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Letters Dec. 11: We need alternatives to highways; helping someone who needs help; praise for bike valet service

Stop building highways, start planning alternatives Re: “Replace Malahat Highway with wider road,” letter, Dec. 7. We are indeed “engineers of our own ineptitude,” but not in the sense which the author used in his letter.
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Traffic on the Malahat near the summit. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Stop building highways, start planning alternatives

Re: “Replace Malahat Highway with wider road,” letter, Dec. 7.

We are indeed “engineers of our own ineptitude,” but not in the sense which the author used in his letter.

Rather, it is the repeated action of politicians who’ve ignored the lessons of the past 90 years; for example, building more highways leads to more traffic congestion.

This effect, known as induced demand, occurs because roadway expansion appeals to even more motorists while literally driving in more low-density vehicle-oriented sprawl.

Induced demand accelerates dangerous and costly climate change. Vehicle emissions spew both GHGs and health-harming pollutants. The paving-over of life-giving open space – including farmlands and wetlands – creates heat islands that propels global warming into overdrive.

We have limited land, water, and air. Consuming them – without the ability to replenish – for roads, vehicles, and sprawl means less of these essentials in order to live. There is only a narrow band of temperature that supports human life.

Our lives depend on implementing greener transportation alternatives, like rail. Restoring it here for passenger and freight, and seamlessly integrated with other modes like buses, cycling/walking, ferries, taxis, and local trucks, would eliminate the call for an extremely expensive, environment-harming modifications or bypasses, like to the Malahat roadway.

But such a sound move will only come into being if we each implore our elected officials to end the counterproductive cycle of destructive, costly, and futile highway-focused transportation policies and speak up for responsible transportation solutions.

Brendan Read

Victoria

What is compassion? Helping those in need

Something is better than nothing when it comes to helping out.

We are a group of seniors in Langford who don’t have a lot. We live in a trailer park, but we have everything we need.

Some of our neighbours need food, groceries, meals, clothes, blankets, firewood and friendship.

Some of them are disabled and can’t get around very well and a lot of them don’t have cars or a way to get to a bus stop or a grocery store.

When we hear of a family who can’t provide what they need we are happy to help. Right now we are helping a single parent of a young child who is battling cancer and can’t work full time.

We have provided them with everything they need for Christmas, including groceries, presents, toys, warm clothes, and our heartfelt good cheer for as long as they need it.

It makes us feel so happy to be able to do this for them.

We have so much compared to most and it’s not hard to change someone’s life for the better by giving them a hand up.

There’s no better feeling than helping someone who really needs it, and that’s what compassion is all about.

Penny Blewett

Langford

High praise indeed for Victoria’s bike valet

My family has a single car. With two very young kids, we were facing the possibility of getting a second vehicle to help with errands and activities.

Last August, my family purchased an e-cargo bike. At first, I was a little nervous about riding a bike that was longer and larger than what I’d used before, with my kids in it, too, but it didn’t take long to get used to how it works.

I now commute into town every day (rain or shine!) and make use of the City of Victoria bike valet while I am at work. I also bring my youngest son with me, who goes to day care near my work.

I wouldn’t have bought a cargo bike and switched to commuting this way without the bike valet service. It makes a big difference to know that my bike is secure.

Also, as it is a cargo bike, it’s rather large and heavy, and I don’t have another space suitable to store it off the street otherwise. What I’ve also found with time is that I look forward to coming to the valet because the staff are always so welcoming and friendly.

My home is in Saanich. I used to either drive or take the bus in. It takes me less time to cycle in than driving or taking the bus.

Once in a while, I need to take the bus or drive our car in, and I’ve found that cycling is the least stressful way to get into town, and I always look forward to riding in.

I appreciate and support the bike valet and hope to see it continue as an ongoing program.

Ryan Nicoll

Victoria

Money for local roads was simply diverted

Re: “Why are Victoria’s roads so bad and getting worse?” commentary, Dec. 9.

Victoria’s roads have been starved of maintenance funds for many years, and the results are readily apparent.

What is also readily apparent, but left unsaid, is that municipal funds that should have gone to patching and repaving our streets have been diverted to building bikeways and related infrastructure.

While some of that effort has been productive, much of it hasn’t (witness the Richardson Street white elephant). Just think of how many potholes could have been filled with some of those funds.

David Collins

Victoria

Let’s learn from the past, and adopt new ways

There is interesting information coming out of COP28, with only a few days left to address the obvious truths re: historical and recent rapid CO2 and global temperature breaking records, and the necessity to focus on adaptations and mitigations.

We have yet to hear anything about the essential integrity of ecosystems, the protection and conservation of plant, animal, and fungal species, and their genetic diversity.

We continue to base our lives on the status quo of unsustainable and limitless economic growth based on growing fossil fuel use, and less on the survival of humanity itself.

