Table of Contents
- Regional Trails
- Bike Lanes & Routes
- Arterial roads and Cross roads
- Long Routes
Greater Victoria occupies the southern tip of Vancouver Island, including the Saanich Peninsula. The Salish Sea or Strait of Juan de Fuca surrounds the southern tip of Vancouver Island. The coast is indented with harbours, bays and lagoons including Victoria Harbour and Esquimalt Harbour.
The City of Victoria, the District of Oak Bay, and the District of Saanich are east and north of Victoria Harbour and the Gorge, a long tidal feature extending Victoria Harbour westward. The Township of Esquimalt and Victoria West (part of the City of Victoria) are on a peninsula west of Victoria Harbour. The Esquimalt area is bounded on the north and east by the Gorge and Victoria Harbour, and the west by Esquimalt Harbour. There are bridges across the Gorge at Tillicum and Admirals Road, permitting an exit to the north east into Saanich.
The Town of View Royal, the City of Langford, the District of Metchosin, and the City of Colwood are south and west of Victoria and Esquimalt. The District of Sooke is further west and south.
The District of Central Saanich, the Town of Sidney and the District of North Saanich are on the Saanich Peninsula.
The Island Highway start at the west end of Craigflower at Admirals Road, runs generally SE to NW in View Royal and Langford, and then turns and heads SW to Colwood. (Some street signs and maps identify the Island Highway as the Old Island Highway. It is the Island Highway as far south as the intersection of Wale Road, near Royal Roads University in Colwood. That is also the point where the Island Highway becomes Sooke Road.)
The Johnson Street Bridge (the iconic 1923 Blue Bridge, replaced in 2018) is at the north end of the Inner Harbour. The new bridge (“the Bridge”) is at the west ends of Pandora Street and Johnson Street in Victoria. It’s adraw bridge raised for maritime traffic between the Inner Harbour and the Upper Harbour. It crosses the harbour from Victoria in the east to the Esquimalt peninsula, and connects to Esquimalt Road on the west side of the harbour. The 2018 bridge has wide cycling lanes marked outside the vehicle lanes, and a multipurpose span for pedestrians and cyclists north of the vehicular span. The multipurpose span has an overpass at the west (Esquimalt Road) end that crosses over the vehicular lanes connecting the multipurpose span, the Galloping Goose trail and the end of the E&N Regional trail. With the completion of the bridge replacement, it is possible to:
- cross the Bridge in a bike lane and proceed in the bike lane along Esquimalt Road;
- cross the Bridge on the multipurpose span, cross Esquimalt Road on the overpass, follow Kimta Road to Catherine Street and get onto Esquimalt Road to reach the north end of the developed part of the E&N trail across Vic West and Esquimalt;
- Harbour and ride on the Galloping Goose trail.
After crossing the Bridge, cyclists can proceed through Victoria West and Esquimalt. There are two main cycling choices after the Bridge, involving Regional Trails managed by the Capital Regional District (“CRD”). (Victoria is the capital city of the province of British Columbia; the CRD is municipal agency that serves a group of municipal bodies.) One involves the Esquimalt part of the E&N trail or other routes through Vic West and Esquimalt to the West Shore area. The other is the Galloping Goose to the Switch Bridge, where a rider can take either the Galloping Goose Regional west Trail or the Lochside Regional Trail north. The Goose goes out to the West Shore area. The Lochside Trail goes, ultimately, to the BC Ferry terminal at Swartz Bay and other places at the north end of the Saanich Peninsula.
Safety & Etiquette
Three CRD Regional Trails are marked routes for cycling, paved in some areas. These CRD Regional Trails – Galloping Goose, Lochside, E&N – have web pages, maps and brochures. The brochures are somewhat outdated. The CRD rearranges its Web services from time to time.
These trails are shared with roller-bladers, skate-boarders, pedestrians, motorized scooters, wheelchairs, mobility aids, horses and dogs. The Lochside trail follows public roads used by motor vehicles for long distances. The trails cross or intersect roads used by motor vehicles. Some crossing are bridges or overpasses. A couple are in tunnels. Some intersections have stop signs for cyclists. A few intersections have stop signs or traffic lights for motorists.
Most bridges for cyclist are wooden, and have a washboard feel.
The Regional Trails are wide enough to allow safe single file traffic in each direction. Pedestrians mainly stay on the right. Generally pedestian do not travel in single file. Cyclists often ride side by side with the rider on the left straddling the line or even riding in the oncoming lane. The trails are too narrow for pace lines and echelons. But people …
Galloping Goose Trail
This Trail (or see the Wikipedia page) is named for a historical rail line from Victoria to Sooke. There are no tracks; the railway was decommissioned (the date is not mentioned in the CRD resources. The trail is on the track bed with a few adjustments. The right of way is held by the Canadian National Railway, which has granted the CRD the right to use the land as a trail. The CRD maintains the trail. The trail has posts with blue metal signs with a Galloping Goose logo (a stylized rail car) at 1 Km. intervals. There is CRD web page and trail brochure. The brochure has maps showing the location of the distance signs or posts.
There are water stations along the Galloping Goose:
- at the Switch Bridge near the post marked 4 Km;
- at the Atkins Rest stop near the BC Transit Park and Ride Lot along the Island Highway between the posts marked 10 and 11 Km. (i.e. east of Six Mile Road in the combined Goose E&N section. There is a concrete brick muncipal pit privy here;
- at Royal Roads University where the trail crosses the Island Highway, west of the post marked 14 Km.;
- where the trail crosses Marwood at the Luxton Fairground, east of the post marked 19 Km.
This trail starts at the east (Victoria City) side of the Bridge, follows Harbour Road on the west shore of the middle harbour and becomes a paved trail at the west end of Harbour Road, where Harbour intersects with Tyee, at the Regional District bike barometer counter. (at the 1 Km. sign). There are few interruptions in the first 10 km of the trail.
