I would like to set the record straight that we did not “have the gall to ask Courtenay City Council for a bridge specifically for cyclists.”
Since the cycling coalition was formed about three years ago we have never gone to any local government demanding improvements for cycling. Instead we have worked with them to meet the challenges the Valley is facing in transportation with the rapid growth of our population and the ever-increasing number of cars on our roads.
It does not matter if we believe in the global problem of climate change or not. One only has to travel around our Valley, see the traffic congestion, hear the increased noise, and smell the exhaust fumes to realize that this is not good for our health, our environment and our lifestyle.
We have reached a point where we can no longer keep up with traffic congestion by building more or wider roads. We have to encourage people to use other modes of transportation.
No, we will not try to force anyone to do this. There are enough people out there willing to do it if we make our roads safe enough for them.
It has been proven in many cities around the world that the bicycle is the most cost effective tool to reduce the number of cars on roads.
And this is not said just by cycling-oriented organizations.
The Canadian Automobile Association organized and paid for a conference earlier this summer in Vancouver. The speakers at this event were traffic experts from all over North America and the topic was this very issue we are facing in our Valley.
The message that came out of this conference was that the best way to eliminate/reduce conflicts and confrontations between cyclists and drivers is by clearly identifying, or physically separating cycling lanes from car traffic. This also is the most cost effective way to increase capacity for cars on the roads.
A win-win for everyone!
And now back to the bridge.
In the presentation to Courtenay council, we proposed that Courtenay build a bridge for pedestrians and cyclists over the Courtenay River from the foot of Sixth Street to Simms Park. This is not a new idea as it was considered several times by various people over the last decade or so.
An attractive bridge in this location would be an asset to Courtenay and a tourist attraction for many years to come. That it would also be a key link for any cycling network we may want to create in the Comox Valley is just a bonus.
We have contacted the Timber Framers Guild (TFG) and laid the groundwork for them to take this project on. Projects done by the TFG have the habit of involving the whole community — local governments, businesses, professionals, tradespeople, local service clubs as well as individuals.
They are also likely to bring the total cost of the project to well below of what it would cost if done by a regular contractor.
I expect that we will hear a lot more about this project in the near future.