The City of Penticton held an official opening of the first sections of the new lake-to-lake bike route on Sunday, Aug. 1, as dozens of cyclists gathered to mark the long-anticipated occasion.
The ambitious multi-million-dollar cycling corridor will connect Okanagan Lake to Skaha Lake and act as a spine in the city’s cycling network.
“There are a few things that cyclists need to be aware of to ensure the safety of riders and drivers when using the route,” said Anthony Haddad, the city’s general manager of community services.
“This dedicated event will provide cyclists with the opportunity to try the route out with the support of the local cycling community.”
The opening event began with a ribbon-cutting at 9 a.m. at the intersection of Lakeshore Drive and Martin Street.
Cyclists proceeded to ride the route to the end of the completed section at the library.
Cycling ambassadors were stationed at the intersections along the route to explain the new features, answer questions and provide support.
Cyclists can begin using the 100 to 500 blocks of the route on Martin Street, while the rest of the route is still under construction. The estimated cost of the full route is $8 million
“It’s really important that people are very aware, kind and patient as cyclists, pedestrians and drivers get used to this new cycling route,” said Penticton mayor John Vassilaki.
“With the construction of this route, Penticton has made significant progress towards the goal of a complete transportation approach and providing safe transportation options for all ages and abilities.”
The city’s new bike line didn’t come without controversy.
Some business owners along the route opposed disruptions that resulted from the construction, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, and feared that the loss of parking would threaten their viability further.
The Downtown Penticton Association said last fall that 600 people signed a petition against the proposed bike route.
“This isn’t the right time, this isn’t the right place,” said executive director Lynn Allin. “To hear that this is happening now is very disturbing to a lot of our members.”
Meanwhile, cycling enthusiasts said it was time the city switched gears to prioritize investment in active transportation.
Matt Hopkins, urban area director with the Penticton and Area Cycling Association, said he was “elated” at the news of the downtown route.
“Cycling is an inclusive transportation option,” he said. “People can do it — from small children to older adults.”
To learn more about the lake-to-lake cycling route, visit the city’s website.