Letters Feb. 23: Stop Goose blame game; drug use dangers; decline of Beacon Hill

Goose a multi-use trail, so stop the blame game

Re: “Trail-widening great, but let’s start with etiquette,” commentary, Feb. 18.

Let’s start with a transparent assessment of the situation and stop the finger-pointing and counter-productive blame game.

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The Galloping Goose is a multi-use trail: pedestrians, cyclists, e-bikes, rollerblades, horses, runners and so on. Multi-use. So can we dispense with the whining about “aggressive cyclists and high speeds” as the singular culprits of bad etiquette on the Goose?

How many times have I and others cycled by pedestrians after a vocally courteous “on your left” only to see that the pedestrian(s) has their ears plugged with earbuds making them completely oblivious to bikes and other trail users?

What about the pedestrians with their dogs on extended leashes spanning the trail who can’t make the effort to reel the dog closer to make way for passing trail users? What about the apparently blameless pedestrians who walk three and four abreast on the trail and make no effort to move to one side of the trail to make room for cyclists on the other side?

How ’bout the pedestrians who respond to a call of “on your left” or the ringing of a bell by turning around and standing, frozen in their tracks as if they are looking at a mirage?

And then there are the those who, heeding recent misguided advice, choose instead to walk on the left side of the Goose, against oncoming pedestrian and cycling traffic! All of this behaviour on the part of pedestrians has “a real potential to injure someone.”

The Goose is a multi-use trail and etiquette is a shared responsibility. As for the comment that Victorians are supposed to be the “polite ones” I can attest that over my 40 years cycling around Greater Victoria that there are plenty of cyclists who make a point of being polite, courteous and respectful to non-cyclist users on this trail and elsewhere.

Speaking as one who has cycled from Victoria to Los Angeles, California, as well as in Europe, Asia, Africa and other regions in Canada, please don’t get me started on who has the upper hand when it comes to politeness.

So let us dispense with this exercise in comparative politeness!

Everyone needs to make the effort to be more respectful on the Galloping Goose — including pedestrians. As for the bizarre notion that bike infrastructure on city streets would bring on the day when “cycle commuters don’t use the Goose at all” I would merely say that there are cyclists here who have been riding these trails well before it was even named the Goose.

So rather than hoping to expunge cyclists, why don’t we improve our public transportation, add more sidewalks and dedicated walking trails so that “pedestrians don’t use the Goose at all”?

Of course, this is an equally ludicrous endgame!

Instead, let’s begin with all users sharing responsibility, respecting the fact that the Goose is a multi-use trail and stopping the finger-pointing and blame game, which seems to be a popular pastime for some.

I offer my whole-hearted agreement on one important point: more education and better signage as reminders to ALL users about etiquette to ensure safety would be welcome and at a cost far less than more pavement and concrete!

Rob Egan
Victoria

There are better places to go for a walk

Re: “Trail-widening great, but let’s start with etiquette,” commentary, Feb. 18.

With 10,000 lovely walking trails and another 10,000 miles of paved sidewalks in Greater Victoria, why would anyone pick the one and only safe, direct bicycle route to and from downtown for a walk?

The Galloping Goose Trail exists due to the volunteer physical labour and advocacy of people riding bicycles. We wouldn’t otherwise have it.

If you’re planning to police public behaviour on the Goose, I wish you luck. And please do something about the ­graffiti.

Cynthia Brossard
Langford

Watch out for those in Spandex

Re: “Trail-widening great, but let’s start with etiquette,” commentary, Feb. 18.

The Spandex-clad cyclists in particular are overly entitled users of the Galloping Goose, speeding, not warning pedestrians of their presence behind us, and on many occasions presenting the middle finger salute if one does not move out of their perceived right of way.

Many people have been on the receiving end of the Spandex cycling crowd’s arrogance on the Goose.

David Morton
East Sooke

Teach students about the dangers of drug use

Re: “Treatment facilities needed before loosening drug laws,” editorial, Feb. 19.

The editorial suggests the governments should spend gazillions of dollars on building and funding treatment centres for the druggies, if illicit drugs are made legal.

“Build them and they will come” doesn’t apply here. How are you going to get those addicted to drugs into such facilities, if they have no intention of being “rehabilitated”?

The claim that “the majority” of those treated in such facilities “are helped to step away from addiction” is not true. I am sure the majority of the public are of this opinion.

Once taking, or “experimenting” with illicit drugs, one has entered a path of no return. The victims are the homeless and destitute in growing numbers we see around us. In other words, whether we like it or not, they are lost souls to the curse of drugs.

Instead of an editorial suggesting a useless solution, why not promote a drug program in the schools, starting in kindergarten, on the dangers of dabbling in drugs?

An aggressive program of having the youth visit those down-and-out victims, interviewing them and spending a night on the street with them on a yearly basis, in the worst of weather conditions?

That is a program that will work, and be less expensive than the one suggested in the editorial.

John Walker
Cobble Hill

We need to stop the use of drugs

Re: “Treatment facilities needed before loosening drug laws,” editorial, Feb. 19.

