I attended the open house on July 9 organized by the City of Courtenay to discuss bike lanes on Fitzgerald Avenue.
There are three things that I took away from that meeting that continue to rattle around in my brain.
1. Residents on Fitzgerald Avenue who were present at the meeting seem to have the idea that Fitzgerald belongs to them and that they should have the major say in what happens to that avenue. However, my understanding is that Fitzgerald is just one of hundreds of roads, streets, lanes, etc. in the Comox Valley that are paid for with tax dollars and used by all residents of the Comox Valley.
And why do car drivers think that cyclists don’t pay taxes? We live in houses, we own businesses, we offer services — we all pay taxes that support our transportation systems in the Comox Valley.
2. The comment was made that cyclists should get off the roads and use trails designed for bikes, e.g. make a bike trail beside the E&N railway.
It may come as a surprise to car drivers but many cyclists are on the road doing the same thing that car drivers are doing — going to work, taking kids to school, shopping, and going to the doctor. Not all cyclists are on their bikes for recreation.
We see bicycles as an integral part of a more holistic transportation system that includes pedestrians and cyclists in planning. A more viable transportation system focuses as much energy on pedestrian, cycle, and bus transport as it does on car infrastructure.
3. I applaud the City of Courtenay for moving forward with cycling upgrades and especially Nancy Hofer for her deft handling of the meeting. However, I think the City is trying too hard to jump to a Copenhagen model before we have tried some simpler and less-costly solutions.
Fitzgerald is a wide street that can be used by both cars and cyclists. Slow the traffic down to 40 km/h. If people want a faster route, they can use Cliffe Avenue.
Then put up dozens of bright yellow Share the Road signs along both sides of Fitzgerald. We can all share the roads in this great city.