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Cycling along the eastern shores of Vancouver Island, B.C., between the North Island cities of Courtenay and Comox and the Southern Gulf Islands, is one of the most beautiful experiences a Canadian rider can have. Hugging the Island’s picturesque coastline along the stunning Inside Passage, the scenery is breathtaking, the ride itself almost meditative.

Now, to enshrine that experience for any cyclist who wants to have it, there’s a proposed bikeway for the region: the Inside Passage Bike Route.

The route, put forward by the BC Cycling Coalition, would be a thoroughfare for bike touring on Vancouver Island, connecting the communities of Comox, Courtenay, Qualicum Beach, Parksville, Ladysmith, Nanaimo, Chemainus, Duncan, Mill Bay and all points in between. In addition to those direct community links, it would also provide a connection for cyclists to several key B.C. Ferries routes, including those that service Hornby Island, Denman Island, Gabriola Island, Saltspring Island and Thetis Island.

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Organized under the BCCC’s umbrella as a joint project between the Comox Valley Cycling Coalition, the Oceanside Cycling Coalition and the Nanaimo Cycling Coalition, the objective—as stated by the Inside Passage Bike Route’s website—is to “establish a continuous trail for cycling along the beautiful eastern shore of Vancouver Island.”

Beyond providing a corridor through which cyclists can experience the sublime beauty of the British Columbia west coast, there are economic benefits as well, supporters say, an argument bolstered by the demonstrated success of other, similar bike routes in Canada. Principally, there’s tourism. Cyclists will be able to access amenities like the many hotels and restaurants that dot the east coast of Vancouver Island, as well as wineries and other tourist attractions. The efficacy of Quebec’s provincial cycling network, Route Verte, has demonstrated that such an approach can work, boosters say.

So where do things stand now?

The development of the Inside Passage Bike Route, with somewhat thematic appropriateness, is divided into stages. As of press time, the project is at the end of Stage 1, the part that involves mapping out the route and selecting its waypoints. Now it’s on to Stage 2, which will pinpoint the segments of the route in need of infrastructure upgrades, before Stage 3 brings signage and printed or digital maps of the route. Completion of the project involves the infusing of CAD $1 billion.

Supporters of the Inside Passage Bike Route can sign a petition calling for its implementation, and can share it on social media.


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  • monkeybits

    $1 billion? Seriously? For a single user facility? This shows just how far out of touch with reality the cyclist coalition is. There are so many other NEEDS of society in general that this money could help instead of this selfish WANT of a select few. Nice idea, but ridiculous that you think the general public should be contributing this outrageous amount for a special interest group.

    • Richard Campbell

      To clarify, while the cost of the Inside Passage Route has not been costed out, it won’t be close to $1 billion. The $1 billion investment over 10 years from the Province we are proposing is for cycling and walking routes all across BC. And, this investment would enable everyone in BC to walk and cycle for their daily trips as well as enable people in wheelchairs and other mobility devices to get around much more conveniently. You can find more details at: http://bccc.bc.ca/everyone

      • monkeybits

        In reality, you can never enable everyone to be able to walk or bike to work. Regardless of the infrastructure, who wants to get to work all sweaty and then sit in those clothes all day? Change facilities are still a rarity, and if you do have them, then you have to carry another set of clothes with you. And what about secure storage for bikes? That is still mostly non-existent as well.

        The $1 billion may be better put towards better and faster transit, something that would actually get more people out of cars.

        It is good to have dreams, though

        • Gisela

          In reality, not everyone will ever be able to drive to work every day either, but we have no problem paying for roads from the public purse. And to say that cycling infrastructure (like cycle paths) should not be built because of a lack of cycling infrastructure (like changerooms) is a wonky argument. I would agree that we should throw more money at transit though, but it needn’t be a choice between one or the other.

    • Gisela

      Decent cycling infrastructure is a great investment. Go visit a place
      where this has been done and see for yourself. Portland, OR is a great
      example of a place where cycling infrastructure is paying dividends in
      terms of health, reduced traffic congestion in car lanes, and increased
      tourism. And I don’t know why you refer to cyclists as a special interest group. Moms, dads, kids, people who exercise on the weekend, commuters on their way to work — even car drivers are cyclists on some days! We just need better infrastructure to allow them this safe and fun way to get around. It benefits all of us.

      • monkeybits

        Special Interest Group: a group that tries to influence the people who run a government in order to help a particular business, cause, industry, etc.

        Is that not exactly what this article is doing? promoting a project that is for the good of cyclists only? I don’t see any mention of walkers in the article.

        I guess if they are going to pay a toll or fee for use in order to help cover the costs, it could be a good idea. Not sure why the views should be reserved for cyclists. They belong to everyone.

        • Gisela

          It appears you missed my point. Cyclists are everyone and can be anyone on a given day. Why not subsidize cycling infrastructure the same we publicly subsidize roads? What’s the difference? Many people will never drive, but they help pay for infrastructure through their taxes anyway. People without kids still pay for schools through taxes. It’s what a democratic society does — provide for the common good.

          • monkeybits

            Didn’t miss the point at all, just have a problem with that large a sum of money spent on a very small minority when there are other more pressing needs. Many people may not drive, but the goods they need to survive (food, clothing) are likely delivered on roads by motorized vehicles. People without kids still used the school system themselves. Pedestrians are everyone, Cyclists are not everyone.

            I am a cyclist, been one for decades. Not every road needs to be all things for all users, there are plenty of alternative routes that could become bike ways instead of recreating the world, but cyclists generally don’t want to hear that. They want their way, and only their way.

