I am certain that other letter writers will gladly point out that Director Arbour’s gas station elimination plan has some issues. Instead, I would like to suggest some things that are within his powers (and responsibilities) that would help the Comox Valley use less gasoline in personal vehicles.
1. Ensure that shoulders and bike lanes are maintained free of growth and swept frequently of trash, gravel, and broken glass so they are safe for cyclists and pedestrians. Where shoulders don’t exist, make sure drivers know that cyclists are equal road users with signage and enforcement. On routes that I know aren’t maintained for cyclists I frequently choose to drive when a bike would serve.
2. Make bus travel pleasant by making sure that more shelters are built and there are benches available. Right now riders risk sunburns and heatstroke to take a journey that might take three times as long. Why in the world would anyone choose that over driving!
3. Work with the RCMP to enforce laws about illegal exhaust modifications, pedestrian and cyclist safety, and prioritizing bike theft enforcement. No one wants to get blasted with a mouthful of diesel fumes, have to risk death in a crosswalk, or have an expensive bike stolen when they could just drive.
4. Make zoning rules that are human-friendly. Downtown Comox, and Fifth street in Courtenay are thriving areas that provide jobs and huge economic activity in the Valley. They are also the least car-prioritized areas; speed limits are very low, marked crosswalks at every corner, large wide sidewalks with shade, and plenty of secure places to lock a bike. It isn’t a coincidence that the areas designed for people over cars are the ones where there are fewer cars and more people.
We need to get away from carbon emissions sooner, but we should do that by making alternatives like bikes, e-bikes, e-scooters, the bus, and your own two feet an attractive alternative. Making everyone’s life harder without providing reasonable alternatives will just make people believe that a carbon-free future is a miserable one instead of a more pleasant and livable one.