The front page coverage in the Jan. 16 Comox Record given to the Ryan Road walkway issue (Widened walkway proposed on Ryan Road) was heartening. The road is a major thoroughfare linking much of the community to important and vital institutions: North Island College, North Island Hospital, and the Aquatic Centre. To make the road safe for pedestrians, bicyclists and people with diverse abilities who use scooters would be an obvious asset. Not only has vehicle traffic increased, it seems to have become more aggressive as population increases. This is the experience of many cities. In Vancouver, debates about the Stanley Park causeway, also a major link between communities, took decades of dithering between cost, complexity and cutting trees down to make room for pedestrians, bicyclists and scooters. What finally moved governments to do something was a truly horrendous accident in which an experienced bicyclist over-compensated to pass a pedestrian and fell into a bus travelling in the same direction. The trauma and grief were so profound. A safe causeway was then constructed but no one who knows the history will forget why it is there, a boon, for all the pedestrians, bicyclists and scooters who use it now; a memorial rather than the foresight of government officials.
We are much more than the automobile in this day and age. People take justifiable pride in being able to move around their city without relying on a car. We won’t be getting off the automobile any time soon, and, in the meantime, populations will increase, car travel will increase and so will those who walk, bike and use scooters. Thanks to the Comox Valley Accessibility Committee for making safety an issue of opportunity for community improvement, an improvement which would benefit everyone who uses Ryan Road.