Thank you to the Comox Valley Cycling Coalition for sponsoring Gil Peñalosa’s presentation June 17.
In Gil’s words: We are now facing a “perfect storm” of increasing global warming and environmental degradation, growing traffic congestion, an obesity crisis and other public health concerns, soaring energy costs and slowing economic growth. It is time to go beyond baby steps and take some major leaps. We must reposition walking and cycling as key parts of the solution to these major challenges. As Bogota [Columbia] has shown, creating great public spaces for walking and cycling contributes enormously to creating healthier, happier, more thriving communities.
Some of us came out of Gil’s presentation feeling like the only way we will ever see the changes we are hoping for is to move to Bogota or Copenhagen. We don’t really want to move but we are tired of waiting for the major leaps that are needed to make non-car transportation safe and enjoyable.
Remember when the sign at the Comox Valley Tourist Centre welcomed us to the Recreation Capital (was it of Canada)? What happened to that vision?
To all local Comox Valley politicians, here are some project ideas that will boost the economy by making the Valley a more attractive, more enjoyable and healthier place to live:
• Car Free Sundays on the Dyke Road – allow cyclists and pedestrians to make this a destination and enjoy the natural beauty, view wildlife, and check out the art galleries (local traffic and buses allowed only). Car Free Sundays have become very popular events in many cities.
• Make a cycling and pedestrian trail joining downtown Courtenay to Cumberland. Require landowners along the connector to dedicate an off road path that links to the Village of Cumberland.
• Close Fifth Street to cars from Cliffe to England — use Fourth and Sixth streets as one-way streets along this stretch. Businesses have been shown to thrive along pedestrian-only streets. Imagine Market Days every day.
• Build a separate river crossing bridge for cyclists and pedestrians.
• Upgrade pedestrian crosswalks to make them safer.
• Build comfortable bus shelters with benches that celebrate urban art.
• Request provincial grant money to build pedestrian and bicycle overpasses or underpasses on Cliffe south of 17th Street, providing access to the Riverway Trail.
Gil stated that change doesn’t happen by consensus. He might be right.
Studies have shown that the majority of Comox Valley residents love to recreate and want access to trails and natural areas. So what are we waiting for?