Bike lane petition expresses public concern
I would like to thank the many people who took the time to sign our petition, and leave comments regarding the bike lanes in Red Deer. This petition was an attempt to voice our opinion to city council and have them look at what has happened and evaluate how the whole bike lane issue came about.
After hearing from a lot of friends and acquaintances about the bike lanes, and experiencing some traffic congestion myself, I decided to do something and organized a petition. As of this week we have reached nearly 3,100 names on our petition with very little promotion and mostly word of mouth. I thought we would get some of our friends and a few dozen signatures. However, I quickly realized how unhappy people as a whole were with the lanes and more importantly how this decisions were made.
If you read the many comments on the petition, most people were unaware of the pilot project and how much money it cost. Some will argue that it was promoted well and people should have known. But the simple fact, from many comments on the petition, is that people really didn’t know much about it.
The bigger issue I have with council (the bike lane program is just a symptom of the issue), is the lack of restraint by this council when spending our tax dollars. As just a few examples: the overspend on the painting of the water tower, the excess spending on the museum display ($1 million), the excess downtown beautification, the Ross Street patio, the excess Taj Mahal city yards (across the street from a scrap yard and slaughter plant), the proposed $1.2 million on a skate park, Veterans park (across the street from a beautiful city park), and the bike lane project. City council needs to slow down with the special pet projects they are doing.
Another thing I would like to clear up is our petition. Some council members have suggested to me personally that I have been promoting violence with the petition. If you read the petition, nowhere in it does it tell anyone to throw things at bikers or harm anyone in any way. I do not support violence in any way and the intent of the petition was not to start riots! The petition was designed to give a voice to so many people who felt upset about the project and how the decisions were made. The petition has no legal strength, it is not scientific, it simply was a tool to communicate to council that people were upset. The good thing about it is it worked to a certain extent. The best result of the petition is people who lost their parking in front of their house will have, for the most part, their parking restored, as well congestion on 55th Street will be fixed.
It is important to note that I do not in any way dislike bikers, or bike lanes, and I advocate exercise as I do so regularly myself. We have a wonderful trail system and excellent sidewalks that bikers can legally use.
The bigger issue is the money spent at this time and the relatively high taxes we pay in Red Deer to fund these special projects. I am glad council took the steps, although by a small margin with a vote of 5-4, to rectify the issues the people have spoken about. I am also glad people have become involved and hopefully they will be involved more in the election next October.