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Letters May 21: Drug overdose death at UVic; irresponsible cyclists

University of Victoria student Sidney McIntyre-Starko, who died after taking a tainted drug. VIA FAMILY

Colleges, universities should stress the risks

Re: “UVic accused of ‘systemic ­failures’ after student dies from ­overdose,” May 17.

Aside from the fact that the drug taken was a huge mistake in judgment for an otherwise well-cared-for 18-year-old, the current situation with illegal drugs has to be corrected quickly.

All training colleges and universities should enforce attendance at a suitably frank and serious workshop for new students after acceptance at the institution, before their initial attendance in any term.

Similar workshops should be made compulsory, conducted by health and safety workers who have experience in dealing with drug overdoses, at all middle-schools and all high schools in B.C.

Vivid film footage should be a required part of the program. Hopefully some instruction is given to school students now, but the program should be intensified.

Meanwhile, where is our “war on drugs”? We are unfortunately adjacent to a nation infected with the illegal drug problem and the movement of drugs from there and from Mexico and elsewhere is a difficult problem to solve but a solution needs serious work.

Local dealers and those proven of sharing or persuasion to use, need serious and rapid prison terms. This in turn will require more courts, judges, prisons, which our well-intentioned life-saving efforts in the past have prevented, while drug availability increased.

Janet Doyle


Blame the person who provided the drugs

Re: “UVic accused of ‘systemic ­failures’ after student dies from ­overdose,” May 17.

There seems to be little outrage at the person who provided the tainted drugs to the young students leading to an overdose and a tragic death.

This person is out there, and they are, in my mind, a murderer. Surely an example can be made of them. It seems there are few consequences for the sellers of this poison.

Kevin Cuddihy


Take responsibility for your own well-being

Re: “UVic accused of ‘systemic ­failures’ after student dies from ­overdose,” May 17.

While there seems to have been several mistakes made, it is wrong to blame the system and to focus attention away from the real issue.

This young lady should never have taken drugs. Her life was her responsibility.

You would have to be living in a cave not to know that the drug supply is poisoned. That taking any street drug has a high probability of death.

I understand that improvements are needed in the system but let’s not forget, the primary responsibility for this senseless death lies with the young lady herself.

Richard Smith


Buyers, users of drugs are the root problem

Re: “UVic accused of ‘systemic ­failures’ after student dies from ­overdose,” May 17.

It boggles my mind how authorities seemingly ignore drug dealers. Search them out and prosecute them … make them take their own drugs.

They are selling and profiting from illegal drugs and causing injury and deaths. It also boggles my old mind how young adults do not understand the danger of using “street drugs.”

It’s as if they never read a newspaper or listen to the news.

First aid responders cannot be blamed. It is entirely on the shoulders of those buying and using illegal drugs.

How do we as a society educate those who think, “let’s do some drugs tonight.”

Dennis Sorensen

Brentwood Bay

No end in sight for this health emergency

Re: “UVic accused of ‘systemic ­failures’ after student dies from ­overdose,” May 17.

I have followed the stories regarding the death of university science student ­Sidney McIntyre-Starko and would like to pass my condolences along to her brother and parents.

The loss of such a promising young woman is most certainly a tragedy, one that may well have been prevented that day had naloxone been administered in a more timely manner.

It is easy to blame the system that failed to save Sidney’s life but it is perhaps more important to acknowledge that Sidney willingly took drugs provided to her by a “trusted source,” and they turned out to be laced with fentanyl.

The real problem is that there is no such thing as a “trusted source.” The people who manufacture these drugs really don’t care how many people like Sidney they kill because there seems to be no end in sight of the number of people who are willing to believe the drugs they are taking are safe.

It has been eight years since the province declared toxic drug overdoses a public health emergency and yet the business case for manufacturing deadly drugs appears to be gaining momentum rather than declining.

As long as people believe these drugs are safe, or if they aren’t, someone will always be around with a shot of naloxone, the emergency will not be resolved.

Bruce Cline


When drugs are offered, please, just say no

Re: “UVic accused of ‘systemic ­failures’ after student dies from ­overdose,” May 17.

The blame for a tragic student death due to the taking of illicit drugs is not squarely on the University of Victoria. The university has to ensure naloxone kits are available and that staff and campus security are trained in their use.

It is important for parents of kids starting their university journey to make their children aware of drug dangers. If “friends” insist on you taking or sharing their drugs, then they aren’t your friend.

They have to be strong enough and secure enough to just say no. Please kids, just say no and get on with your life and find real friends.

Wendy Darbey


Licences for cyclists, and fines as well

Re: “Imagine if vehicle drivers behaved like some cyclists,” column, May 19.


As a pedestrian I continue to be amazed at the entitled behaviour of cyclists. Not only do they blow by pedestrians on the all-activity shared lanes, they continue to cycle on sidewalks, pedestrian-only walkways and run through crosswalks and stop signs.

When this is pointed out to them they either ignore you or tell you where to go in very colourful language.

In part, I can’t blame them. The Capital Regional District, in ignoring these infractions, has given cyclists permission to do what they want.

I have written many letters to the CRD and their response has been that it is only a few cyclists behaving badly, the majority follow the unwritten courtesy rules. Yes imagine if they said that about vehicle drivers.

