Invest in Safety for Bike Riders on Hwy 19A from Fanny Bay to Royston
The Comox Valley is the land of outdoor activity. It is known for mountain biking but equally enjoyed by people on road bikes. One popular route is through the rural Comox Valley communities situated between Cook Creek Road and Royston Road, a 30 km stretch along Hwy 19A. With an investment in better cycling infrastructure, the Comox Valley could become a mid-Vancouver Island cycling destination.
Even now, many people cycle this route: local cycling clubs, tourists and residents. It is rare not to spot a person on a bike here. This section of Hwy 19A offers the only transportation route by car, bike, transit or foot through the adjacent ocean front residential nodes and contains the access point to both Denman and Hornby Islands. It is also an important link for the bicycle circle route between Nanaimo, the Comox Valley, Powell River and the Sunshine Coast. The route offers a unique rural community experience for both locals and the growing number of people seeking adventure by bike.
In my experience, the best side of Hwy 19A between Royston and Cook Creek Road is its diverse natural setting offering vistas of Baynes Sound, aromas of the sea, stretches of forest and occasional viewings of wildlife from both the forest and the sea. The friendly unique rural communities along the route provide sanctuaries of rest, food and hospitality. The overall terrain is comfortable, with undulating sections but nothing steep. It is a route ideal for cycle tourism and transportation by bike, or rather could be.
The negative side is the road itself. It has areas of neglect and inadequate shoulder widths. The posted traffic speeds vary between 60-80 kmh. Generally it denies a bike rider a safe space. The shoulder is often too narrow, some spots as narrow as 9 inches wide; the cars too fast, many very large, and frequently not moving over nor slowing down enough for a cyclist to feel safe; the upkeep of the road shoulder is poor including overgrown greenery, gravel, and cracked and angled pavement, many of the bridge decks are shared with highway speed traffic with no refuge for the bike rider and interspersed during a bike ride is often parked vehicles that essentially force the cyclist off the shoulder into a travel lane meant for larger and faster moving traffic.
My conclusion is this section of Hwy 19A does not consider public safety issues for people on bikes nor people on foot. The gold standard would be protected cycling and walking infrastructure, something, given my recent experiences, I am advocating for.
I believe improved cycling infrastructure on Hwy 19A in the Comox Valley would make the road safer for people on bikes. A likely outcome would be more residents cycling for transportation, and a marked rise in cyclotourism. The return on investment beyond the potential for saving a person’s life is the role cycling plays in climate action solutions, health care cost reduction, tourism and rural community economic growth.
Please email the Minister of Transportation and Highways, the Hon. Todd Stone to ask for investment for safer cycling infrastructure on Hwy 19A:
I call upon the Government of BC to enable everyone in BC to cycle & walk in safety as part of their daily lives by implementing an Active Transportation Strategy that includes:
- Investing $1 billion over the next ten years to:
- Upgrade cycling & walking facilities on provincial roads & bridges
- Complete cycling & walking networks in communities across BC
- Provide safe routes to school for children
- Build trails & routes for cycling & walking tourism
- Ensuring that paths & protected bike lanes can be safely shared by people using wheelchairs, skateboards & in-line skates
- Enhancing cycling education for children & adults
- Promoting cycling & walking
- Encouraging electric bike use by eliminating the PST & providing rebates