It runs on the west (Vic West) shore of the Harbour to the Selkirk Trestle, and crosses the Trestle (The 2 Km. sign is on the Trestle near the north end), and runs northward west of Douglas Street, The trail passes under Gorge Road and Burnside Road East in underpasses. It passes behind the commercial properties along the west side of Douglas as as far north as Mayfair. There are some road crossings. Cyclist have caution signs. Vehicles crossing the trail have stop signs. It crosses over Douglas Street to the east side of Douglas on the Switch Bridge (the 4 Km. post is at the north end of the Switch Bridge). At the north end of the Switch Bridge, it forks into the Lochside and Galloping Goose trails.
The Galloping Goose follows Douglas Street, on the east side, northward to the Island Highway, with few interruptions. The road crossing at Tillicum Road requires a stop for a level crossing with traffic signals. The trail crosses over Interurban Road/Burnside Road W. on a wooden bridge. There is a concrete bridge for cyclists and pedestrians over McKenzie (as of April 2018). The trail crosses under Helmcken Avenue, near the Victoria General Hospital in two culvert tunnels west of the post marked 8 Km. Near the 10 Km. post, the trail runs along the long exit ramp from Highway 1 to the Island Highway for a few hundred meters. The trail, like the Island Highway exit ramp, passes under Highway 1 in an interchange structure. The trail follows the Island Highway south and west. The E&N Trail crosses Highway 1 and the Island Highway in the interchange. This takes the trail across the NW corner of View Royal.
The trails become a common or shared trail for the next 3 Km. (i.e. almost to Wale Road, near the 13 Km. Galloping Goose post). The trail in this area is signed as part of both trail systems. The common section may show on maps as the Galloping Goose, the Trans-Canada trail or part of the E&N trail. The common trail goes as far south as a short trail forking away from the Goose just east of Millstream Creek. The short trail connects to the E&N Trail, along the tracks along Atkins Road in Langford, within 200 m. north of the 13 Km. Galloping Goose post at the intersection of Wilfert and Wale Road in Colwood.
View Royal, Colwood, Langford
The Galloping Goose trail follows the Island Highway west. The trail, after crossing a corner of View Royal and a corner of Langford, and enters Colwood where the trail crosses Millsteam Creek. The trail crosses Atkins Road (and Chilco) in View Royal just west of the wooden bridge over Six Mile Road and the post marked 11 Km. The trail crosses Atkins Road again, just west of the post marked 12 Km, and the Langford/View Royal boundary. TThe trail Millsteam the creek a few hundred meters north of Wale Road. The trail is paved as far west and south as the 13 KM. post on the north side of Wale Road. The trail become tangled in Colwood and Langford.
A rider has to cross Wilfert and Wale Road in Colwood to stay on the trail. There are crosswalks to stop traffic. A rider should expect to stop and activate the crossing lights to cross Wale Road. The trail physically continues on the south side of Wale Road, and goes directly to Island Highway/Sooke Road in Colwood. But there is no crossing of the Island Highway there!
Since 2012 (actually ever since Wale Road was paved from Goldstream through to the Island Highway/Sooke Road), it has been necessary to cross Wale Road, and use the bike lane on the south side of Wale Road, and cross the Island Highway/Sooke Road at the intersection of Wale Road, the Island Highway and Ocean Boulevard when the traffic lights change. The Galloping Goose trail picks up on the east side of the Island Highway, goes uphill, first south, then swings west, past the 14 Km post, and crosses the Island Highway/Sooke Road again at Royal Roads University. The trail proceeds west through Colwood as a gravel trail.
The trail crosses the boundary into Langford near the16 Km. post, near the intersection of the trail with Kelly Road and Veterans Memorial. The trail across Langford is more risky and less convenient. Langford planners and politicians have built roads and infrastructure across the trail. There are three main challenges for cyclists:
- Crossing Veterans Memorial and Kelly at the SW corner of the Westshore Town Centre mall in Langford is an event. It can require waiting out traffic lights and crossing each road the separately, or riding on the roads in the bike lanes and navigating onto a side street that crosses the trail.
- Crossing Jacklin Road, which runs north and south on the west side of the Westshore Town Centre mall, requires a dismount, a crossing signal, and some manouering. The crossing is not aligned to the trail.
- The gravel trail goes west past the south end Glen Lake, and effectively ends at Sooke Road near the 18 Km. post, requiring a rider to cross Glen Lake Road and Sooke Road and find the trail south and west.
I have avoided the gravel trail in Colwood by staying on Aldeane after crossing the Island Highway at Royal Roads, and riding through a residential area in Colwood. Aldeanes end at Hagel. A rider can go south on Hagel about 200 metres and rejoin the trail, but will encounter the Langford obstacles. A rider can go north on Hagel and reach Veterans Memorial. There is a traffic light controlling traffic on Veterans Memorial and a street on the opposite side, Meaford. This intersectioon is. north of the Westshore Town Centre mall. I have crossed Veterans Memorial, and followed Meaford, Station Avenue and Dunford in an industrial area in Langford to the Westhills Arena and Starlight Stadium near Langford Lake, and then gone up Glen Lake Road.
It also makes sense to take Aldeane ride Veterans Memorial south from the traffic, in the bike lane to the Westshore Town Centre mall and find a way to the place where Glen Lake Road crosses Sooke Road.
There is a fairly simple route from Starlight/Westhills past the Westshore Town Centre mall going east. From the playground beside the statium on Glen Lake Road, East on Glen Lake to Jenkins, east on Jenkins, cross Jacklin, proceed on Kellu in the bike lanes to Veterans Memorial. It requires riding in the bike lanes in traffic.
The trail crosses the Glen Lake Road (reconfigured and rebuilt 2020-2022) and Sooke Road (again). At this point the Sooke Road is provincial highway 14, a rural highway passing out of the suburbs of Langford, a route to Sooke, the Sooke basin and the Pacific Coast. The only safe place along the Galloping Goose trail to cross Sooke Road is near the firehall at the south (Sooke Road) end of Happy Valley Road. Riders can take the bike lane along the west/south end of the Glen Lake Road to reach the controlled (traffic lights) intersection where Glen Lake Road intersects the Sooke Road, and the Happy Valley Road starts.
