Put road on a diet

Our roads are for the use of all citizens – 43rd Ave. is an important thoroughfare, not simply access to businesses

Regarding the article “Road Plan Lines Street with Opposition.” Our roads are for the use of all citizens to access all areas of the city – 43rd Ave. is an important thoroughfare, not simply access to businesses.

The recent protest by 43rd Ave business owners is a classic NIMBY protest. They try to distort issues with inflammatory language like “suicide lanes” (have any suicides occurred on Vernon’s other left-turn lanes?) and “We Are the Boss” (wrong – citizens in general are the boss).

This section of road has seen declining use by automobiles for some years now. Vernon staff estimate that the vehicle load can easily be carried by two lanes. A center left-turn lane improves access to businesses, it does not restrict access. Turns by long vehicles will remain unaffected: the width of the road will remain unchanged, so how would supply vehicles suddenly be unable to make turns?

Business owners even invoke “common sense,” as though the creation and maintenance of ugly, noisy, smelly, pollution-addled, vehicle-dependent, commercially-oriented communities is common sense. Does “the strip” (Harvey Ave) in Kelowna make common sense?

Business owners claim that bike lanes serve no purpose in a commercial area. Bikes are not just recreational toys. Bikes are tools for transportation that will reduce traffic congestion, decrease smog and particulate pollution, and improve citizen health. Neighborhoods benefit by having safe bicycle routes to all areas of the city, and particularly through difficult areas like 43rd Ave. Continuity is the key – bike lanes help cyclists get through an otherwise hostile area, allowing the entire city to benefit.

If those protestors wanted to see what good cycling infrastructure can do, they should bring their “Shame on City Hall” signs to Kalamalka Road, where they would see dozens of bicycles in any given hour – right through a commercial district.

Congratulations to city hall for such fine planning there. City council and staff take a broad view to the viability of our community, as opposed to the single-minded interest of a business owner.

City staff are transportation professionals who research all available transportation options, measure traffic volumes, quantitatively assess risk and traffic pattern hazards, and make the most reasoned recommendations possible, all for the benefit of the community at large.

Mayor and councilors, do what’s best for the community at large, and put 43rd Ave on a “road diet.”

Ward Strong