Flashing lights with the warning “Cyclist on Bridge” have been installed above the traffic lanes at each end of the Nelson bridge.
The lights are electronically activated by the presence of a bicycle, allowing drivers to anticipate a cyclist on the bridge.
Bicycles crossing the Nelson bridge can be nerve-wracking for drivers and the cyclists themselves because is no room for bikes, either on the street or on the sidewalk.
Anna Lamb-Yorski of the West Kootenay Cycling Coalition thinks the lights are a step in the right direction.
“We’ve been meeting with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure over the last year and we have advocated for the best case scenario: separated bike lanes and a wider sidewalks for pedestrians, and signage and lighting.”
But the flashing lights is the best the group could get for the moment. She thinks many cyclists will still feel safer on the sidewalk, even though it’s tricky when a cyclist meets a pedestrian.
“That’s still the safe, comfortable option for them,” she says.
The bridge sits at one end of the City of Nelson’s new bike route, still under construction, which will allow cyclists – families on bikes, not just hardcore cyclists – to move between the bridge and the downtown area through a special route on Third Street and High Street.
Like Lamb-Yorski, Councillor Jesse Woodward thinks the lights are an improvement, but not a game-changer.
“This is just a practical way, and an economical way, of achieving further safety on a bridge,” he said. “Because of its age and the way it’s built, there aren’t too many options. So this is kind of one that worked.”