Courtenay councillors have 1960s vision about bicycles

Dear editor,
Reference the recent "open house" to show the cyclepath plans for Fitzgerald, Courtenay City Hall staff have laid down useful information.

Dear editor,

Reference the recent “open house” to show the cyclepath plans for Fitzgerald, Courtenay City Hall staff have laid down useful information.

But this needs updating! Back in 2007 when the Comox Valley Cycling Plan was published and then endorsed by Courtenay City Council, a cycle path designated by painted white lines would probably have been sufficient to satisfy the two to four per cent road usage mode share by cyclists.

These would have been committed cyclists mostly aware of the risks associated with cycling on busy roads.

However, Council earlier this year unanimously approved an Amendment to the OCP which includes “To reduce the City’s annual community-wide greenhouse gas emissions 20% below 2007 levels by 2020…”

This, of course, cannot be achieved without a substantial reduction in journeys by motorized vehicles and the OCP in fact calls for the cycling mode share to be increased to 10 per cent.

The OCP makes no mention of the fact that it is “2007” levels that are the base for this reduction, and by 2020 we will have an increased population with yet more cars.

In fact, the City director of operations, when discussing in Council the recent Cliffe Widening Project, noted that Cliffe could well become a six-lane highway to deal with the future increase in traffic! (He did not add that to get this traffic on and off Cliffe, we would need another bridge over the river).

It is evident, therefore, that to bring greenhouse gas emissions down by 20 per cent over 2007 levels, it will require not only cycling targets greater than those proposed, but also the other non-single occupancy vehicle targets will need to be increased.

To increase the cycling mode share requires that new cyclists take to the roads, and these will of necessity include inexperienced adults and most importantly, commuting school children. I would not be happy if my grandchildren, and I am sure parents of five- to 16-year-olds would agree, were to be cycling on busy roads with the only thing between them and the wheels of passing trucks, buses and cars was a painted white line!

Every year across Canada, cyclists are injured and even killed while cycling on “their” side of a painted white line. To increase the numbers of cyclists, it has to be safe and as demonstrated by cities not only in Europe, but also in North and South America, cycle paths must be physically separated from vehicular traffic.

If instead of a white line, a concrete barrier was placed along Fitzgerald, it could have gaps at driveways, and the street property line is mostly wide enough that residents could park their cars alongside the barrier.

The big problem lies not with the construction, but with the will of the majority of councillors who seem stuck with the “motor car is king” vision of the 1960s.

As far back as 1995, the OCP called for Courtenay to be a “cycle-friendly city,” but as council well knows, the OCP is not mandatory, and in fact by simple majority vote, a council can legally take action opposite to the requirements of an OCP.

The question is therefore, do we want a six-lane highway through the city with its accompanying increase in greenhouse gas emissions, or do we want the OCP to be implemented?

If the latter, then those city councillors with their backward 1960 vision need, at the next election, to be replaced by citizens with 2020 forward looking vision.

Dave Livingstone,


Comox Valley Record

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