British Columbia

Kelowna's mayor proposes changes to 'unsafe' route after cycling it

A lengthy court battle between the school and residents on a private road means cyclists are having to go over a highway overpass.

Lengthy court battle results in cyclists having to go over highway overpass

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran in his biking gear during bike to work week in May. (Colin Basran)

On the morning of Nov. 5,  Kelowna mayor Colin Basran didn't start his day in meetings with staff or council.

Instead, he strapped on his helmet, got on his bicycle, and cycled a route to UBC Okanagan — which, because of a court battle that has made it illegal for cyclists to access a private road, involves riding a busy highway overpass.

Basran was invited to cycle the route and experience it for himself by a UBC Okanagan professor who has long advocated for a safer route to the campus.

"It's not safe. We had a large lumber truck roar by us, which fortunately for us, cooperated and changed lanes for us, because we had a big group," Basran said, describing the Highway 97 overpass.

"But this was a good day. What happens when it rains or is a little bit darker? So no, did I feel safe? No, I did not."

Legal challenges

In past years, those cycling to the university used an easement road — Curtis Road — to get to the school.

In 2013, a B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled that only faculty, staff and students who have classes or were employed in the health sciences or fine arts buildings could use the road, and only on days they had work or classes.

But the amount of people using the road didn't seem to decrease, and unhappy residents took the matter to court again.

As a result, taking the back-way route has been illegal for cyclists since earlier this year.

A new route?

Basran said the city may be able to build a road under the Highway 97 overpass, by extending Bulman Road to meet the old rail bed.

He said it's possible that road could be completed by next spring.

"There are a couple of different options there, that I would like to have the discussion with staff in regards to, and we'll see where it goes."


To hear the full interview listen to the audio: Kelowna mayor cycles highway overpass route to UBCO and proposes changes to make route safer.

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