On Tuesday, city council approved a plan to remove around 40 signs and make other improvements to the first six blocks of the Lake to Lake Route, following feedback from the public and business owners.
The city plans to remove signs along the bike route that have been deemed redundant, which includes some signs that mark crossings and driveways.
“I think it’s twofold. I think one, drivers are finding it super busy and so it’s actually more distracting than helpful,” said the city’s infrastructure general manager Kristen Dixon.
“I think the magnitude of it was, if you follow kind of the strict guidelines around every crossing should be marked, but because of the frequency of the driveways and the crossings, it kind of led to that proliferation of signage that I don’t think anyone expected.”
This follows a call from the council to revisit the design of the bike lane in the downtown area, particularly along the Martin corridor.
According to the city, it will cost around $50,000 to remove the signs and make the other improvements. This is less, however, than the original staff recommendation, which had suggested a $200,000 overhaul and beautification of the bike lane.
“That is going to encompass the sign diet from right from Lakeshore to Eckhardt. So, we’re going to do the entire stretch,” said Dixon.
“There’s definitely less signage on some of the blocks — for example, the 400 block where there are no driveways, so there’s no signage. But we’re going to tackle that first stretch.”
Local business owner Jason Reynen, however, believes the price tag is too high. Reynen took to social media asking local business owners to volunteer their time and resources to help the city remove signs.
“It’s kind of one of those things that it spiralled out of control. I think the spending end of it for the city, and then the current council and mayor wanted to go back and change some of the things and I was just like, you know what, guys, we just got to quit hemorrhaging money,” said Penticton business owner Jason Reynen.
“I just figured, what better way to kind of get local businesses involved? Maybe cut some costs back, maybe see what we could do, and then work with the city to get permits to do it and then kind of go about it a different way.”
So far, Reynen says the response to his idea has been positive, and plans to have further conversations with council members.
“A lot of people were kind of surprised by it. A lot of people were like good luck it can be pretty tough to do anything… I had a couple of conversations with a couple of counselors, and they said you know what, we want to hear it if you’ve got a proposal, let’s put it together and see what you can do,” said Reynen.
“I had some people and businesses behind me, so far I have had probably five-six people reach out to me and whether they’re donating trucks or whether they’re donating something like as a lift to move some things, I’ve had quite a few steps up. So, it’s pretty cool to see that right off the bat and that.”
However, city officials say volunteers may not be able to participate in the project.
“It’s probably not a great avenue for those types of volunteer efforts,” said Dixon.
“However, I’m always open to any time that the community wants to volunteer, to get their hands dirty and help out. There’s lots of projects whether its parks clean up, adoptive spots and things like that, there’s lots of opportunities.”
Meanwhile, the other improvements include removing two driveways to parking lots that have alternate access routes.
The two parking lots include the Slackwater Brewing lot and the city parking lot on Martin Street.
“Then we’ll also be taking a look at other things that are kind of contributing to the clutter. There are the white bollards that are mounted on top of the metal brackets, we’ll take a look at the frequency of those and the spacing of those,” said Dixon.
“And then thirdly, we’ve heard some feedback around adding some bike racks and also improving accessibility by perhaps creating a few more gaps where we are seeing people wanting to cross to access businesses.”
Went on to say that as construction continues on the last stretch of the lake-to-lake bike route, this feedback will be taken into consideration with the final phases.
“As we head into the last phase and the phase that is currently under construction, we’re taking a look at not learning from our mistakes and try not to replicate that and certainly I will be looking for those opportunities with the last phase as well,” said Dixon.
The sign diet will begin either later this fall or early next spring depending on resource availability.