A section of Metral Drive that has received a ‘complete street’ road redesign This is the kind of bike lanes we need to be building. (News Bulletin photo)

A section of Metral Drive that has received a ‘complete street’ road redesign This is the kind of bike lanes we need to be building. (News Bulletin photo)

Editorial: We must do better for bikes — and people

There is very little accommodation made for people on bikes on our roadways

We must do better for cyclists in our Cowichan Valley communities.

There is very little accommodation made for people on bikes on our roadways, and what is provided is the bare minimum — something we would describe as often totally inadequate.

On rural roads there’s sometimes a white line painted on the side of the pavement designating a shoulder, often only gravel or dirt, where those on foot or on bikes are supposed to huddle out of the way of the motor vehicles roaring past that spew their exhaust over them as they “share” the highway.

Is it any wonder that busy roadways are shunned by almost everyone not in a car, under these circumstances?

And then there’s the bike lanes in our towns. Even these are often only a few lines painted to the right of a car lane, a tiny strip squeezed out between the vehicles and the road’s edge, enough for perhaps one bicycle to move through. And cars frequently veer into these reserved spaces.

Given this evidence of our attitude towards cycling — the attitude we pass down from one car-centric generation to the next — the response towards the City of Duncan’s proposal to install a bike lane on Coronation Avenue shouldn’t have come as a surprise.

But it was still a shock that the project was not met just with disinterest, but by actual ridicule by members of the community. As if it was beyond the realm of possibility that the city should want to offer a safe space to encourage more cyclists to take to the streets.

And well they might. The city, like many of our Cowichan communities, is compact and easily walkable and bikeable is terms of size. It is only our obsession with the car to the exclusion of all other forms of transportation that has led to it being an often hostile environment for anyone who doesn’t want to drive. We can only imagine how many people don’t bike in Cowichan’s towns simply because they are afraid to.

We should be looking at building bike lanes, separated from vehicle traffic and sidewalks for real safety, for all of our city and village streets as improvements are made.

We should also be turning our eyes to our highways and major arteries between communities, building places for people to walk and cycle safely. We should be planning now for state-of-the-art cycling and walking infrastructure from the new hospital area to Cowichan Commons and our established City of Duncan.

It’s not foolish, it’s foresight for building better places to live.

Editorials