I totally agree with Patricia Coppard that something needs to be done before someone gets hurt.

I have seen first hand when a cyclist hit a child in a park in Ontario (where no cycling was permitted) resulting in a severe compound fracture – and not to the cyclist.

I would however go one step further, signs reminding cyclists about responsible behaviour and people modelling good behaviour is all well and good but signs are not enough.

Cyclists, like motorists, should be licensed and fined for infractions.

Erie Pentland


Rules and regulations apply to cyclists as well

Re: “Imagine if vehicle drivers behaved like some cyclists,” column, May 19.

I see some of the issues identified in earlier letters to the editor. But I have two gripes about cyclists.

1. Cyclists don’t appreciate that they are not easy to see by most motorists.

2. Cyclists don’t appreciate that once they are riding on a bike, they are subject to the same rules and regulations as all vehicles.


Cliff Boldt


Calgary’s cyclists could show the right skills

Re: “Imagine if vehicle drivers behaved like some cyclists,” column, May 19.

Patricia Coppard’s column is spot on.

I recently returned from several days in Calgary. While there I walked and jogged each morning on the extensive pedestrian and cycle paths running along each side of the Bow River. In my informal tracking, I estimate at least 70 per cent of the cyclists there do three simple things that keep the trails safe for all users when on a multi-use trail section:

1. Use a bell when approaching a pedestrian to pass

2. Pass a safe distance away (usually about one to two metres)

3. Do not use excessive speed while on the trail.

Most of these cyclists were commuters heading into downtown Calgary.

As a lifelong Victoria resident and cyclist, I also do these things, but find myself increasingly in the minority here.

This is clearly a behaviour that can be encouraged with enforcement, but it starts with individual responsibility.

Cyclists in Victoria, there is zero excuse for behaving recklessly. Drop the attitude(s) and share the trail(s) safely.

Duncan Johnson


E-bike riders are better than regular cyclists

Re: “Imagine if vehicle drivers behaved like some cyclists,” column, May 19.

My experience is the exact opposite.

My wife and I ride our e-bikes every Sunday and have ridden every trail around the lower Island. We usually travel at a speed of 11 to 14 km/h, enjoying the scenery. We have bells on our bikes and signal at every passing.

The occasional e-bike passes us. However, the preponderance of cyclists passing us are the Spandex warriors, pedalling head down, going as fast as they can. Nary a signal that they are passing from any of them. They also ride two or three abreast coming opposite us, narrowing our travel lane. When I ride close to the centreline forcing them to fall back into single or double line, they look at me like I am in the wrong.

I will take e-bike riders over these clowns any day.

Lloyd Jenkins


Cycling safety rules work both ways

Re: “Imagine if vehicle drivers behaved like some cyclists,” column, May 19.

Patricia Coppard brought up some excellent points regarding the safety of all on the multi-use Galloping Goose Trail. I hope some of the ideas of enforcement and signage will come to pass.

She mentioned the one-metre rule motorists must keep between their vehicle and a cyclist when passing.

My experience, as a motorist, is that many cyclists put themselves into situations that violate this rule, especially at intersections, when they hug the curb and slide up beside my vehicle to get closer to the intersection.

This is decidedly dangerous and often frustrating because if I’ve already passed this cyclist, using the one metre rule, now they are violating it while passing me, and I will have to carefully pass them again.

Cyclists should “take the lane” when approaching an intersection where vehicles are slowing to a stop and wait their turn to clear the intersection, like everyone else.

The rule goes both ways: I keep my distance from you, you keep your distance from me.

Louise Jullion


Restrict cyclists to dedicated bike lanes

Re: “Imagine if vehicle drivers behaved like some cyclists,” column, May 19.

Now that the city and others have spent millions of our tax dollars redesigning our city streets to provide many miles of bike lanes, let’s go one step further – bikes in bike lanes only!

Many of our roads are so narrow and in such pathetic condition, it is not safe for a full-size vehicle and a bicyclist to occupy the same space.

The bicyclist is usually moving more slowly than the vehicle operator and is generally in the pathway. As many of you know and may have experienced, this situation can cause a form of road rage and presents a possible accident.

We now need some new “road rules.” Bikes can be operated in the new, safe lanes, built at great expense for bikers only, but they should not be allowed on roads with no bike lane!

How do you monitor this? The same way the police monitor the rules for motorists: the police see a violation, the biker gets a warning or a ticket.

Let’s do this before our next fatality on our roads!

Jim Laing


Consider the subsidies that go to cars

Re: “Municipal funds should not be used for bikes,” letter, May 18.

The idea that subsidies don’t belong for e-bikes made me wonder how the writer and taxpayers feel about the enormous subsidies received by the fossil-fuel industry and personal-car drivers.

Gas and licensing taxes don’t come anywhere near paying for the roads, pipelines, parking spaces, damage from collisions, injury and death, and insurance costs. They are heavily subsidized by property owners, tenants, and non drivers. This has had a huge effect on congestion, land use, sprawl, and climate change.

Why wouldn’t subsidizing a switch to a much more sustainable, compact, healthy, and sociable mode be equally effective? If half the short trips in single-occupant vehicles by healthy people were switched to e-bikes, there would be multiple huge improvements.

Lister Farrar



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