Letters Aug. 22: Scary bike lanes, perils of burning coal, cardiac wait-lists and more

Wharf Street bike lanes a true hazard

Re: “Lanes on Wharf Street put cyclists at risk,” commentary, Aug. 21.

Like Michel Murray, I am an experienced cyclist; I have cycled the streets of Victoria safely for decades on a daily basis and therefore feel that I can comment with some credibility.

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Everything that Murray wrote is 100 per cent correct. Havoc has been created on the streets of Victoria while Mayor Lisa Helps claims that she is making cycling a safe alternative to the use of motorcars. What is really happening is that cycling has been made more dangerous, purposely frustrating motorists, burdening taxpayers and damaging businesses.

This week in my daily cycle downtown and along Wharf Street to Dallas Road, I was forced to experience the new bike lanes.

I have cycled this route for years using the painted bike lanes — with no problem whatever. Now, I find that as a cyclist I am faced with several dangerous elements, all introduced unnecessarily, well detailed in Murray’s cogent commentary.

One further result of these changes is that occasional and novice cyclists have been encouraged to feel that they are safe.

Let’s be clear: Cyclists are more at risk than they have ever been in this city.

If they use the new bike lanes, they are faced with oncoming bicycles with no room for safely passing or for emergency manoeuvres.

And if a cyclist uses the new bicycle paths he/she has no escape route to avoid pedestrians unexpectedly crossing the path, because the cyclist is hemmed in on both sides by concrete barriers.

Quite apart from the financial madness of this disruption to the city streets, drivers are increasingly frustrated, cars are left idling in very long lines of one-lane traffic simply because one car far ahead can no longer make a simple right turn … and every experienced cyclist knows that there is nothing more dangerous for a cyclist than a frustrated and confused motorist.

And we do nothing while there are plans for the complete disruption of Vancouver Street and its neighbourhood.

The new bike lanes have solved a problem that did not exist, at our expense. The irony is that the new lanes have created far more problems than ever existed before. Enough.

Gregory Peter Andrachuk

Excuses for staying out of the bike lanes

Re: “Bicyclists need to be trained and licensed,” comment, Aug. 18.

I am continually amazed at the justifications I hear from cyclists who are riding on sidewalks and pedestrian-only walkways. The following comments from cyclists illustrate their misguided thinking:

1. When I nearly got hit by a cyclist coming around the corner on the sidewalk, his excuse was that he forgot his bicycle helmet at home.

2. When riding on the sidewalk along Wharf Street, the cyclist explained, with a straight face, that the bicycle lane was closed.

3. Even better was the time a cyclist riding on the sidewalk on Government Street said: “Well, there’s no bike lane.”

4. On the pedestrian-only side of the Johnson Street Bridge, a cyclist said: “But the bike lane is all the way over there.”

5. The best of the worst, however, was a cyclist riding with his son on the West Bay Walkway, who said that the rules didn’t apply to him.

How long do you think a pedestrian would last if they walked in the bike lanes? From experience, about 30 seconds, and this was on a bicycle lane that was closed to cyclists at the time. I took three steps and was told by cyclists, who should not have even been there, that it was a bicycle lane.

If drivers were this ignorant of the rules and laws, or chose to ignore them, they would not be allowed to drive. Cyclists who are not aware of, or choose to ignore, the laws shouldn’t be allowed to ride, either. They should be licensed.

Erie Pentland

Bicycle licence made me feel proud

Re: “Bicyclists need to be trained and licensed,” comment, Aug. 18

The commentary on bicycle training and licensing hit home for me.

When I was a kid in Regina, Sask., many years ago, my father purchased a bike licence for my brother and me.

It was only a few dollars and was good for as long as we owned our bikes.

Insurance coverage was not included, but the bikes were registered at the police station and we felt safe and proud to be sporting a licence.

Apparently, the city, with a population of about 225,000, cancelled the program a few years ago as only 150 to 200 licences were sold each year and the police hadn’t ticketed anyone for not having a licence for years.

E. Kobialko

Young bus passengers do give up seats

Re: “Paying passengers should get seats,” letter, Aug. 16

As a frequent and decrepit rider on Victoria’s buses, I find that young people do give up seats when asked. Usually, they are so deep into their devices or chat they don’t notice the person with the cane in front of them. So I ask, nicely. And they move, nicely.

On the smaller No. 3 bus, they are even better behaved — they automatically move up to the raised section at the back, leaving the lower area for the more needy.

Anne Moon

Use workers’ skills for green manufacturing

Re: “Sidney manufacturer proves big things afoot on the Island,” Aug. 18, and “Industrial land, high-paying jobs at risk as development squeezes,” May 29.

The articles call attention to the importance of providing long-term and well-paid manufacturing jobs close to where workers live, preserving a mix of employment opportunities and a healthy economy.

Whereas the May article provided a hopeful overview of the region’s manufacturing capabilities, the August article creates dismay and even incredulity. As the world works to create a carbon-free future via necessary manufacturing projects that utilize renewable energy and reduce greenhouse gases, Sidney’s United Engineering is proud of a coal stacker.

Those 45 workers (not counting “spin-off” jobs) could be using their considerable skills to create something useful and ongoing for humanity, but instead they are tied to a harmful and dying product.

