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Project proponents would like bike lanes from 108 to Interlakes

Looking for support for South Cariboo cycling plan
Greg Atherton rides his bike along Highway 24. (Photo submitted)

A dedicated bike lane from 108 Mile Ranch into 100 Mile, down the twisting length of Horse Lake Road, and out along Highway 24 to the Interlakes area. That’s the dream.

Proponents of one of two bike lane proposals in the works have taken the idea to the Cariboo Regional District board seeking some early signs of support for making the South Cariboo a bike-friendly - or just bike-feasible - community. Right now, it is far from it, say Lac des Roches area residents Glen Clark and Greg Atherton.

Atherton told CRD members there are several benefits to take into account when deciding on the viability of building bike lanes, including health, environment and tourism.

“I do ride my bike on the highway but I’ve been doing it for many, many years. I used to live in Quesnel and I used to drive on the highway there so I’m comfortable riding on the highway but there is no one else around that’s riding bikes,” he said.

Highway 24 is treacherous just to walk along, Clark added.

“The shoulder is 18 inches, and nothing but logging trucks and big equipment running up and down the road all the time,” he said. “It seems sad to live in one of the most beautiful places in the world and you can’t go anywhere.”

Eric de Vries, Area L Director for the CRD, was enthusiastic at a recent district board meeting at Interlakes.

A significant number of vehicles with bikes strapped to them travel along the highway during the summer and Atherton would like to see more of them stop for a pedal.

While neither project is an initiative of the CRD, Area G Director Al Richmond and de Vries support the idea, though de Vries acknowledges the challenges ahead. It may be a struggle to get the Ministery of Transportation and Infrastructure on board, as well as a struggle for these volunteer groups to find support and funding, he said.

“I see my role as a director as just in supporting this initiative. I think it’s good for our tourism economically. We’re trying to get the connection with the 108 initiative as they also want to have a bike lane to 100 Mile,” said de Vries. “If we join forces, then we could have a bike lane from 108 to 100 Mile then 100 Mile to Horse Lake Road towards Highway 24. Then we could continue on Highway 24 and connect all the resorts with this bike lane. This would be a major tourism boost, I think.”

The Transportation Ministry owns the right-of-way along the sides of Highway 24, Horse Lake Road and Highway 97, so neither project can go ahead without its permission to proceed.

“We had a map done up some years ago from 108 into 100 Mile,” said Richmond. “At the same time, we engaged the ministry in that discussion. So they’re aware of our wish to do this, certainly, the active transportation piece that the ministry says is available for grants we intend to pursue. We just have to decide collectively who is going to apply for it so we can do detailed studies. It’s all got to be engineered at some point.”

He pointed out that so far there has not been a lot of mapping done in the Interlakes region.

At the last meeting with MOTI they were receptive and said it was a great idea, said Clark.

And Atherton added that if they can get approval from the regional director for the ministry, then they can start fundraising in order to hire a trail planner. There are existing sections of the old highway that would be perfect to incorporate into the lane while other sections would require a route to be planned around.

The key is to take it one section at a time, Richmond suggested.

“I think if we can build one section then it becomes easier to build the next section,” he said. “This is just one of the challenges involved including getting approval, securing funding, deciding who would maintain the trails and who would be liable for the trails.”