Letters March 23: Thanks to Jack Lohman; ongoing bike-lane disasters

A special thanks to Jack Lohman

I had the pleasure to work with Jack Lohman when I was on the Royal B.C. Museum Foundation Board and now as a chair of the Bateman Foundation.

Jack always talked so passionately about the importance of all our cultural institutions, and he brought such incredible creativity and innovation to RBCM.

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Jack so deeply wanted to gather and properly protect the most critical aspects of B.C.’s history, and there were no areas more important to him than securing and showcasing the histories relating to the Indigenous and Asian communities.

This might not be evident to the public based on some of the very public debate around his departure, but I just want people to know that his work around diversity and reconciliation was sincere and well-meaning.

There will be a ceremony one day to open the new RBCM building and it will be the true architectural gem of Victoria. I am not sure if Jack’s name will be mentioned then, but many us connected to RBCM will know that the new facility was made possible in large part to Jack Lohman’s courageous and determined leadership.

Thank you again, Jack, for all you did!

David Schneider
Saanich

Countryside is gone, Dallas Road is urban now

What has happened along Dallas Road, though well-intentioned, is quite tragic from my point of view.

An area that was as close to “country” as you get in this city has been urbanized, paved, partitioned by activity, fenced off and ordered within an inch of its life.

What were once open patches of grass, giving way to scattered and densely wooded copses of natural vegetation, around and through which people could wander following their own inclinations, and at night look up at the moon and the stars and the glimmer of Port Angeles, has been transformed for what is seen as the greater good.

That is, more people on more paved byways, designed for different transportation modes, fences regulating and directing access, and psychologically cutting off visual access to the bluffs, trees planted in rows, monotonous clumps of grasses, also in rows, and in clearly defined beds. And signs telling us what we can and can’t do.

Mother Nature tamed by municipal decree.

The zeitgeist of the bluffs has been violated, wildness tamed and turned into a runway for cars, joggers, strollers, bicycles, dog walkers and more and more people on more and more vehicles.

I do suspect that this type of landscaping is highly regarded these days and is sure to win awards and plaudits.

All to the good, I am sure, but I mourn the quiet escape from the crowds, the freedom to meander along a different route on each visit, the unhurried feeling, the softness of grass rather than hard asphalt or concrete beneath your feet, and at night, just the dome of the night sky … with no light pollution to disturb the life cycles of flora and fauna.

Tom Palfrey
Victoria

Harbinger of hope or doom?

I live on Harbinger Avenue, which T-bones onto Richardson Street at the north end and Fairfield Avenue at the south end.

For 20 years, I have cycled east on Richardson on my way to work at the university, and west on my way home. In all those years I have never had an accident, not even a near miss.

Richardson accommodates cars, trucks, buses and cyclists easily. It’s just a matter of everyone using their road sense. Even in lousy weather, I enjoy my commute.

If Richardson becomes an all-ages-and-abilities bikeway, I’m not so sure I will enjoy my commute any more. Combining inexperienced cyclists with intermittent traffic is asking for disaster. For safety’s sake, I may have to turn south to Fairfield as an alternate route.

Wendy Davies
Victoria

A translation of ‘consultation’

As one who cycles about 15 kilometres daily on the streets of Victoria, I understand the issue of safe cycling.

I also understand the need for consultation with the public before permanent changes are made to the street system. After all, these changes mean disrupted traffic flow, neighbourhood disturbance, increased pollution and emergency vehicle access.

I have finally understood what Victoria city council members mean when they say they have consulted with the taxpayer.

This is what they mean: “Please select one of the following two (or three) options for new bike lane corridors. All options are designed to impede traffic flow, to divert traffic from main arteries onto residential streets, to efficiently frustrate and confuse cyclists, motorists and pedestrians alike and to provide no overall benefit at all. Please note that there is no option to leave neighbourhoods and traffic flow as they are now, nor to simply use traditional painted lines to indicate cycling routes. The city council, including those councillors who do not live in the city of Victoria, will follow the desires of the Victoria Cycling Coalition regardless of your selection, and will do so with no regard to cost or negative effects on neighbourhoods.”

Gregory Peter Andrachuk
Victoria

You ain’t seen nothing yet, wait for Superior

The Times Colonist has been publishing a deluge of letters and opinions expressing dismay over the city’s plan to insert a dedicated bicycle lane into the currently smooth-flowing traffic on Richardson Street, which is indeed a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.

Yet, our municipal leaders seem so tone-deaf that they are now considering an even more damaging and dangerous intervention onto Superior Street, which currently works well as the main thoroughfare for residents and visitors to access and traverse James Bay.

It is also an effective and safe artery for public transit, emergency vehicles, tourist transportation and other frequent uses that are essential to Victoria’s operation and prosperity.

Why would anyone in their right mind jeopardize this success by clogging it up with the imposition of bike lanes? If you think our mayor and council got it wrong with Richardson Street, just take a look at the fiasco they’re contemplating for Superior.

Robin Farquhar
Victoria

Richardson vote based on wrong info

Re: “Why the Richardson Street bike plan needs rethinking,” commentary, March 16.

A solution in search of a problem. That would partly explain the dismal lack of consultation with Fairfield/Gonzales residents and other “affected stakeholders.” From the very beginning, this has been a trademark of the city’s pursuit of downgrading Richardson Street to a throughway only to cyclists.

On Nov. 3, 2019, the city hosted a poorly advertised walking tour of Richardson. This was not advertised in the Times Colonist, as it was explained to me by city staff that it was too expensive. They only posted a notice in the sparsely distributed Victoria News. The presence of any decent attendance was by virtue of my personal canvassing. Additionally, I have spoken to the operations manager of a waste collection agency, and was told that they were never consulted.

At the conclusion of that walking tour, the residents in attendance were promised “only minor traffic-calming measures.”

Why is it that open houses were held at Oaklands, Harbour Road and City Hall, but not at Fairfield Community Centre, at a time that would have facilitated residents’ attendance? One might only conclude that it was for fear of the level of outrage that would be encountered. Why did the Fairfield Gonzales Community Association not demand such a meeting?

Chris Foord’s commentary mentions that the segment from Cook to Moss streets is atypically narrow. Yes, it is only 29 feet wide.

In this section, the city’s plan is to add parking to the north side of the street, creating a “chicken lane.” Not only will it create a narrow lane for cars and bicycles to compete for, but also create, at least, 10 blind driveways with dangerously reduced sightlines.

This reality was never reflected in the graphic material used to promote the plan. Instead, it shows a wide boulevard with plenty of room for all. I contacted city staff to point this out, in December 2019, but the material was never corrected.

This, and the claim that thorough consultation was made, was then presented to council at a committee of the whole meeting and to a vote, in July 2020. Council voted on a misleading proposal.

Brian Kendrick
Fairfield

Protest the changes coming to Richardson

Once again, Victoria city council made a rush decision on the Richardson Street realignment, which they won’t revisit like many of their other plans.

All the residents who will be affected by this rush decision should get out and protest as soon as any equipment shows up. Start by placing tents in front of heavy equipment. This would get some attention and maybe some changes.

What road is next? Richmond Road? I do not live in Victoria, but travel to my mother’s house on lower Richmond up to five times a week. Stop the insanity — bikes and cars can share the roads.

Steve Harvey
Saanich

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