Industrial land is indeed precious, so if owners and investors want support from the public and governments, they should note that innovative, climate-friendly manufacturing is both encouraged and needed.

We are in a climate emergency, and the many groups and individuals who promote a Green New Deal for Canada offer a plethora of newsworthy manufacturing ideas — maybe the Times Colonist could seek out local employers who are also climate leaders.

As we approach the Oct. 21 federal election, we seek candidates who support a just transition to a low-carbon economy, with good jobs linked to environmental health. This is already clear in the public NDP platform. Will other parties step up as well, or are they too tied to high-risk fossil fuels and to corporate power?

I hope that the Times Colonist will provide educational reporting that identifies those who care about our future and thus provide worthy leadership.

Constance More

We should not endorse the burning of coal

Re: “Sidney manufacturer proves big things afoot on the Island,” August 19.

I can be pleased to read of the success of a Sidney company, but I am appalled to read that their success is supporting the expansion of the coal industry. This, at a time when the world desperately needs to stop burning coal.

Andrew Duffy’s article makes no mention of the environmental or social implications of this project. One would hope that a company like Ramsay Machine Works would try to help build a better world.

Jim Gower

Wait-list for treatment a cause for complaint

I was shocked to find out that 400 people were ahead of my husband for an angiogram/plasty in Victoria.

We contacted the doctor’s office and were told he was on the wait-list, but it would be at least 20 weeks. He had a triple bypass six years ago and, for the past two years, has been having increased angina pain.

After a MIBI test, it was confirmed that he has more blockages. I wrote to the Ministry of Health and discovered that people with hip- and knee-replacement needs were being put ahead of cardiac concerns.

What? People who need these procedures have a low quality of life because of mobility issues. I respect their pain and suffering, but surely someone who has critical cardiac issues is of far more importance. People can literally die waiting.

We were lucky. Due to the fact I contacted the patient quality care office in Victoria, my husband was bumped up the list. Not fair for those who have been waiting so long, but I am not going to refuse a life-saving procedure. I strongly urge people on these cardiac wait-lists to start complaining to the patient quality care office.

Just my humble opinion — complain, it works.

Jaye N. Nilsson

Cotton, paper bags more damaging than plastic

A 2018 life-cycle assessment of grocery bags from the Danish Environmental Protection Agency found that single-use plastic was less detrimental than cotton totes, or even paper bags, when it comes to how their manufacturing affects climate change, ozone depletion, water use, air pollution and toxicity for humans.

Cotton bags must be reused thousands of times before they meet the environmental performance of plastic bags and, the Denmark researchers write, organic cotton is worse than conventional cotton when it comes to overall environmental impact.

According to the report, organic cotton bags have to be reused many more times than conventional cotton bags (20,000 versus 7,000 times), based on the assumption that organic cotton has a 30 per cent lower yield rate on average than conventional cotton, and therefore was assumed to require 30 per cent more resources, such as water, to grow the same amount.

According to BBC news, in 2011 a research paper produced by the Northern Ireland Assembly said it “takes more than four times as much energy to manufacture a paper bag as it does to manufacture a plastic bag.”

Unlike plastic bags (which, the report says, are produced from the waste products of oil refining), paper requires forests to be cut down to produce the bags. The manufacturing process, according to the research, also produces a higher concentration of toxic chemicals compared with making single-use plastic bags.

Paper bags also weigh more than plastic; this means transportation requires more energy, adding to their carbon footprint, the study adds.

Jacques Clau

SNC-Lavalin debacle a disgrace

Throughout my half-century in our great country, I have stayed abreast of politics at all levels.

I have never seen an issue as disturbing as the SNC Lavalin affair. Unfortunately, it is the culmination of years of highly questionable governance by successive Liberal administrations.

Today’s Ethics Committee hearing was startling for several reasons: (a) the Committee voted against hearing from the Ethics Commissioner; (b) it reinforced our knowledge of the depth of manipulation by the PM’s office and by the Finance Minister; (c) it reminded us of the severe crimes (economic and international) that SNC Lavalin is accused of; (d) it convinced me that complicit “Yes” (wo)men on the Committee can ignore troublesome facts to keep in time with their puppeteer; (e) it reiterated that this whole affair should be seen by voters as a national embarrassment.

Thanks, however, for Pierre Poilievre, Charlie Angus, Peter Kent and Elizabeth May for their strong, common-sense contributions, despite being labelled as “partisan” by hitman Steve MacKinnon.

John Stonehouse

Victoria bridge players challenge for world title

Victoria is the bridge capital of Canada — at least by population.

There are many bridge players at various recreation centres and at three thriving duplicate bridge clubs. On any Tuesday afternoon, there are up to 35 tables of bridge at two duplicate clubs. You can play duplicate bridge somewhere most days of the week.

The calibre of players is high because we have Canadian champions that play at the clubs and excellent bridge teachers to help those that want to improve their game.

Six Victoria bridge players won the Canadian Mixed Teams Championship in May — Rhonda Foster, Gerry McCully, Sandra Fraser, Doug Fraser, Jim McAvoy and Connie McAvoy.

They will travel to Wuhan, China, in September to play against the best in the world in the World Mixed Teams Championship.

Congratulations and good luck.

Karen Billett

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