Henderson Road bike lane or parking lane?

The Henderson Road bikes lanes, a half-baked solution to a real problem, is proving to be a bit of a headache. From 7am to 8pm on weekdays, cyclists have right of way on the side of Henderson Road. The rest of the time, cars have the right to park at the curb, while cyclists navigate a riskier trip weaving among cars.  Confused? So is everyone else.

This confusion became apparent to me on Thursday, when during two hours in the middle of the day I saw three vehicles parked in the bike lane.  Why are people parking in these bike lanes? Maybe they didn’t check their watch, or maybe the new by-law is too inconsistant to sink in. After all, Henderson Road has the only bike lanes in the city that aren’t always bike lanes.  What a lovely “made in Oak Bay” solution.

One ray of sunshine in this affair is the quick, professional way the Oak Bay Police department responded to my report. Within 20 minutes they had returned my call and informed me that the drivers had been spoken to and the cars moved.

Of course, that we have bike lanes on Henderson Road at all is due to the tireless work of Lesley Ewing and Safer Cycling Oak Bay. She collected more than 3000 signatures from Oak Bay residents by pounding the pavement and making calls, 3000 signatures that only got us half way. All this effort aftter council voted 4-3 against full bike lanes in 2007. What a difference one vote makes.

Isn’t it clear that half-way solutions aren’t enough? If we make it safer and less intimidating for people to get on a a bike, they might reach for a helmet rather than their car keys, saving their pocket book and tax dollars. What will it take for council to take biking seriously?