Bike society requests highway upgrading between Powell River and Lund

Group asks for assistance from qathet Regional District

Cyclists from Lund have campaigned for improvement to Highway 101 to make the road safer and more accessible for people on bicycles, pedestrians and those using mobility scooters.

At the qathet Regional District (qRD) committee of the whole meeting on July 16, Charles Latimer, from the Lund Community Society Bike Lund Committee, appeared via videoconference to make requests by his organization for cycling improvements.

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Latimer outlined three of his organization’s programs. One is the Lund community bike fleet, involving a free fleet of 11 bikes that have been refurbished and are now available to the community.

He said the group also offers free bike tune-ups at community events, and also teaches people how to do it themselves.

There is also a new program called Spokes for qathet Folks. Latimer said a grant has been received from First Credit Union and Powell River and District United Way, where 20 to 25 bikes will be built by next year for low-income people in the region.

He said Bike Lund has been advocating for more cyclists and wants to do that through a number of ways. One of the big issues is around Highway 101 north of Powell River.

“The regional district has noted in the official community plan that Highway 101 can be an intimidating place for pedestrians, cyclists and scooters, and so to bring more attention to this issue, Bike Lund built an interactive map that tracks the state of the road from Lund to Powell River,” said Latimer. “We have seen improvements since last year but we still see that less than half of that road has shoulders that are adequate for cyclists, pedestrians or scooters.

“That’s one of the major issues we’ve been trying to get engagement on. The qathet Regional District transportation plan indicates a paved path from Lund to Saltery Bay.”

Latimer said Bike Lund has found a great deal of interest in this goal within the community but has not found any indication of steps being taken toward achieving it.

He said Bike Lund had several requests. The first was for the regional district to commit to a more ambitious timeline for improvement of Highway 101 north of Powell River, with a top priority connecting Tla’amin Nation to Powell River with a shoulder for safe mobility for cyclists, pedestrians and mobility scooters. The current timeline is 2040 in the transportation plan, said Latimer. That would mean another generation with unsafe road conditions, he added.

The second item is to write a letter to the minister of transportation, with copies to MLA Nicholas Simons and the ministry of transportation and infrastructure. The letter request is for urging the province to prioritize and set a more ambitious timeline for the upgrade of Highway 101 from Powell River to Lund, said Latimer.

He said Bike Lund would like the regional district to commission a feasibility study to explore the cost and potential route of a separated bike path from Saltery Bay to Lund.

The fourth request was to invite Bike Lund to participate in the regional transportation committee to better be able to communicate the needs of the active transportation community directly.

Latimer said last year, the province announced the creation of active transportation infrastructure grants, which support community and specific active transportation networks that are safe, accessible and convenient for all ages and abilities. He said Bike Lund has identified a number of expenditures covered by the grant that are aligned with the communities’ needs.

“The qathet Regional District did not apply for any grants in 2020 but has an opportunity to do so in the next round in 2021 and further move along the objectives in the transportation plan,” said Latimer.

He said Bike Lund would like to collaborate with the regional district to submit for provincial active transportation infrastructure grants in 2021 and for the regional district to consider supporting Bike Lund through the qRD financial assistance program when it applies for funding in the second intake in August.

Electoral Area A director Patrick Brabazon said with regard to the active transportation infrastructure grants, the board could possibly submit a grant. He added that as far as supporting Bike Lund through the regional district’s financial plan, that’s something Latimer should discuss with Brabazon.

Electoral Area C director Clay Brander said he has ridden to Lund many times. He said some of the sections are really nice, with wide shoulders, and other sections are reduced down to nothing.

Brander said the regional district could move on the request to send a letter to the minister of transportation, urging the province to prioritize and set a more ambitious timeline for upgrading Highway 10 from Powell River to Lund.

Committee chair and city director George Doubt said he had one concern, and he wanted to amend the motion to extend from Saltery Bay to Lund, rather than Powell River to Lund. The committee carried the amended motion.

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