.
Adams pointed out that the bike lane, also referred to as a paved active transportation lane, is bordered along the centre by large planters and pylons to protect cyclists and pedestrians from traffic in the other lane. Snowplows would damage or destroy both, he said.
In addition, Adams said to remove the planters and pylons for the winter season would create safety concerns for the cyclists and pedestrians as there would be no barrier from traffic.
Concern has also been expressed that pedestrians and cyclists could slip on snow or ice into oncoming traffic.
Joey MacKinnon, the supervisor at the public works garage on MacAleer Drive, agreed with Adams’ assessment, saying the blades on the city’s trucks that clear snow would literally have to be taken off in order to make moving snow possible around the park.
MacKinnon added that snow tends to build up along Victoria Park Roadway, adding to the concern of keeping one lane closed off for cyclists and pedestrians.
While the parks, recreation and leisure committee was suggesting keeping the bike lane open year-round, Coun. Mitchell Tweel, the former chairman of the committee, floated the idea of a pilot project that would keep the lane open until April 1, with a further decision made at that time.
Coun. Alanna Jankov, a member of the public works committee and representative for the area, said the city shouldn’t close the door to a year-round bike lane through the park. Jankov said perhaps it’s something the city can look at down the road.
Adams responded that he sees value in that, but the logistics just don’t work right now.
Mayor Philip Brown, who sits on all the standing committees, said while the bike lane normally opens May 1 the city is open to looking at opening it earlier in 2021. The city opened it in late March this year to take some of the pressure off the boardwalk. More people were using it than usual this past spring when public health restrictions forced most businesses to close.
Dave Stewart covers Charlottetown city council for The Guardian.