Langford, Metchosin, Sooke
The trail goes south, parallel to Happy Valley Road for a few Km. The first Km. of gravel trail runs parallel to Happy Valley Road west of Happy Valley Road along the East edge of the Luxton fairground. It is simpler to cross Sooke Road and go south on Happy Valley Road in the bike lane to Marwood, turn east,and get onto the trail at the fairground. Another option is to proceed on Marwood to Luxton. Luxton has been repaved (as of 2021-22), providing a rare stretch of good, smooth asphalt. Luxton runs south for about 1 Km. and then turns west, crossing the trail at South Vancouver Island Rangers land, at the 20 Km. post.
This section of the trail is gravel. It crosses several roads in the West Shore communities, requiring slowing down or stopping and crossing with traffic signals. The traffic on the trail faces stop signs. Some crossings have intermittent heavy traffic. Some have crossing signs activated by switches.
After crossings of Happy Valley Road (Langford, near the 21 Km. post, and Metchosin south of the 22 Km. post) and Rocky Point Road (near the 25 Km. post) it has long stretches without road crossings. It is good gravel. The trail is reasonably shaded and sheltered from wind.
For rides to more distant locations (e.g. out to Matheson Lake or the Sooke Basin or beyond) parking at the Juan de Fuca Recreation Center, or in a lot in Colwood opposite Royal Roads on the Island Highway are options.
Lochside Regional Trail
The Lochside Trail begins at the Switch Bridge over Douglas Stree,t as a fork of the Galloping Goose. It runs north and east toward Mount Douglas. It follows Lochside Drive in Saanich. There are sections of paved cycling trail, gravel trail and paved road shared with motor vehicles. The trail has signs, marked with distance. The post at the Switch Bridge over Douglas Street is marked as 4 Km. – the Switch Bridge is at the 4 Km. Galloping Gooseposy. The post is on the north side of Douglas Street, on the east side of the trail, at the base of the Switch Bridge
(I have referred to the Switch Bridge as the Swingbridge in many log entries. It is mistake. Text in Tablepress tables cannot be edited by a “replace all” command, and I have not tried to find and edit all the errors).
The trail seems to end in Sidney, but can be followed to BC Ferry terminal at Deep Cove. The CRD publishes a web page and brochure. The brochure says there was a rail line or street car from Saanich to Deep Cove in the early 20th century.
The signs along the Lochside trail are at 1 Km. intervals, and measure distance from Switch Bridge. The signs are on the east side of the trail (except a few on west noted”*”). The signs face both directions, and read the same each way. They may be on posts, or bolted to light standards, traffic signs, or street signs. These distances are rough, on the basis of GPS readings while riding:
|1||Paved trail||Post||100 meters south of Saanich Road|
|2||Paved trail||Post||50 metres south of McKenzie|
|3||Gravel trail||Post||200 metres north of the beginning or gravel at:|
Rest stop beside the Don Mann office building, and
The junction with paved trail east to Blenkinsop Road & San Juan route
|4||Gravel trail||Post||200 metres north of N. end of wooden bridge Blenkinsop Lake|
|5||Gravel trail||Post||200 metres south of south end of asphalt trail or service road S of Royal Oak|
asphalt two way
|Light standard||North of Royal Oak. Opposite to intersection of Lochwood Place.|
asphalt two way
|Sign post||Warning of speed bump. Posts on private property indicates treet addresses of house |
≻4711, ≺4731 (odd # on east side).
asphalt two way
|Street sign||Intersection with Abbey Road|
|9||Paved trail||Steel post||Trail junction at Lochside Drive, at Hanover Place; the start of a paved trail parallel to |
Cordova Bay Road leading to controlled crossing of Cordova Bay Rd. at Sayward Hill Cr.
|10||Gravel trail||Post||Beside trail north of Lochside Park and Cordova Bay Golf course, 200 M. north of gravel parking lor|
|11||Gravel Trail||Post||Beside trail 500 M. North of Hunt Rd. crossing|
|12*||Single lane asphalt|
meets gravel Trail
|Trail sign||At posts at N end of paved Lochside Drive N of Dooley Rd.|
|13||Chipseal Road||Speed limit sign||First sign north of Martindale Rd.|
|14*||Chipseal road||Post||South of intersection of Ocean View Road, beside Michell’s Farm store.|
|15||Chipseal road meets|
|Steel post||End of section of Lochside Drive at S. end of Heritage Acres site. LD meets paved trail beside Highway 17|
|16||Paved trail||Post||Along paved trail beside Highway 17|
There are water stations and other amenities:
- beside the Don Mann Excavating’s yard (north of McKenzie), There is a concrete brick muncipal pit privy here too.
- McMinn Park (north of Royal Oak),
- washroom if the building at Lochside Park is open,
- privy in Fowler Park, west of trail, south of Hunt Road,
- portable privy in the Michell’s Farm parking lot, south of the buildings
- near the Mount Newton Cross Road,
- in the building inTulista Park (Sidney).
Southern end in Saanich
The trail is a paved trail from the Switch Bridge, passing under Blanshard Street & Vernon Avenue in tunnels parallel to Ravine Way. It passes through the area south of Swan Lake and crosses Saanich Road (at about 1 Km.). Cyclist have stop signs and motorists on Saanich Road have crossing signs. Cyclists have a crossing with a traffic light at Quadra Street , and another light at the intersection of Borden and McKenzie (at about 2 Km) , where the trail becomes a separated bike lane for a few dozen metres. The trail is well marked and separated from vehicles along Borden, the west end of the Cedar Hill Cross Road, and the south end of Lochside Drive. Motorists should yield to cyclists on the trail
The trail is paved through that section, and becomes gravel at the hydro substation, beside a contractor’s yard (Don Mann Excavating). It is gravelled to Blenkinsop Lake, and crosses the narrow part of the lake on a wooden bridge. It continues as a mix of gravel trails, asphalt streets, chipseal roads, and gravel roads. The gravel is good – depending on traffic and grade. The surface is paved – Lochside Drive from Royal Oak to Cordova Bay Road.
There is a paved dedicated cycling/multi-purpose rtrail at the end of Lochside Drive just south of Cordova Bay Road. The rider going north turns up Hanover but immediately turns onto the paved trail parallet to Cordova Bay.