            It’s been my observation that the millions of dollars our community has spent on bike lanes and “complete street” projects has not increased the number of cyclists, only created traffic disruptions and more greenhouse gases from idling cars.

            We have built it, they have not come.

          • Gisela

            You make some good points, but I’m still concerned that you’re talking about cyclists as if they were a homogenous, unified special interest group. Cyclists are also drivers, pedestrians, commuters — they are only cyclists while they are on their bikes. And what makes you think that this bike path wouldn’t be available to pedestrians, roller bladers, parents with strollers? Also, cycle tourism is booming in Quebec and areas in the US that have had the foresight to retain former railbeds etc to provide links between communities. BTW, I’m temporarily living in a community where they have built it, and they have come (Lund, Sweden). The core of the city is so full of bikes that cars are quite difficult to get around in. I’ve never cycled this much in my life (don’t even own a car anymore, actually), and it was only possible because I felt so super safe cycling here. Much of what has been done in Canada is “shared” space with cars — that simply doesn’t work. You need dedicated safe spaces for bikes if you want to bring up the volume of users. Have you been to Portland, OR? Another great example of building it and watching the cyclist numbers boom.

          • monkeybits

            Based on the experience with cyclists on mixed use paths in my city, I won’t go near them. I feel safer riding on the roads next to vehicles than dealing with the idiot cyclists on the paths. You take your life into your hands dealing with cyclists who think they are racing the French Grand Prix. Going way too fast for the road, giving no warning they are coming up behind you, riding in herds.

            The lobby groups don’t want to work with others, they just want everything done for them. Gives cyclists in general a bad name. The municipal governments aren’t much help, either. No cohesive plans, and really bad ideas, let’s just throw money at the bike lobby and to hell with the businesses and other groups who may be negatively impacted.

            When I lived in Calgary, they had a wonderful bike path/bike route system, you could ride from one end of the city to the other without battling traffic. Here, the routes are a real mishmash, poor signage, lack of connectivity. There has been millions of dollars spent putting in bike lanes and bike tracks that get very little use because there is no cohesive plan.

          • Richard Campbell

            Actually, it has. The number of bike trips by Vancouver residents has doubled since 2008 to 100,000 per day. And that does not include visitors and people who live outside of Vancouver and cycle in the city. The biggest increase has been over Burrard Bridge as a direct result of the protected lanes.

          • monkeybits

            That certainly is not the case on the Island. We have miles of bike lanes that do not see a bike for days on end.

            How many of the cyclists in Vancouver come from Burnaby? Or Surrey? Or Delta?

    • Chris Keam

      Based on BC’s current population (4.5 million) the $1 billion over ten years proposed for a province-wide improvement to cycling facilities works out to about $20 a year per person.

      • monkeybits

        and how many of those 4.5 million are actually cyclists? How many of the 4.5 million actually pay taxes that go towards the cost? How many will be paying for something they will never use? And what about the upkeep costs? How much of that $1 billion is goi g to end up I the big metropolitan areas and not the smaller towns and villages?

        • Gisela

          This “user pay” thing is neoliberal crap. We wouldn’t have schools, public healthcare, swimming pools, public libraries, universities, transit or even Canada Day fireworks if we expected users to pay the full cost. Sharing it across our society is what makes all of these things available and affordable. Not everyone is expected to use every service, but everyone uses some of the services, made affordable because we all share the costs. Works for me.

          • monkeybits

            Don’t see anywhere that paying full cost was mentioned, but if something is built for a specific user group, why would that group not expect to support it? Road tolls have been around forever, you pay to use public swimming pools and public parking lots and to ride the bus and attend university and visit museums and ride the ferry if you choose to visit or use those facilities.

            So why shouldn’t cyclists pay a portion of the upkeep costs for facilities that are only for their benefit?

          • monkeybits

            Good debate, by the way,I appreciate your opinions.

          • Gisela

            I guess we disagree on whether cyclists are a discrete user group in themselves, and whether they would be the only ones to benefit from this project. I think there’s an argument to be made that drivers would benefit as well (reduced congestion), although I know that isn’t true in all cases. Honestly, I would prefer to have less fees for recreational opportunities that promote healthy activity, like swimming pools and bike paths, not more. Anyways, thanks for the debate — it’s important stuff to talk about.

          • monkeybits

            I don’t disagree that healthy activities should be less expensive, it pays off in many ways in the future.

        • Richard Campbell

          Around 70% of people in BC cycle at least once a year and 40% cycle at least once a month. The majority of these people say they would cycle more when paths and lanes protected from traffic are created. Which is exactly what we are proposing.

          • monkeybits

            I just wonder how many of those people would actually cycle more when the rubber meets the road. It’s easy to say you are interested when answering a poll, but a different matter when it comes to reality.

  • Brian Brennan

    Late to this lively chat…I live wedged between what could possibly be part of the trail and the suspended E&N rail line along this proposed route…No question a bike line would be a grand addition to this area, but “a billion dollars”? This is wrong. I have been to public forms in Nanaimo to view the proposals for fixing a couple of Ks of the line thru the city and it is all insane…In Nanaimo, Public officials are tossing around truly big numbers and wish to make LUDICROUS and UNNECESSARY upgrades just to add a few bikes and riders. Although, it could be a Sisyphean task, the project would be better served by abandoning the E&N revival talk and putting a SENSIBLE bike trail on the rail bed…Oh and we should not talk of a bike trail, but a recreation trail…No pavement..Horses and folks welcome

  • Brian Brennan

    This is what we need on Vancouver Island E&N rail bed…At a fraction of the cost presently tossed about for cycle

    trail https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kettle_Valley_Rail_Trail