Cyclists likely avoid Chemainus Road because of danger to bikes
I feel that the article by Don Bodger of Aug. 30 titled “Lack of consultation on Chemainus Road” gives a one sided view of this municipal project. The business owners quoted in the article complain of a lack of consultation, but there was in fact a community open house hosted by the municipality on Aug. 13, 2019. At the open house, residents were asked to give feedback on the proposed road improvements. Those who attended the open house were strongly in favour of the proposals.
Don Bodger’s article has several quotes about the bike lanes that will be part of the upgrades to Chemainus Road. The quotes seem to say that bike lanes are not required because few cyclists are currently using this road. I am not sure what evidence supports this contention, but as a cyclist who does ride into Chemainus along this road I would suggest that many cyclists are put off by the dangerous proximity of cars and bicycles along the road, along with excessive speed of cars. Cyclists tend to avoid such dangerous routes.
Chemainus is an example of a community where cycling could be a much bigger part of the transportation scene. Amenities are close together, there are no big hills, and there are no busy highways. But many potential cyclists are put off by the risks of cycling. If safe infrastructure is put in place, cyclists will use it. What is “safe”? Well, it means clearly designated cycle lanes, or better still, fully segregated cycle lanes. These lanes must take cyclists into the areas they wish to go to. Safe infrastructure means that you would be comfortable in letting your children use it.
I believe that the engineering department of North Cowichan has a good plan for Chemainus Road. I personally would like to see much more investment in cycling infrastructure, but I am realistic about what is possible in the current age of the automobile. We are all car users today, but in future decades we will have to make room for more efficient transportation options.