The paved sections of trail parallel to Cordova Bay Road are messed up by tree rootes. I ignore the turn. and go to Cordova Bay Road. I turn when it was clear, and ride the bike lane to (the resumption of) Lochside Drive (which seems to be an accress road into the parking area of of the Lochside Park complex). This also works the other way,
Central Saanich & northern sections
There is some loose gravel and dirt on a working farm south of Island View. North of Island View, it is a combination of Lochside Drive, a trail along Highway 17, and some streets through Sidney. There is a section of chip sealed tarmac, and an asphalt trail along Highway 17 past the Tsawout First Nation lands to Mount Newton Cross Road. Lochside Drive resumes there and continues north to Sidney. There is a bit that requires caution to the road approaching a roundabout on Highway 17 at McTavis near the airport.
A rider can take a short side trip on the chip seal roads in rural Central Saanich through Hunt Valley. Hunt Road is parallel to the trail. There is access to this route off the trail at Sayward north of Lochside Park and the Cordova Bay Golf course or Dooley following Hunt Road, to Martindale, coming back to the trail near Michell’s Farm at Island View. The Hunt Valley part is chipseal (some sections affected by more “chip sealing” as of summer 2019) with some climbs, but some nice downhills and views.
E&N Rail Trail
See the CRD web page to view, download etc. a map; there is no brochure. This trail does not have posts. This Trail follows the line of the Esquimault & Nanaimo Railway. The tracks, which have not been used for a couple of decades, are still in place.
The tracks crossed Victoria Harbour at the Johnson Street Bridge on a spur attached to the old Blue bridge until the old bridge was demolished. The tracks now end in Victoria West, on the Esquimalt peninsula. The trail crosses the tracks several times. The trail can be considered to have an eastern section in Victoria West and Esquimalt, and central/western sections.
The Eastern section is in Victoria West (of the Harbour) and Esquimalt. It starts, depending on perspective:
- at the east end of the Bridge crossing the harbour over the Bridge, like the Galloping Goose. (The Galloping Goose runs in a bike lane along Harbour Road and a paved trail along the western shore of the middle harbour); or
- at the west end of the Bridge, on the Esquimalt side.
The eastern section in Victoria West and Esquimalt, as of summer 2022:
- On west side of the Bridge, at the Esquimalt end, a paved trail along the south side of the tracks, north of the Delta Hotel and other private parcels east of Esquimalt Road as far south as Tyee/Songhees Road. This trail is narrow, and rough due to tree roots heaving the asphalt, but passable. The paved trail ends at Tyee/Songhees Road east of Esquimalt Rd. A rider can cross the road and follow Kimta to Esquimalt Road at the SW end of Bay Street, and take the bike lane along Esquimalt Road as far as Springfield Street, where the tracks cross Esquimalt Road.
- Along the rail line from where the tracks cross Esquimalt Road west to CFB Nadon on Admirals Road, and west across the starting section of the Island Highway in View Royal, and west to the junction of the Island Highway and Highway One. The CRD and the City laid out the bike lanes along Esquimalt Road in an S curve to cross the tracks at right angles before turning into the trail. The first bit of trail north of Equimalt Road is squeezed between a business property and the track. This can be avoided by turning down William or Springfield and taking Wilson and getting on the trail where the trail crosses Wilson. There are road crossings parallel to level rail crossings. The traffic on some of them may be light but Lampson is heavily travelled. Counterweights or the control boxes for the crossing arms jut out into the trail at most crossing. The crossing of Admirals Road/Colville and the main entrance of the naval base involve two roads, tracks and the base. The traffic pattern is unique; roads intersect at angles; the tracks are at different angles and cyclists have to cross pedestrian sidewalks and make a few tight turns.
- The paved trail follows the tracks into the Songhees First Nation land at Maplebank Road. At Maplebank, the trail separates from the tracks, and runs beside Admirals Road from near Thomas Road to Hallowell (the Admirals Walk mall). The trail is a better option for cyclists than Admirals Road, although Admirals Road was improved in 2018. Admirals Road is wide from the base to the Songhees land. There is a bike lane on the climb to the edge of Esquimault at Caroline Street, close to the ege of the Songhees land. Since summer 2019, the bike lanes are continuous to/from the intersection of Hallowell – with a traffic light – and a left turn at Hallowell (Admirals Walk mall – the Thrifty’s store) to get back to the trail, or ride along the shoulder approaching Craigflower and the bridge over the end of the Gorge.
The central section is in View Royal, and the western section is in Langford:
- The trail follows the rail line from Hallowell to the Island Highway and Douglas. It is elevated over the east end of the Island Highway and Helmcken Road.
- The trail along the tracks is paved as far west as the Island Highway, where the Island Highway intersects with Highway One. It crosses the Island Highway again where the Island Highway crosses under Highway One.
- It joins the Galloping Goose Trail north of Highway One. A rider can cross Highway One and the exit ramp from Highway One 1 to the Island Highway at a controlled level crossing, and enter the Galloping Goose. The paved cycling trail for the next few Km. west can be called the Galloping Goose, or the E&N, or a common trail. It may be identified on a map as Goose or E&N;
- The E&N trail becomes a separate trail again:
- A paved trail from the Goose, beside Atkins Avenue for a few hundred meters – to where the tracks cross Atkins; and a new (2021) paved trail along the south side of the tracks from Savory School (on Atkins) to Veterans Memorial and
- another section of paved trail along the north side of the tracks along Station Avenue in Langford from Veterans Memorial to Jacklin Street.
The tracks and trail are parallel to Atkins and Station Road in Langford. This part of the trail has road crossings, The trail crosses Veterans Memorial Parkway and Peatt Road. These crossings involve crossing busy roads with traffic signals at level crossings and then getting back on the trail through posts and gates. The trail has the advantage of being separated from traffic, but has disadvantages. It is efficient to stay on the road, cross urban Langford and take Jacklin to Jenkins and get in narrow bike lane and follow Jenkins and Glen Lake to Sooke Road and go onto the Goose or Happy Valley Road.
On some maps the E&N trail is shown as continuing into Langford, by way of Atkins Road. Atkins is an asphalt road. It has a bit of bike lane in urban Langford but is mainly narrow, without shoulders. It intersects the Goose twice. It climbs into the Highlands. There has been a paved trail parallel to Atkins, since late 2016, which was extended in 2021 to Veterans Memorial in Langford.
