Victoria's first protected bike lane is on track to officially open on May 1.

The bike lane is along Pandora Avenue from the 500 block near Wharf Street moving east and ending at Cook Street. It includes more than a kilometre of two-way, physically protected bike lanes with new traffic signals for bikes.

Fraser Work, the City of Victoria's director of engineering and public works, says the downtown location for Victoria's first protected bike lane makes the most sense.

"What we've seen from the research is the downtown ridership levels are some of the highest and also we have some of the densest traffic and complexity when it comes to sharing the road," he explained.

While Victoria has called itself a cycling capital, critics have said the city could use better cycling infrastructure and expanded bike lanes.

Work says the Pandora Avenue bike lane is just the beginning.

"Once we get that downtown core established, we'll be branching out to connect to the villages and we really want to have that connected network to make sure that riders can travel on these upgraded facilities from the different villages to the downtown and link to the different municipalities."

The city's future bike lane expansion plans include five more protected corridors and a cycling lane on the Johnson Street Bridge which will connect the downtown route to the popular Galloping Goose bike trail.

Pandora route map

The Pandora Avenue two-way protected bike lane. (City of Victoria)

Work say he hopes the new bike lane will help shift cycling culture in the city while balancing motorists' traffic concerns.

"Everybody needs to be aware and we need to help everybody understand how some of these changes affect the  different users — the motorists, the cyclists, and the pedestrians," he said.

"We don't impose an undesirable change to the vehicle commute times. We want to balance that all effectively. The aim is to see if everything is within reason and we'll get some people into the bike lanes that were previously in cars. Things start to improve for everybody."

For more information on how to use the protected bike lane, visit the City of Victoria website. There is an official opening event being planned for May 14.

With files from On The Island