The idea is sound. The City of Charlottetown is examining the concept of a major corridor for cyclists that would connect the Confederation Trail at Joe Ghiz Park with Victoria Park. Getting from Point A to Point B is the problem.
It’s part of an ambitious plan to make the capital city more cyclist-friendly. The city wants people to be more active by promoting healthy living. The street deemed the most appropriate by a consultant’s report is Fitzroy, a one-way, east-west street connecting Kensington Road to the provincial buildings near Government House and Victoria Park.
It’s the shortest distance between the two primary destination points. It involves transforming Fitzroy Street into a year-round cycling corridor with buffered traffic where only cycling and pedestrians would be able to use the south lane. The obvious questions are: Is this the best route for both cyclists and motorists; the safest route; and the route that will be actually be used? If upwards of $1 million is going to be spent, then the answer to those questions better be yes.
The report argues that Fitzroy is the path of least resistance. But is it? Fitzroy is a major entry point into the downtown for motorists travelling from the east via St. Peters Road. Drivers exit off the arterial bypass onto Kensington Road, onto Fitzroy and thence into the heart of the downtown. It’s quick and simple.
Everyone is aware of the obstacles that cyclists will still have to face; crossing busy intersections at major north-south streets at Prince, Great George, Queen and Pownal before arriving at Rochford by the Shaw and Jones buildings.
Major changes in street traffic signals are needed to ease that journey. The smoother the journey for cyclists, the longer it will take motorists to pass through those key intersections. The prospect won't be warmly greeted by drivers who complain now about rush hour traffic getting into and out of the city.
It was surprising to see this plan declared a waste of time and money by Cycling P.E.I., which predicts the group will bear the blame for fewer, precious parking places. And the association suggests the corridor is going to be a nightmare for cyclists. It was not a ringing endorsement from a group targeted as the major beneficiaries of the corridor.
The city had just unveiled its cycling project when an urban planner presented the final proposal for the eastern gateway - with a new waterfront park at the Hillsborough Bridge and a major realignment of Water Street as the centerpieces.
If Water Street veers north to merge with Grafton near Joe Ghiz Park, doesn’t this offer a better option for cyclists to travel safely to Victoria Park? The key obstacle is crossing busy Grafton – across or under – and then it’s safely along the waterfront to Victoria Park. The route is safer, greener and more picturesque.
Creating a safe cycling and pedestrian lane from bridge to Victoria Park – with a short spur connecting to Joe Ghiz Park - should be achievable.