Bike Lanes & Routes
The City of Victoria has built bike lanes separated from the part of the road used by vehicle by concrete curbs along downtown streets:
- Wharf Street from Humbolt and Government north to the Bridge
- Pandora Avenue from the Bridge north to Vancouver Street;
- Fort Street from Government Street north to Vancouver Street.
The separated lanes were not popular with merchants with retail businesses. In some areas the bike lanes swoop and swerve around transit stops or zones for taxis and cars to stop. Some pedestrians step into the bike lanes or use them as sidewalks. These lanes are used by commuters with a electric powered scooters and skateboards.
Some roads in Greater Victoria have painted bike lanes, but many streets are too narrow for bike lanes. Some bike lanes suddenly pinch and disappear.
Langford has some bike lanes on paved shoulders along some roads. In rural areas such as Metchosin or Central Saanich, paved roads have narrow shoulders or no shoulders and there are few bike lanes.
The Interurban Rail Trail Route is mainly a route along Interurban Road in Saanich and Wallace Drive in Central Saanich. It is identified on signs and some maps – for instance this map on John Luton’s Cycling Vancouver Island site. The BC Electric Railway had an Interurban route from Victoria to Deep Cove 1913-1924. The trail follows parts of the route of the abandoned rail line.
There is access to Interurban Road from the Galloping Goose, just past Tillicum (5 Km out from the Blue Bridge) on a short side trail that allows riders to descend and ride the northbound bike lane of the Interurban Road. It climbs past the Camosun College Interurban Campus to West Saanich Road, but gently.
The parts of this trail:
- a bike lane on the Interurban Road. The bike lane is not wide, and pinches out at a couple of places. It is necessary to turn across Interurban Road just south of the intersection of West Saanich Road;
- a gravel single lane road and trail parallel to West Saanich Road;
- Wallace Drive (aged asphalt), to Brentwood Bay;
- Wallace Drive from Brentwood Bay to Saanichton,
- Wallace Drive to Amity (chipseal)
- Amity to the Pat Bay Highway. The Highway is crossed on an ancient pedestrian overpaass. It is short ride on Amity east of the Highway to Lochside Drive at a point a few Km. north of Mount Newton X-Road.
The gravel portion starts as a gravel road intersection Interurban Road just west of West Saancih Road. It is level, low traffic. In sections the trail a gravel service road for residences west of West Saanich. The gravel portion crosses few roads intersecting the west side of the West Saanich road and some driveway access point onto West Saanich. Some of the road crossed have traffic – the Mount Work turn off, and Prospect Lake Road, and the intersection with Wallace on the Tod Creek flats. It is generally a good option to ride in that area – West Saanich road is paved but has heavy traffic and a steepish bits – e.g. West Saanich Road past the observatory road.
Wallace Drive is mainly old pebbled asphalt. The first section from West Saanich Road into Brentwood Bay is narrow, without paved shoulder. The asphalt has been patched, but some of the patches are breaking down. It is a bit wider and has a bike lane most of the way from Brentwood Bay into Saanichton. Wallace runs into Mount Newton x-Road in Saanichton. Then a few hundred meters to East Saanich, in Saanichton is offset. There is a left turn onto East Saanich and right turn off back onto the next section of Wallace a block later. At this point, the road is chipseal instead or asphant. It is ightly travelled. It follows a ridge through an agricultural area into a cluster of houses. Wallace runs into Amity which drops toward the Pat Bay. Amity does not cross the Pat Bay. There is a short block of Amity east of the Pat Bay. the Lochside is less than 100 m. way. There is a footbridge over the Pat Bay. .
The routes back to Victoria are by Blenkinsop or Cedar Hill to Cook. Another direct return is Royal Oak to the Lochside School, and then back south by the trail.
I lived in James Bay 2006-2020, at the south end of the City of Victoria, in the urban part of Greater Victoria between the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Inner Harbour.
Many routes out of James Bay have vehicle traffic. Douglas Street and Blanshard Streets are heavily travelled. Douglas Street becomes a highway (the Trans-Canada) west to Colwood and Langford, over the Malahat and north up-island. It has a paved shoulder and bike lane, but the traffic on the entrance and exit ramps is significant. Blanshard Street runs up to Saanich and the BC Ferry terminal at Swartz Bay. It is a highway, called Highway 17 or the Pat Bay Highway. It has bike lanes, but significant traffic. Other streets go north: Quadra, Cook, Gorge Road, Cedar Hill, Richmond, Shelbourne. They have drawbacks including traffic, lack of bike lanes, limited visibility, curb lanes occupied by parked cars, elevation changes. One option is to go downtown along Government, Douglas, Blanshard or Quadra as far as Fort Street and east and north on Fort Street whch has a bike lane (as of 2019) The bike lane was redeveloped as a separated lane out past Cook Street as of 2017-18. Fort Street crosses Oak Bay Avenue which runs east out to Beach. Fort becomes the Cadboro Bay Road.
There is 5 k. loop around James Bay on Belleville along the Harbour on the north, the streets at the west end, Dallas on the south, and Douglas on the east. There is longer loop around Beacon Hill Park by Cook Street, and some loops in the park. The is a new paved bike lane beside Dallas from Beacon Hill park to Ogden Point as of 2020 after Dallas Road was torn up 2018-20 for sewer reconstruction. These are usually safe in the evening but the traffic on Sundays is heavy between tourists, families with children, people walking dogs, and people taking elderly parents out.
In the first few years, many times , I went east on Dallas past Beacon Hill Park and the Ross Bay Cemetery and followed a nearly coastal route. Dallas continues until it runs into Hollywood Crescent and Crescent Drive, which also follow the coast. These streets connect to to Beach Drive in Oak Bay. The traffic along Dallas is steady. There are intermittent micro-congestions behind tour buses and the ubiquitous horse drawn carriage rides. There are sections where cars park at an angle facing the Strait. The drivers have little vision and can back into oncoming traffic. These conditions may be mitigated by the new bike paths that opened in 2020.
