Vehicles shouldn't be the priority for Victoria road, community group says

The Greater Victoria Placemaking Network wants pedestrians, cyclists and mobility scooters — not cars — to be the priority on Dallas Road.

Group wants to create narrower lanes for cars to make room for walkers and cyclists

The Greater Victoria Placemaking Network wants to make crossing Dallas Road easier for pedestrians and people in mobility scooters. (Greater Victoria Placemaking Network )

Should Dallas Road be a multi-use pathway rather than an artery for vehicles? That's the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network's vision for the waterfront green space and road in Beacon Hill Park. 

The group has proposed redesigning the roadway to make pedestrians, cyclists and mobility scooters the priority.

"Essentially what we've done in the past, as a society, is paving paradise and putting up a parking lot," said Lorne Daniel, the vice-president of the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network.

Daniel sees this as an ideal time to come up with a new design because construction work for a wastewater treatment line is planned for the area. 

"And then when they put that back together, our proposal is that we take a fresh look at what really should be happening in the space and in this place."

Daniel would like to see narrower and slower lanes for cars on Dallas Road in order to make room for a protected bike lane and a path for pedestrians and mobility scooters.

"What we really have is a roadway design from the 1950s," said Daniel.

The Greater Victoria Placemaking Network says parking for buses and cars is taking up space that could be used for pedestrians, cyclists and mobility scooters. (Greater Victoria Placemaking Network)

He also believes Dallas Road is a barrier to park users who often don't know that Beacon Hill Park extends across the road to the waterfront.

"When you go to the top of Beacon Hill you see all these footpaths just in the dirt down toward the water, and all of those people are crossing Dallas Road at some point. And what we want to do is make a much slower and less intimidating roadway."

Daniel said his group has also heard from residents in neighbouring Fairfield who want better access to Beacon Hill Park. The local James Bay Neighbourhood Association also recently came up with a plan to redesign access to the area.

Coun. Jeremy Loveday said the proposal by the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network is a good place to start the conversation. 

 "I want to make sure that we are capitalizing on any opportunities there are," said Loveday.

The vice-president of the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network, Lorne Daniel, would like to see a pedestrian circuit route through Beacon Hill Park and along Dallas Road. (Khalil Akhtar/CBC)

"When we are digging up a roadway like Dallas Road or any other place where the conveyance structure is going, we want to make sure that we are making improvements there while the construction is happening." 

Loveday said he has already brought forward a motion in council to ask staff to start consulting the surrounding community about improvements to Dallas Road.

"Dallas Road is world class. It is one of the things that draws people to Victoria," he said.

"So we want to make sure that is accessible and enjoyable to all residents and visitors no matter how they get around."