Letters March 26: Europe has bike lanes figured out; Telus building offers architectural hope

Cycling lessons from Copenhagen

Re: “Better bikeways move our city forward,” commentary, March 24.

There have been many negative letters recently regarding Victoria’s bicycle network plans. I am a retired, senior citizen who has lived and worked in Victoria for more than 40 years.

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I am a proud owner of an automobile, love riding my motorcycle, and am a keen cyclist. In general, I am not a supporter of the current City Hall and its policies (Beacon Hill camping, reduced police services, drug usage encouragement, densification and reduced green-spaces, etc.). However, I do strongly support the development of a bicycling network.

I have travelled extensively around the world, and have always been impressed by northern Europe’s incredible network of bicycle paths both between and within their cities.

A recent, excellent documentary on the Knowledge Network, Liveable Cities — Copenhagen, highlighted the forward thinking of city planners in the 1960-80s, when American-style proponents of the automobile were proposing numerous freeways in Copenhagen.

Instead, the city initiated a long-term plan to promote bicycling and pedestrian streets. In the 1960s, Copenhagen had virtually no pedestrian streets or cycling paths.

Today it has more than 400 kilometres of bicycle paths, and the pedestrian shopping districts are far more successful than the far-flung automobile-centric new shopping centres, many of which are on life support.

Initially, the naysayers and doubters in Copenhagen were vocal and strongly supportive of an automobile-centric transportation system. Sound familiar?

Today, the pedestrian malls and bike lanes enjoy overwhelming public support, and usage. Naysayers are few and far between.

Copenhagen has a population of over 1.3 million, and a similar wet maritime climate as Victoria. The population of retired senior citizens is large and growing. Their challenges in the past have been similar to those of Victoria today.

I heartily encourage city planners to continue with their bicycle network planning and implementation. Our children and grandchildren will be glad of the forethought shown.

Now, if we could only get someone to co-ordinate the traffic lights on Douglas and Blanshard streets, so that drivers don’t have to stop at every intersection, perhaps we will have made some progress.

Peter Davis
James Bay

Pedestrians, cyclists can learn to share

In many cities around the world, the cyclist/traffic problem has been solved by allowing cyclists to use the pedestrian walkways where designated cycle paths cannot be constructed because of space restrictions.

Even in city-centre Tokyo, that seems to work well with appropriate tolerance from both pedestrians and cyclists.

It probably wouldn’t work in the city centres here, since too many cyclists are practising for the Tour de France and have little tolerance for anyone in their way.

However, it might work in the suburbs, where pedestrians are almost non- existent.

On a street such as Shelbourne, for example, the walkway seldom has more than one pedestrian per kilometre, but one cyclist per kilometre can totally destroy the traffic pattern.

Perhaps we could try it on streets where a cycle-path isn’t possible by selectively marking walkways where bicycles are permitted but making it clear that pedestrians have priority?

Alec Mitchell

The minority rules the majority

I’m assuming that when the Times Colonist receives many letters on the same subject, like the changing of Richardson Street, it prints more of the majority opinions, than the minority.

That would be the common-sense and fair thing for any newspaper to do. According to Ray Straatsma’s recent commentary, though, the majority of letter-writers are wrong, they just don’t like change, they don’t like their driving habits adjusted.

Victoria has become one of many cities along the Pacific coast where the minority rule the majority.

Bob Beckwith

No more bike lanes, set other priorities

Re: “Better bikeways move our city forward,” commentary, March 24.

For many of Victoria’s citizens, enough is enough on bike-lane expansion.

Firstly, the name in of itself is misleading and inaccurate. They are most assuredly not “all ages and abilities” bike lanes. They are not safe — two-way bike lanes on one-way streets? My nine-year-old grandson will not be riding on them.

With the worst public health crisis in a century raging, a devastating opioid crisis, as well as chronic homelessness issues in Victoria, this council should not be wasting millions of dollars on bike lanes, period.

Public support for this kind of government largesse is marginal at best. Fewer than 10 per cent of commuters to the city even use these bike lanes. The bike lane expansion on Vancouver Street is a highly unpopular, unsafe waste, creating major motor vehicle congestion on Quadra and Cook streets.

Ray Straatsma suggests opposition to bike lane expansion is an endorsement of the “status quo,” but that is just not so. He openly ridicules the automobile user as coming from a “perch of privilege.”

Look at the bike lanes and see who is actually using them. Talk about a perch of privilege. Special infrastructure, with no financial support from cyclists, to support who? Certainly not the majority of citizens of the city, who every day make their opinions known.

No more bike lanes.

Let’s have something we actually need, like a new aquatic centre, for everyone.

Robert Jarvis

Fairfield community had an open house

A recent letter said that no open house regarding the Richardson Street proposal was held at the Fairfield community centre.

This statement is incorrect. The Fairfield Gonzales Community Association had an open house on Monday, Nov. 4, 2019.

Vanya McDonell, co-executive director
Fairfield Gonzales Community Association

New Telus building offers hope for Victoria

The recent article and picture of the proposed Telus Ocean building gives me hope for Victoria. Victoria wants to be a progressive city and is certainly doing this with the “bike lanes.”

They have not done the bike lanes quite right, but it is in the right direction.

It is shocking to me that there is a lack of kudos and support by city council and the public at large for this iconic structure in our downtown. Victoria badly needs some great modern, eco-sensitive and sophisticated architecture. We have an opportunity to do this right now on several fronts.

The Telus Ocean building, for one. Other opportunities include the Maritime Museum of British Columbia. This project is of national significance and should not be in land-locked Langford.

The other imminent and needy project is the Greater Victoria Art Gallery. These projects can make an important architectural, historic, and long-lasting effect on Victoria.

However, a prominent location such as on the water’s edge in the Inner Harbour would be best, at least for the maritime museum. The Northern Junk location would be ideal. Several good-quality restaurants should be integrated into the projects on the water’s edge as well as an adjacent bike and walking path. This will allow more people, including tourists, to enjoy our fine waterfront.

Condominiums on the waterfront are fine, but what about those who do not happen to own one? I am sure significant seed money from the province and federal government is available for significant cultural projects of this nature.

The architecture must be avant garde, unique and of the highest quality. Victoria in general should not copy the architecture of old when new buildings are erected.

If they do this, as some city consultants recommend, the result will simply look cheap and somewhat reminiscent of Disneyland.

Liam L. Ritchie
Oak Bay

B.C. is not ready to reopen

It’s hard to understand how B.C.’s recent decision to ease COVID-19 restrictions can be based on medical science.

Sure, we’d all like to get out from under the virus, but B.C. is Canada’s most infected province, and our rate of new infections is the highest that it has been in more than two months.

Less than two per cent of British Columbians have been fully vaccinated, even as the more contagious, more deadly variants of the virus spread throughout the province.

Many other nations have proven that it’s a false hope to prioritize economic well-being or public sentiment over containing the virus, and that premature reopenings invariably result in needless suffering and death.

Personally, I think British Columbians would be far better served by few more months of political resolve and restrictions, rather than a litany of heartfelt condolences.

Mike Ward


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