In 2016 I began to take the Beacon Hill-Oak Bay-Uplands-UVic-San Juan option.
- going southeast along Niagara, through Beacon Hill Park exiting on Park Avenue;
- cross Cook Street at May, turning north at Moss Street, crossing crossed Fairfield at the traffic light;
- turning right on Thurlow and follow Thurlow to Kipling and Brooke to St. Charles. Then another block along Chandler to Richmond, and a short block to Richardson. This avoided climbs of streets approaching the heights on Richardson at the south end of the Government House area. I used this as a route to Richmond at Richardson.
- From there, I often cross Foul Bay Road and proceed on Richardson (which becomes McNeill in Oak Bay) to Victoria, turn left and then turn right onto Windsor.
- I turn at Monterey, to cross Oak Bay Avenue with traffic lights. I go north on Monterey and St. Ann to Bowker, turn left and then right to continue northbound to the edge of Uplands of Oak Bay on Musgrave.
- I ride north and cross Lansdowne on Midland, continue on Upper Terrace until to ends at Cadboro Bay Road, opposite the end of Cedar Hill Cross Road.
- I cross Cadboro Bay Road and ride west on Cedar Hill Cross Road to University Drive and turn there and cross the Univesity of Victoria. Sometimes I pass the University and turn north on Gordon Head.
- I emerge at Gordon Head and McKenzie, at the NW corner of the campus, and on go up Gordon Head to Feltham. A left turn and an immediate right onto Longview brings me to San Juan, which runs west as road and trail as far west as Cedar Hill Road.
My main cycling-friendly route out of James Bay was north along Menzies or Government to the Legislature, and along Government and Wharf along the Inner Harbour to the east end of the Johnson Street Bridge. There is a cycling lane, as of 2019, along Government from Belleville to Humbolt and along Wharf to Johnson Steet.
I moved to Victoria West in 2020, on the Esquimalt side of the Gorge, west of urban Victoria. I am north of the Bay Street Bridge, which is north of the Johnson Street Bridge. As of November 2020, I am on the west side of the Bridge near the Selkirk Trestle. (A few hundred m. west of the 1 km Galloping Goose post, and a few hundred m. east of the 2 km post at the west end of the Trestle). I can get onto the Goose by riding along Catherine Street north across Skinner/Craigflower, and down the eastern part of Raynor Avenue onto Regatta, a road across the housing developments on along the Gorge. This local route lets me get onto the Goose at the Trestle. I can take the Goose north, or south to Esquimalt Road, and the Bridge. I also have access to the Bridge by taking Catherine Street south, crossing Wilson and Esquimalt Road and riding on Kimta to the Bridge.
I can take the Goose along the Gorge to the Swingbridge and either the Goose or the Lochside. I am a little closer some of the waypoints on routes that I take regularly. Generally, from my old home I had to travel about 2.5 km to reach the Bridge and another Km to reach the Selkirk Trestle.
|Royal Oak at Lochside (Lochside School)||8.9||11.3|
|Claremont Road at Lochside||11.0|
|Cordova Bay Road at Lochside (Mattick’s Farm)||12.2||14.6|
|Island View Road at Lochside (Michell’s Farm)||17.4||19.75|
I can get onto the E&N Trail at Wilson. I can also reach the trail by taking some side streets out of my immediate area, crossing Hereward and taking Devonshire to the E&N trail.
I can begin many rides by takiing either the Goose or the E&N to the point that the Island Highway intersects with Highway One. It is about 9.5 Km along the Goose, and about 8 Km along the E&N.
I can get into Esquimalt south of Esquimalt Road by taking Wilson to Dominion, crossing Esquimalt Road and taking Wollaston or Dunsmuir west through the West Bay area to reach Lampson. A short block south on Lampson takes me to Lyall, which takes me past the back of the Archie Browning (a curling arena that served as a vaccination center in 2021) and Esquimalt recreational buildings, to Fraser Street close to the Esquimalt branch of the library. The ride to the library and back is 6.2 Km. by that route. Or a trip to the library can be part of a ride across the Bridge or a ride past the base on Admirals Road and out the E&N. I can also get onto the south end of Admirals Road, which gives me a way to reach the naval base and to connect to the E&N at the base.
The Victoria Canoe & Kayak Club is on Gorge Road just past Tillicum. My best route from James Bay to the club was over the Johnson Street Bridge, along the Galloping Goose to the park at the West Victoria Y, near the Selkirk Trestle. At that point it’s off the trail through the park to Craigflower and then on Selkirk, a side street t parallel to Craigflower, all the way to Tillicum. At that point a right turn onto Tillicum, across the bridge, a left turn onto Gorge Road and that’s it. It was 6.8 k one way, mainly off the main roads.
Arterial roads and Cross roads
The drawbacks of major arteries as cycling routes include vehicular traffic, lack of bike lanes, limited visibility, parked cars, elevation changes.
North-South Arterial Streets
Several arterial streets in the City of Victoria run north and south in the City and for some distance: Government Street, Douglas Street, Blanshard Street, Cook Street, Quadra Street, Shelbourne/Mount Douglas Parkway, Cordova Bay Road. Some become highways or freeways. Douglas Street becomes a highway that runs west, and passes the south end of Squally Reach, and becomes the Island Highway along the east side of Vancouver Island. Blanshard Street becomes Highway 17 running north along the Saanich Peninsula through municipalities north of Victoria on the Saanich peninsula to the BC Ferries terminal at Swartz Bay at the N. end of the peninsula.
Several streets go east and west across Victoria: Bay Street, Fort Street. Johnson &Pandora/Oak Bay, Fairfield, Lansdown/Hillside/Gorge Road, Finlayson/North Dairy, Esquimalt Road, Craigflower, MacKenzie, Royal Oak, Cedar Hill Cross (X) Road.
Fairfield traverses Oak Bay from downtown. It becomes to Beach at Hollywood. It is heavily travelled, and has parking in several sections. It has some steeper areas. Richardson and McNeill traverse Oak Bay from Cook east to the water, at the Oak Bay Marina. It has parking in several sections. It has some steeper areas. In 2021, the roadway was altered to reduce vehicular traffic and encourage cycling.
