Victoria cyclists call for protected bike lanes after woman killed

Cyclists in Victoria say the city needs to make protected bike lanes a priority after a woman on a bike was struck and killed in the downtown.

Cycling advocates say city has fallen behind on cycling infrastructure that would improve safety

The intersection of Government Street and Fisgard Street in Victoria where a cylist died after she was hit by a delivery truck Tuesday morning. (Megan Thomas/CBC )

Cyclists in Victoria say the city needs to make protected bike lanes a priority after a woman on a bike was struck and killed in the downtown.

The 73-year-old was riding her bike along Government Street during the morning rush hour on Tuesday when she was struck by a delivery truck that was turning right onto Fisgard Street, Victoria Police said.

Edward Pullman, president of the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition, said it's a tragic example of how a protected bike lane may have saved a life.

"My heart really does go out because this accident, I believe, clearly could have been prevented through better design of our roads," he said.

Victoria is working towards better cycling infrastructure through a plan known as Biketoria. It calls for eight new bike corridors through the city — including Government Street where the fatality happened.

The Biketoria plan is focused on developing protected bicycle lanes, neighbourhood greenways, and off-street pathways for all ages and abilities.

But Pullman questions why the city is still in the planning phase.

"A city like Victoria which prides itself on being the cycling capital of Canada, quote unquote, has made no progress in the past 10 odd years that we have seen in other cities," he said.

Victoria city council is expected to vote on the Biketoria plan this spring. If it goes forward, the new protected bike routes could be in place by 2018.

'Fear factor' for cyclists

News of the woman's death left some who cycle in Victoria shaken and calling for safety improvements.

"There's a huge fear factor. It's a factor for many people who could be cyclists and they are not because it's dangerous," said cyclist Cordelia Horsburgh, who bikes regularly in the downtown.

"I think more needs to be done in terms of all ages and all abilities, and I am glad to see that the city council members and the mayor are working in that direction."

After passing by the scene of the crash, cyclist Adrian Gibbons said he hopes to see improvements, particularly on Government Street.

"It's more dangerous than average," he said. "Definitely, no question about it."

Victoria Police continue to investigate Tuesday's cycling death and said the driver of the delivery truck is cooperating with investigators.

Constable Matt Rutherford called on drivers and cyclists to take extra care following the tragedy.

"The weather is getting nicer. More cyclists are on the road. So we are just asking all drivers and cyclists to obey the rules of the road and look out for one another," he said.

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