A local group believes Courtenay’s proposed 6th Street pedestrian/cycling bridge isn’t wide enough.
The city says the multi-use bridge would provide dedicated cycling and pedestrian connection between downtown and Simms Millennium Park as well as a connection to the future cycling network along 6th Street, Anderton Avenue, the Courtenay Riverway Trail, and the pathway connection to the Lewis Centre.
However, the Comox Valley Accessibility Committee says they’re concerned that the crossing is only four metres wide.
Committee member, Judy Norbury, points to the Active Transportation Design Guide.
She says that it recommends a minimum width of 4.8 metres for a multi-use pathway to enable pedestrians to have their own lane.
Norbury says it’s a matter of safety, adding that a bridge is different from a walking path such as the Courtenay Airpark.
“Say some cyclist is coming along fast on an electric bike because that can happen, too,” Norbury. “You can sort of step off the path if there is congestion but you can’t do that on a bridge that’s got railings (and) barriers. You pretty much have to be quite polite with everybody who is approaching.”
Norbury notes that more people are out walking, biking, skateboarding and using a variety of mobility devices to get around.
She added that with that in mind, the city should build the bridge with the future in mind.
She says things like scooters and electric wheelchairs, skateboards, and bicycles move faster, and are less manoeuvrable than pedestrians.
Norbury said city engineers have done a lot of comprehensive plans for the proposed bridge, and did factor into the cost of making the crossing wider.
“It’s something like another $800,000, $700,000 to make it to the five metres which is the one that we saw on their plan,” she said. “So that’s pretty much a cost thing, it’s not like they’re trying to be arbitrarily narrow.”
Norbury and the committee are hoping that council will re-visit their decision and recognize the potential for a bridge that will meet the needs of all users.
She also says the bridge cannot be widened after the fact.
In addition, the Downtown Courtenay Playbook notes an additional crossing at Sixth Street should be explored further.