Royal Oak Drive starts at Cordova Bay Road at the north end of Mount Douglas Park. The Lochside trail crosses it near Lochside School. (which showed up in one of the commercials for the London Olympics in 2012 – the ones narrated by Gordon Pinsent). Royal Oak goes west from Mount Douglas, past Broadmead Village (a shopping center with Canadian Tire, Thifty’s a) and across the Pat Bay Highway. It has bike lanes as far west as Highway 17, but not on the overpass. Traffic is heavy. It has some climbs and descents.
There is a crossing route north of McKenzie called the San Juan Greenway. From the west, it starts at the Lochside Trail, at Don Mann excavators. First, the Blenkinsop Greenway, a paved trail across farms to Blenkinsop Road . Then a paved trail along Mt. Douglas X Road to Glendenning. Then paved and residential streets to Elnido/San Juan Avenue. San Juan is a wide residential street. It has beenconnected with a paved trail through the park with sports fields on Tyndall. There are stop signs, and a few climbs. There is a road crossing at Blenkinsop and a trail connecting to the Lochside just beside Don Mann Excavating. At the east end of San Juan, there are routes to get onto Gordon Head and cross McKenzie and enter the U Vic campus. Or to get to Arbutus. From the east, it is approached from Arbutus or from U Vic by way of Gordon Head. There some ways off of Gordon Head through the residential area. From the east, the stop signs are at Tyndall, Torquay, Majestic, Shelbourne , Cedar Hill.
East-West Arterial Roads
In some areas, the main arteries are East-West e.g. Esquimalt Road and Craigflower (the Island Highway west of Admirals Rd.) in Victoria West and Esquimalt on the Esquimalt peninsula. The cross streets – Tyee/Skinner, Lampson, Admirals Road, run north and south.
In Saanich and Central Saanich, there are east-west roads named “cross road” – Keating, Stelly’s, Mount Newton. Also, near the airport McTavish. Each has a degree of climb, traffic, minimal or no bike lanes and other concerns. Wallace crosses the Saanich Peninsula diagonally from Brentwood Bay on the west coast of the Saanich peninsula to Saanichton. It is a bit better, but it has traffic and nominal bike lanes.
Past the airport, there is a route from Patricia Bay on the west to Sidney in the east. Mills Road starts (or ends) at West Saanich Road and runs along the north edge of the airport. It connects to Beacon Avenue, which crosses Highway 17 and connects to the Lochside Trail and other trails and roads in Sidney. There is a bike trail along Mills – part the airport trail called the Flight Path.
North South Routes; U Vic; Mount Douglas
The best route out of Victoria north up the Saanich Peninsula is the Galloping Goose Trail to the Swingbridge, and the Lochside Trail.
Other options on the east side of the peninsula go to or near the University of Victoria or Mount Douglas. U Vic:
- Foul Bay Road to Cadboro Bay Road and out to Cedar Hill X Road (University of Victoria). A grind up a hill, and traffic.
- Up Cook Street, until it branches onto Cedar Hill. Cedar Hill turns into Shelbourne near the Park. Shebourne turns into the Cordova Bay Road at the edge of the Park. Cook is heavily travelled by Victoria standards, but wide and generally 4 lanes. There are some sharp climbs on Cook and along Cedar Hill. The surface is good.
- Shelburne Street is heavily travelled and not good for cyclists. It has bike lanes from Begbie out past Bay Street, but they do not continue along some narrower corridors in well travelled street. It is better to go to U Vic and cross from Gordon Head to Shelboure via Feltham.
- Foul Bay and Cadboro Bay Road to Cedar Hill X Road. There are a more ways to U Vic off the coastal route: from Arbutus along Finnerty or Gordon Head.
- Richardson/McNeill, cross onto Windsor and cross Oak Bay on Hampshire or Monterey/St. Ann and then proceed north on Musgrave to the Uplands area.
- Through Oak Bay by Musgrave to the Uplands, continue by Midland and Upper Terrace, and cross Cadboro Bay Road at Cedar Hill X Road.
- Coastal: Dallas, and Beach. The pure coastal approach involves Dallas, Hollywood and Crescent and a climb up to King George Terrace. Or, along Crescent, a turn onto Foul Bay Road, and then on McNeill or Oak Bay and east to Beach. One option is to go down to Beach near the Oak Bay Marina and turn on Beach. The coastal approach goes past Cadboro Bay. Beach runs into Arbutus, which runs into Ferndale. Ferndale become Grandview, and Grandview become Ash, running to the edge of Mount Douglas Park where it runs into or becomes Cordova Bay Road.
Some have drawbacks:
- from Beach by Lansdowne, Cadboro Bay Road and Cedar Hill X Road (steep bits)
- Foul Bay Bay Road, (traffic, steep).
The routes to Mount Douglas Park come out on Cordova Bay Road at the south east edge of the park and run along the base of Mount Douglas through some older Douglas firs. The road is heavily traveled, but it has a bike lane. At the north end of the park, Cedar Hill reaches an intersection. I can make a sharp left turn and head south up Blenkinsop and hook up with Cook. I make a soft left turn onto Royal Oak, or I can make a soft right and proceed on Cordova Bay.
West Saanich – the Lakes
On the west side of the Pat Bay, and north of Royal Oak, West Saanich Road travels north. It intersects Wallace at Brentwood Bay and goes to end of the airport and all the way to Deep Cove. West Saanich is heavily travelled, and has some climbs and drops. The bike lane is just a narrow shoulder.
The Interurban Route avoids the traffic along West Saanich Road by using gravel roads and trails and following Wallace.
