January 8, 2019 9:01 pm

‘The current infrastructure is failing’: Penticton cyclists call for improvements

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The Penticton and Area Cycling Association geared up to put pressure on city hall on Tuesday.

“It’s not a realistic transportation option for most in our community, to consider using their bike instead of driving, because, quite frankly, it is dangerous,” said cyclist Matthew Hopkins.

Hopkins is raising awareness of the issue on social media. He launched the “Bike Lanes Penticton” Instagram account to show the reality for riders on Penticton roads.

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One post shows bike lane markings worn away, just two months after they were painted on the road near the Penticton hospital tower expansion project. Another post shows garbage cans, parked cars and street signs obstructing the Government St. bike lane.

“Government Street as our main north-south route, it’s more of a bypass through the city in order to replace car trips. We want to be able to use our bikes in the middle of the city,” Hopkins said.

Cyclists are encouraging the city to invest in cycling infrastructure improvements.

“We heard from people about their experiences with being hit by cars, being cut off by cars, being sworn at by drivers, and I think it’s a big problem here,” cyclist Trisha Kaplan said.

The association said separated bike lanes, like the one on Power St., are the safest option for cyclists, pedestrians and motorists.

“We’re just as good as any other city our size,” said Penticton mayor John Vassilaki.

He added that enhancements would be considered during February’s budget deliberations.

“Whether it needs improvement or not depends on the needs of the community and what our budget says.”

The pair said it is ironic the city welcomes the world to high-profile cycling competitions in town, but neglects its own cyclists.

“Many people think of Penticton as being an athletic cycling town, but this is the other piece that needs to be looked at,” Kaplan said.

The city says it is riding into 2019 with transportation as one of its main priorities.

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