I suggest keeping street drugs illegal and providing more prescription drugs to substitute them. Providing prescription drugs could and should be used to encourage users to seek treatment. Maintaining the illegal status of street drugs would continue to signal that drug use is destructive and may provide some deterrence to those considering to start down this disastrous path.

I agree that many more treatment facilities are required, but I don’t agree the $27,000 cost of treatment is excessive considering the province is paying about 10 times that amount per hotel room for those that are homeless, many who are drug users.

We need to find ways to stop drug use. Solutions would be cheaper in the long run rather than watching the cycle continue and it would be a lot more humane.

It appears to be a mystery to some that there is an increase in opioid deaths every year, but couldn’t the explanation be fairly simple: that society has accepted more drug use and with it, an increase in crime, policing costs, homelessness and misery.

Wayne Cox
Saanichton

Decriminalization will make things better

Re: “Treatment facilities needed before loosening drug laws,” editorial, Feb. 19.

The provincial mental health and addictions minister requested that Ottawa decriminalize the possession of small amounts of illicit drugs. The editorial objected to the request on two grounds:

“First, if illicit drugs such as fentanyl become more readily available, might that not lead to an increase in overdose deaths?”

“Second, this proposal can only succeed if more sophisticated and intensive treatment options for addicts are set up.”

The editorial goes on to quote: “Research in several European countries including Denmark and Switzerland … shows that decriminalization does not automatically lead to a surge in the consumption of illicit drugs.”

That is the answer to the first objection.

The second objection doesn’t hold up. Decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of illicit drugs will make it easier for the user to seek help, and will free up police resources for other activities. Users will not have to worry about the stigma of a conviction on their record, making it easier for them to find work.

Yes, it would be beneficial if integrated services such as those provided by the Crosstown clinic in Vancouver were more widely available.

That is a different issue than the decriminalization of small amounts of illicit drugs. Let’s cross one bridge at a time.

Robert Shepherd
Saanich

They caused the damage, they should fix it

I have watched the destruction of Beacon Hill Park slowly take place over the many months of lawless occupation of what was once the jewel of Victoria.

I don’t think I’m alone in lamenting the slow decay of our beloved oasis.

Every time I pass the park, new scars appear. At some point the tents will come down (hopefully sooner rather than later) and the full extent of damage will be revealed.

Who will be left footing the clean up and rehabilitation bill? Victoria taxpayers.

But it could be different. Instead, those who stayed rent-free and caused the damage to public property can volunteer their time to help clean up and repair the park as repayment and avoid leaving the rest of Victorians feeling taken advantage of by both the homeless and the politicians who condoned the occupation of Beacon Hill Park.

Cody Todd
Victoria

More diligence and less expedience

A Feb. 19 letter mentioned the “sacrifice” of Richardson Street in the interests of protecting those “few cyclists who do not have the skills and confidence to feel comfortable using it.”

However, even in a subcompact car, a person is still surrounded by 1,200 kg or so of metal and glass while I ride exposed atop my 11 kg bike.

Almost any collision between the two is comparatively disastrous for me. If we assume an equal degree of diligence in the operation of our respective vehicles, there is still ample reason for the city’s taking reasonable steps to prevent such mishaps.

This inevitably requires sacrifice on the part of motorists who are “forced to detour down narrow neighbourhood streets to get expediently home.”

Perhaps they could exercise a little more diligence and less expedience? In any event, the sacrifices made by motorists could be honoured in some way, perhaps by a commemorative statue erected in Centennial Square. I’d contribute.

Murray Stone
Victoria

Buskers remind us of how great we can be

The other day I was driving a shortbus on Government Street in front of the Empress Hotel.

While stopped at the red light, I saw and heard a three-person buskers band performing in front of the fake lighthouse to an audience of one old man, sitting on a concrete bench.

It filled me with joy. One young singer noticed my mask-free smile and returned it and waved. I honked the shortbus horn in response.

Victoria is alive and well.

John O’Carroll
View Royal

Measure ICBC with true competition

While the announced ICBC discounts might please some people, we will not know if rates are fair until we get competition. Only when the insurance market has unrestricted competition can consumers judge if ICBC is meeting their needs.

Why is ICBC afraid of putting their products against other companies offerings? Is it because ICBC uses higher rates on good drivers and low mileage drivers to subsidise lower rates for higher risk drivers, and this shell game would fall apart if the good drivers and low mileage drivers took their business elsewhere?

Only competition will provide the answer.

S.I. Petersen
Nanaimo

Vaccine rollout is not an easy task

Stop the whining about the rollout of vaccinations for COVID-19!

This is probably the most complex health plan that has ever been attempted worldwide with all the associated complications around manufacturing, testing, distribution, transportation and scheduling of vaccinations.

Stop making this whole process into a political football, and instead continue adhering to public health rules and recommendations until the threshold for acceptable levels of vaccinations is achieved.

There is no guarantee of instant ­gratification in life.

Mike Wilkinson
Duncan

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