There are options. It is possible to cross West Saanich Road near the end of Interurban Road and explore Old West Saanich Road (narrow; steep bits). It is also possible to traverse off of Interurban Road by some side roads and that connect to West Saanich Road, cross West Saanich, and traverse east to the parks around Beave and Elk Lake
There is access from Beaver Lake Road at the south end of Beaver to a trail on the west side of the lakes – it is an old rail grade (I have not figured out which one). It is about 4 k. of trail north to Brookleigh Road, which lead to other options. One is to turn east on Brookleigh out to the Pat Bay, ride the paved shoulder until the north end of Elk Lake Drive or Royal Oak. Another is to go west to Oldfield and north on Oldfield to Keating Cross Road
It is possible to reach Beaver Lake Road from the east. The Lochside Trail intersects Royal Oak. Royal Oak has a bike lane from the Lochside Trail to the Pat Bay Highway and Elk Lake Drive. There is access to Beaver Lake Roadby turning onto Elk Lake Drive and going through the Park
A ride to Sidney and back from James Bay was about a 65 k ride on the Lochside trail. I could turn it into a century by going to Oak Bay and out to Mt. Douglas first, then crossing to West Saanich Road and meandering across rural Saanich around the airport, or out around Deep Cove or Swartz Bay before riding to Sidney.
On July 15, 2007 I started with the outbound part of the Mt Douglas ride. Second leg: Brentwood Bay by Royal Oak & W. Saanich Rd. Third leg: Sidney by Stelly’s X, E. Saanich Rd., Mount Newton X, Lochside. Break: at 47 k., Serious Coffee in Sidney. Fourth leg: Brentwood Bay by Lochside, Mt Newton X, E. Saanich Rd, Wallace. Fifth leg: east again by Keating X to Oldfield, south to Brookleigh (N. end of Elk and Beaver Lake) east to the Pat Bay Highway, south on the shoulder. Sixth leg: Royal Oak to W. Saanich, Markham and the Camosun campus to the Interurban, south to Burnside. Then I had a short stretch on the Goose, out Cloverdale to Cook, down to Dallas. 90k. Finish: Loops around Beacon Hill and James Bay.
On August 6, 2007, I tried a route that started with the outbound part of the typical Mt. Douglas ride. Second leg: Royal Oak to W. Saanich Road, and out to Brentwood Bay. Third leg: Wallace to Saanichton, E. Saanich Rd to Willingdon, around the airport. Mills, Beacon, to Sidney. Break at 50 k at Serious Coffee in Sidney. Fourth leg – South: Lochside along Bazan Bay to Mt Newton X. Central Saanich, (Keating X) and Oldfield to Brookleigh. Pat Bay Hy. (shoulder) to Royal Oak, W. Saanich to Markham, Camosun, Interurban, W. Burnside, down to Douglas. Fifth leg – south and east: Galloping Goose to the Gorge. Gorge Road, Hillside, Lansdown to Foul Bay Rd. Finish: waterfront to Cook, up to Cook Street Village, loop on Oxford and Moss back to Dallas, past Ogden Point. Montreal, Niagara and Boyd.
Another option of getting a century would be Mount Douglas, Royal Oak, and then West Saanich all the way to Deep Cove, around Swartz Bay, and then back into Sidney, etc.Other options for long rides can be taken from the Tour de Victoria 2012 Map.
The Victoria & Gulf Island Cycling and Walking Map, developed by the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition and Davenport Maps is in a 5th edition (2013 ?). It has a QR code that opens updates if you have a device and a connection. It is sold at MEC, some cycling stores and some book stores. It show places where there are trails and paths where the pavement end to make connections. It also shows climbs and descents with chevrons. It shows bike stores and rentals.
John Luton’s Cycle Vancouver Island site is aimed at touring visitors.John Crouch’s Bike Victoria, in the 2006 edition or the 2012 revised edition, is useful. (The revision adds some mountain bike routes, but mainly adjusts the ride notes). John Crouch’s web page has a list of stores where it is available. Here is my list and concordance. (Distances are from Crouch’s suggested start points).
|2012 Ride #||2006 Ride #||Km.||Chapter/Ride Name|
|Victoria, Oak Bay, Esquimault|
|3||20||Coffee Shop Crawl|
|3||14||Downtown/Oak Bay Marina|
|4||4||21||James Bay/Oak Bay|
|5||14||Beacon Hill Park/Oak Bay|
|5||6||33||Beacon Hill Park/Mt. Douglas Park/Broadmead|
|6||7||24||Oak Bay/Uvic/ Ten Mile Point|
|8||8||31||Equimault, View Royal|
|9||9||28, 44, 56||Coastline Route (3 variants)|
|Saanich, Central Saanich, North Saanich, Sidney|
|11||11||24||Elk & Beaver Lake/Brentwood Bay/Saanichton|
|12||12||18||Elk & Beaver Lake/Cordova Bay|
|13||13||29||Beaver Lake/Prospect Lake/Brentwood Bay|
|14||14||30||Tillicum Mall/Interurban Road/Highland Road|
|15||15||20||Carey Road/Layritz Park/Burnside Road|
|16||16||10||Mt. Douglas Park/Blenkinsop Valley|
|18||18||22, 27, 32||Cordova Bay/Island View Beach Pk./Central Saanich|
|19||19||25||Panorama Rec. Centre/Ardmore Drive|
|20||20||15||Bazan Bay/Central Saanich|
|21||21||32||Bazan Bay/Deep Cove/Curteis Point/Sidney|
|23||23||10||Wain Road/Deep Cove|
|24||24||16||Blue Heron Park/Lands End Road|
|25||25||36||Tour of the Highlands|
|26||40||Roads & Trails|
|26||27||66, 93||Tour of Saanich|
|27||28||39||Highlands/Humpback Road/Galloping Goose|
|28||29||24||Atkins Road/Happy Valley Road/Esquimault Lagoon|
|29||30||27||Tour of Metchosin|
|33||42, 160||Jordan River|
|Roads & Trails|
|32||65, 45, 28||Peninsula Loops|
|33||46||Bear Hill/Layritz Park Loop|
|34||54, 48||Thetis Lake Loops|
|35||62||Hazlitt Creek Loop|
|36||34||32, 22||Shawnigan Lake/Cameron Taggert Road|
|37||35||97||Shawnigan Lake via the Malahat Drive|
|38||36||47||Mill Bay/Cowichan Bay/Shawnigan Lake|
|39||37||30||Cowichan Valley Winery Tour|
34, 20, 10
|Galloping Goose Regional Trail|
|Lochside Regional Trail|
|42||40||28||Trans-Canada/Cowichan Valley Trail|
|Routes Into Victoria|
|44||42||30, 32||Swarz Bay Ferry Terminal|