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Cumberland surveys residents on active transportation

“This master plan is really going to play a part in connecting our community”
The Village of Cumberland is looking at active transportation. Photo by Mike Chouinard

Many Cumberland residents feel the community’s active transportation network is not excellent or poor but “fair.”

That was just one of the responses in a recent survey aimed at coming up with a plan for active transportation. This, in turn, will help inform Cumberland’s transportation master plan, which is in the works.

The survey was part of a process overseen by consultation at Urban Systems. It ran over three weeks and recently concluded, attracting 448 responses.

“The focus of the survey was more so on active transportation, but we did explore all modes of transportation,” said Beth Hurford, a community transportation consultant at Urban Systems. “We received a really strong response rate.”

This also included questions about public transit use and obstacles for some in using transit.

She recently presented the findings to council at a committee of the whole meeting. The process examined the opportunities for active means of moving around the community such as walking and cycling. The vision for the plan includes references to the community’s unmatched quality of life and its status as a “mecca” for outdoor recreation.

Of those who ranked the transportation system, 163 described it as “fair.” Eight responded “excellent”, 99 as “good”, 67 as “poor” and 17 as “very bad.”

The process also highlighted specific concerns and themes such as a need for better connectivity, more facilities, better parking, traffic safety and opportunities for multiple modes of transportation.

The most common barriers people cited for walking included a lack of pathways, traffic speeds, poor lighting and other factors. For cycling, these included a lack of routes and traffic. The second most common response was “Other,” which included reasons such as not cycling. It also asked people to describe what kind of cyclist they are, with many responding with the middle-of-the-pack answer of “Interested but Concerned.” It was the second most-common answer.

“This is where the potential is,” Hurford said.

Along with the community survey process, Urban Systems conducted an inventory of facilities for active transportation and a review of policies to support the concept. The inventory identified different types of bike lanes and infrastructure to support pedestrians.

The work will help support council’s work on its master transportation plan, taking into account themes such as connectivity.

“There’s definitely a huge callout to connect Courtenay and Cumberland with something other than the Parkway, which is very challenging,” Coun. Sean Sullivan said. “This master plan is really going to play a part in connecting our community.”

Other members of council commented on engaging more young people in the process as well as how this work will support the Comox Valley Regional District on its upcoming transit plan. Still, council was pleased with the overall response from the public.

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