Q&A - Cycle Lane Confusion in Kelowna

Cycle Lane MarkingThe City of Kelowna has a roundabout at the corner of Burtch Road and Guisachan Road that has been designed it in a way that forces cyclists onto the sidewalk.  I regularly walk in the area and am always hearing "On your left" or "On your right" from cyclists that expect me to get out of their way. As far as I am concerned I have no legal obligation to move or relinquish the sidewalk to satisfy the cyclists.  I do believe they have a legal obligation to yield to me - even if they are forced to dismount and push their bike.

I believe the City has overridden the Motor Vehicle Act by forcing bikes to be on sidewalks.  Am I wrong in this thinking, or does the City actually have the authority to override the MVA?  If this arrangement is legal then what are the obligations of the cyclist and the pedestrian? There is no signage to indicate that the sidewalk is shared and nothing to indicate what the protocol is when a bike/pedestrian conflict occurs.

Some may think my complaint is petty and not worthy of discussion.  I strongly disagree.  I am at an age where I don't move as well as I once did and I don't hear as well as I once did.  I certainly don't recover from trauma as well as I once did.  Being hit by a bike would be life changing - to the point of forcing me to no longer live in my own home.  Many of the residents in this area are elderly people that should be able to safely walk on sidewalks without fear of a bike collision.  The current situation is dangerous.



In the defence of the City of Kelowna, engineering streets to do more than cater to drivers is still in development and new standards are being created.

A short bit of background:

  1. The Motor Vehicle Act (MVA) sets out the law governing the use of a highway in British Columbia.
  2. Section 183 (2) specifies how cyclists interact with crosswalks and sidewalks.
  3. Section 124 grants a municipality the authority to create additional rules as long as it does not contradict the MVA.
  4. The City of Kelowna has created a bylaw that requires a cyclist to use a cycle lane if one has been provided and permits the use of the sidewalk by children under the age of 12 or by all riders when permitted by a sign.

The design used to create this roundabout appears to be one generally used for a multi-laned roundabout.

What is missing here are the required indications that cyclists are permitted to use the sidewalk and crosswalk as intended by the design.

Your complaint is a common one, and I've addressed the topic of what side to ride or walk on already. One observation that I'll make is that when we walk, we appear to follow the same convention that we do when we drive, ie: on the right hand side. This is not correct and causes conflict where cyclists and pedestrians share space.

It also appears that this intersection is a work in progress. Some of it has been finished and some will be as development in the area takes place.

The use of a diamond and cycle symbol is the preferred method of marking a cycle lane. This should remove any doubt about who it is intended for and that drivers should not stop in it. This lane might benefit from more frequent marking.


Cycle Lane Question

The use of a diamond and cycle symbol is the preferred method of marking a cycle lane. This should remove any doubt about who it is intended for and that drivers should not stop in it.

What difference does it make then, if the bicycle lane itself is painted green? 

Green Paint

Green signifies cycle infrastructure but has no legal meaning.

Green Paint

They will use the green paint to help people recognize the "conflict zones" where road users need to be a bit more careful with regards to other modes of traffic. 

Dealing with cyclists

If you hear "on your left" or "on your right" the best way to handle it is to hold your position, not move either direction. Unless you are centred and there isn't enough room to pass safely then the message should change. The worst thing for everyone is choosing the wrong direction and getting tangled up.

Yes, some of the roundabouts in Kelowna do seem to direct the cyclist onto the sidewalk and I disagree with this, but for most people they'll opt to mix with pedestrians before they merge with 2-ton metal behemoths. I'd hope that people on bikes would remember that people on foot take precedence so they'd slow down to a good speed on the sidewalk, but I know that's not always the case.



Whatever the law is immaterial, where or when re sidewalks or pathways- It is important that cyclists acvise pedestrians of the fact they re coming, and if on your right or left is heard as advised, STAY, and if just a bell or other warning, keep to the right. WhAt is really bad is when a cyclist gives NO warning and scares teh $^*( out of you, and in some cases a swing of a walking sticxk from the szurprized person could be a disaster for all- We need to be courteous.

