I have to respond to the continued attacks on bike riders and bike lanes.
For starters, most people who ride bikes also own cars; we do already pay road tax.
Riding bikes is healthier for the riders and the planet — this is a proven fact.
Bike lanes encourage more people to take to their wheels, as it’s safer than being mixed in with car and truck drivers, many of whom seem to hold similar attitudes of sole entitlement to the road. Bike lanes ease the minds of parents to encourage their children to ride bikes. I well remember the feeling of freedom a bike gave me as a teenager, and the ability to go further afield than on foot.
How much did the putting in of new and curving curbs on Eighth Street cost? I’m willing to bet it was a lot more than bike lanes, yet there’s no questioning of this, which only seemed a cosmetic undertaking.
The new slip road to McDonalds on Cliffe Avenue? Very little questioning of that; (other than the usual trouble-making ‘greenies’ who ride bikes and so on).
And closing the streets for public events?
These initiatives to provide public spaces — which are sorely lacking in Courtenay, in fact, non-existent — are proven tactics which bring a sense of community, which in turn reduces crime and vandalism. The city of Bogota in Columbia is a prime example. People relate better to other people than to cars; it is humanity that makes a society, not vehicles.
Money spent on initiatives to bring people into closer connection to one another, like riding bikes rather than being sealed off in vehicles, are proven to foster healthy cities and communities. Huge cities in Europe stand testimony to this, and Vancouver is reducing car use yearly with its investment in bike-riding.
I know it’s often difficult for North Americans to shift their thinking from almost veneration of vehicles, as our history has been based on it, but we can use our brains and see how the world has changed, and recognize that it cannot continue to be run on those old ideas, which are much flawed.
And surely no one can believe that we can continue in that self-destructive fashion for much longer. I think Courtenay council is making steps (albeit small ones) in the right direction.
I want to live in a town where there are neighbourhoods with people riding bikes and walking on the streets, talking to one another, rather than roaring around in polluting cars and trucks with no opportunity to connect to one another.