Nature and ecology have so far been ignored at COP28. Can we triple “global renewable energy capacity” and double “energy efficiency activity by 2030”? It’s a tall order. The final COP28 wrap-up statement will be interesting, significant, and historic in portent.

COP28 tells us that that we need to end the murderous business of competition and substitute a healthy planetary cooperation, which honours, protects and conserves nature in all its permutations and combinations.

We must abandon despair and substitute hope for a better life for all of humanity and nature, using the lessons learned from scientific discoveries.

We need a self-sustaining economic system based on quality not quantity, and free of wasteful overconsumption and pollution.

Jane Goodall in her recent book, The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times, gives us four reasons for hope: the amazing human intellect, the resilience of nature, the power of young people, and the indomitable human spirit.

There is now a clarion call to abandon greed, racism, and hubris, and embrace a new moral imperative based on human kindness, love, and compassion for all.

Do we have the wisdom to learn from our past mistakes and adopt new ways of being?

Thor Henrich

Victoria

Law limits liability for drunk drivers

With this festive season upon us it comforting to know that the NDP government has immunized social hosts for damages caused by their drunk guests.

Before the NDP’s no-fault insurance, hosts of private parties bore legal responsibility for damages caused by drunk guests departing their home. This was good public policy as it placed some level of obligation on a host to ensure their guests got home safely and did not drive drunk and injure others.

This obligation is particularly important when hosts are entertaining younger adults and high school students. The NDP introduced no-fault insurance in 2021 and hidden in that legislation is a provision protecting irresponsible social hosts who permit their guests to get drunk, drive and injure others.

The legislation prevents any person injured by a drunk driver from suing a private social host. Before no-fault, hosts had an obligation to be responsible and ensure guests were not driving home drunk and if a guest was drunk to ensure they got home by taxi or other means.

This was good law and good policy as social hosts are best positioned to protect the public in this circumstance. No such obligation exists with no-fault.

As a result of this law, hosts can enable guests to get drunk and wreak havoc on our roads with impunity. What social good this policy achieves is lost on me.

Matthew D. Fahey

Westpoint Law Group

Vancouver

Love the local carriers, but mail costs are too high

I mailed a small package to my sister-in-law in Gibsons. Total cost of the items was about $15 and weighed about two ounces.

I had added $4.53 in stamps at home and thought maybe there might be a small additional cost at the post office.

I was stunned to find out there was an additional cost of $15 because the padded envelope would not fit through the darn slot for “mail” and so it had to be sent as a “parcel.”

If allowed, I could have stuffed that package through the slot and paid no additional cost and gone on my way — a happy customer! I probably could have sent it for less by courier and I definitely will not be mailing anything via Canada Post unless it is a plain envelope that slips through the very skinny slot!

A few years ago, my sister in law mailed three identical packages in padded envelopes to different locations, including one to me. Same postage on each, two to the Island and one to the mainland.

I never received mine but she received it back a month later with “insufficient postage” marked on the package. I asked my local carrier why that would happen — same package, same postage put on at the post office. He replied “Grinchy postal worker?”

Must have been, however, we have always had excellent local carriers and I will continue to leave them something in the mailbox at this time of the year.

Pat Jensen

Saanich

Make bus stops safe for blind passengers

Saanich, the provincial government, and the Human Rights Tribunal all know the new “accessible” bus stops defy logic and principles of universal design.

The Canadian Federation of the Blind has long advocated for bus stops at the curb. Instead, many municipalities are introducing cosmetic changes.

Having to cross bike lanes to access bus stops is not part of universal design principles. It is difficult to imagine how these obviously dangerous stops ever hit the engineering drawing board.

The potential for injury to a blind transit user when using these “floating” stops has risen exponentially. Consequently any discerning blind citizen will have to treat these stops as an inaccessible barrier.

Equitable access to an essential public service, such as a bus, for a blind citizen, with or without a guide dog, is a legislated right.

Any violation shows a wilful misinterpretation of a human right enactment. There is no evidence that riding a bike constitutes a right. Therefore “the idea of balancing rights” is a red herring. There is nothing essential about a choice.

Publicly employed engineers or contracted consultants have an obligation to ensure that essential public services are equitable to all.

Throughout Saanich there are bus stops at the curb, alongside bike lanes, where buses pull in to pick up and drop off passengers. Transit passengers are able to use the system “barrier free” and cyclists are able to clearly see the bus and navigate accordingly.

Curbside stops ensure safe access for all transit users. This practical location ensures the inclusion of people with diverse abilities, avoiding undue hardship and dangerous barriers.

Municipalities, transportation companies and others should establish policies based on inclusive design.

Graeme McCreath

Executive member

Canadian Federation of the Blind

Saanich

Comparing islands, we don’t fare well

The United Kingdom is seven times the area of Vancouver Island, with a population that is 60 times ours.

The island of Java’s area is 12 times ours, with a population 150 times ours.

And even now we can’t control traffic. Where are our town planners?

G.R. Greig

Victoria

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