Walk on

 In the West Kootenay we have several Ferries, some ropeway Ferries. The Ropeway at Harrop this a.m. was a departure from the norm.  A Cyclist is not allowed to pedal from concrete roadway apron(downramp), up and on to the barge, but must dismount and walk. 

 This is incongruous as it has never been the like before. I reckon a bad example, (a group ride?) prompted the contractor to broadly paint a new rule. By the way, these Ferries are operated by a contractor group, which makes me ponder the automonous change to boarding.

Cyclists will attest to the difficulty of walking anywhere in their specialized hard plastic soles, much less up a polished steel ramp. Add water or oil to that and somebody goes down. The cycling shoe isn't meant to be walked in. An experienced cyclist will feel a lot more comfortable in the saddle with rubber on the road, than walking. Not only that, once we have boarded, have a slotted space we park in, out of the way of the heavy wheelers; and wait there until the traffic has cleared before disembarking. 

So here's the rub: cyclists play by the same rules as any vehicular traffic. One doesn't see a motorcycle walking on, nor laughably a car. Boarding traffic slows down (morally correct). With a walking cyclist and a vehicle approaching from behind, being directed to a lane, there is a double consideration here. That is, it is nerve wracking to have a vehicle approaching from behind when footing for the cyclist is dodgey; plus how much attention of the vehicle operator is directed at the potential hazard, while watching waving-directing arms of the Deckhand, particularly when the vehicle is towing? Operators tend to be watching their trailer hitch and attenuate behind-left to steel scraping on concrete, the sound of trailer or motorhome bottoming out and not ahead or side-right.

 It would be best, as I see it from a safety point, to board after the car/truck traffic has done so; roll on. What we do. When we ride, we have Gyroscopic precession going for us. Not so keeping us upright when we walk; at least not this old athlete. On the other side, roll off, after the traffic. What we do. Pedalling up the ramp is safer than starting off uphill. 

UBC too

The roundabout at W 16th Ave and Wesbrook Mall in the University Endowment Lands,  https://goo.gl/maps/GwiMFMzWUcB2q4Ba7 , has a better design in my opinion (wider sidewalks and better bike lanes and ramps).  I don't like the one at Main Mall as much, https://goo.gl/maps/GxUGSgdXmeuqXzGc9 .  The following brochure about these says cyclists are allowed to stay on the road or dismount to use the sidewalk and crosswalk, https://utown.ubc.ca/sites/utown.ubc.ca/files/attachments/86132_WnR-Roundabout-BrochureProof_0.pdf

ICBC suggests cyclists can ride (slowly) on "pathways" with pedestrians, but must dismount for the crosswalk at https://www.icbc.com/road-safety/driving-tips/Pages/How-to-use-roundabout.aspx and https://www.icbc.com/road-safety/driving-tips/Documents/Roundabout-information-guide.pdf

This website shows a shared path sign and a crosswalk sign (that suggests cyclists allowed to ride on the crosswalk), but the text says cyclists should walk in the crosswalk,  https://www.tranbc.ca/2020/07/02/how-to-safely-use-roundabouts-in-bc/

When I am cycling on a shared path and I have room to pass (a pedestrian or another cyclist) I will warn them that I am passing by telling them which side I will do so, if there is not enough room I will say "excuse me" and wait until there is enough room. 

Elephants Feet


Very illustrative post thank you. The TranBC example shows a shared pathway as you pointed out but it looks an awful lot like a sidewalk to me. Nevertheless signage prevails so we can treat it as such and not dismount until we enter the crosswalk. Statute dictates that we must dismount to use a "pedestrian crosswalk". Hey it's called that for a reason. There is one exception. If the crosswalk markings are flanked by a dashed line (not present in this case) then we can ride through the crosswalk giving all due care and consideration to pedestrians' right of way. This is referred to as "Elephants Feet". Not sure of the derivation but I'm pretty sure elephant hooves are not rectangular. I would encourage drivers and cyclists alike to familiarize yourselves with this infrastructure as it is not yet common knowledge.


Magic bike lanes

Stephen C not only spells his name correctly but he also conducts thorough and accurate research. In this example I do not see signage advising cyclists to use the sidewalk therefore I see no reason to exit the roadway. I would shoulder check then merge into the que and proceed through the roundabout as a vehicle. My alternative is to use the crosswalk as a pedestrian by dismounting. No different than other types of intersections. 

Clearly the issue is that the restricted use bike lane "disappears" and morphs into a sidewalk. Bad bit of engineering but not uncommon. It would help to have signage posted to "share the lane" or "alternate" between road users or at least a "sharrow" as a road marking.

Paul Stephen Janzen


Excuse me?

Here's an odd thing - my name is Paul, but my brother's name is Stephen. We also excel in speling.


In this example I do not see signage advising cyclists to use the sidewalk therefore I see no reason to exit the roadway.

Yes but seriously, why do you think they spent thousands of dollars constructing that carefully sloped extra piece of concrete (along with the long solid white line marking the outer edge of the cycle lane) that guides cyclists onto the sidewalk? I mean, seriously? I'm quite sure it wasn't designed to allow wheelchair users to leave the sidewalk and enter the cycle lane, eh?

But it does create an obvious potential conflict between pedestrians and cyclists, especially older folks pushing a walker along the path and younger folks rocketing by on two wheels.

The easiest, and cheapest way that the city could correct this would be to erect clear signs that direct cyclists to dismount in that section, thus becoming pedestrians on the sidewalk. It works in sections of the Stanley Park seawall (a park which strongly favours cyclists for the most part) so there's no reason why it couldn't work in this situation.


Not jest speling Paul I'm like real good at gramma too! Irregardless; it may indeed be for wheelchair users to enter the cycle lane. How do I know without the city spending the extra 50 bucks for signage? If we refer back to the o.p. - seniors feel threatened by that mix of traffic on a sidewalk that was built for their safe passage. I'm not buying cyclists' compliance with an appeal to dismount. It works in Stanley park because of peer pressure (or is it pier pressure?). Not many cyclists are as conscientious as Stephen and me.

Thanks for that!

It gave me a laugh!

The odd thing with that there roundabout, is the inconsistency of the rampage, and signage, and like that. Perhaps because one of the roads is a dead end (what the realtors call a cul-de-sac), so nobody ever rides a bicycle out of there? 

As an old guy, I just keep wondering about the wisdom of imposing cycle lanes onto an existing road structure, often along major arteries. It's quite different from places like Amsterdam, Beijing, or Copenhagen, where the massive use of bicycles has been part of the the city structure, the movement of people, for decades.

Can't make everyone happy

Actually the cul-de-sac (Burtch continuing south) is used by cyclists quite a bit, at the end it connects to trails that either go to a nice nature trail around Munson Pond or goes to KLO. The inconsistency is mainly due to ALR on the east side of Burtch.

As for imposing cycling lanes onto existing roadways, we either have to spend the money to rip it all up and do it right or we go the cheap route (usually the choice of many taxpayers who don't bike) and just slap some white paint on there and expect people to play nice. The only way we'll get more people using bicycles is to make safer infrastructure, we're just realizing now what people in Europe figured out decades ago, space is finite.

Amster Amster Dam Dam Dam

Paul & Stephen: to be fair the municipalities are struggling with cycling infrastructure as standards are still emerging. As our moderator pointed out green paint is used as a cautionary warning but is not mentioned in our MVA. In fact one municipality near me used blue paint for the same purpose. When questioned it was learned that engineering had extra blue so...

I cannot wait to visit these places you mentioned but without first hand knowledge I suspect there is a core difference and it's a culture that respects cyclists. Until we have masses of COMPOTENT cyclists and COOPERATIVE motorists like they do; however, all the infrastructure spending in the world won't help. Cycling education is the answer.

Don't forget about the drivers

I agree that riding bikes is not as easy as riding a bike. But don't forget that people driving cars need ediucation too so that they can interact safely too. North America has bought into the idea that the only real mode of transportation is a car and with that we've let everything else wither. Once we can change our attitudes then it won't be just a small 2% who take the time to learn how to do things right with whatever the munipalities come up with for infrastructure.

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