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Bike lane reversal was far too hasty

Re: City council’s decision to reverse bike lane project

The Sept. 24 Advocate included an interesting juxtaposition: the article (A2) on the Los Angeles troublesome traffic gridlock problems caused by any closure of a freeway, the local story (A3) about Red Deer residents getting out on World Car-Free Day on Saturday, Sept. 22, and then the item (C1) regarding mixed reactions to the recent decision of city council to substantially set back the just barely completed bike lane project scheduled for review in the fall of 2013.

As a person who walks wherever I can, rides a bicycle and lives within a block and a half of 55th Street, I was very disappointed in council’s decision to pull back on a bold and forward-thinking project that would have moved Red Deer into a more sustainable and livable future.

Why the buckling under pressure from the nay-sayers after only a few short weeks? Why not see the project through to the end of the trial period (only one year)? Why does the movement of gas-guzzling automobiles usurp the benefits of a good environmentally proactive and healthy lifestyle choice?

I believe all those who so quickly negated the logics and reasons for the bike lane project, and those on city council, who bowed almost instantly to pressure from the motorists, missed the mark completely.

This project was bound to have negative reactions to it, along with the positives, however, important ideas are worth giving a fair amount of time to see through, time enough for people to realize that they can use their bikes or feet more often, that their children can ride their bikes to school safely, that lifestyles and levels of health will show improvements … but after a year or two, not two weeks!

My respect and appreciation goes out to those who had the initial concept and determination to proceed with this valuable project, and to those on city council who tried to maintain it even under public pressure to do otherwise.

To those on council who are vexed about the cost of the project: how is reversing it so soon justified?

The setback only adds substantially to the overall costs.

Pete Weddell

Red Deer

How can riding a bike be wrong?

My favourite places in town are where the people are. They gather and chat, smiling — they say, “Hello!: “Hi.”

I catch myself with the biggest grin, pedaling along and waving at other cyclists passing by.

I call my bike Freedom Machine.

As I go, little chants develop on the breath.

Uphill: I am capable, I am independent, I am strong, I can.

Downhill: I am free-wheeling, smooth rolling, flying by.

In winter: I am wind-kissed and weather hardy, here I go.

In traffic: I am steady, I am here, I am in the now.

I never complain about parking. I couldn’t tell you the price of gas.

I can tell you if it is sleet or snow outside, and whether you should wear a sweater.

“Claim your space,” a friend once told me as we rode along a busy highway. I remember those words when I take up a whole lane to ensure my visibility and safety. The cars behind slow or move into the other lane. But the roads are for sharing even if they weren’t really built that way.

“If you don’t claim your space, who will do it for you?” my friend said. I don’t plan to live my whole life defensively, but it is a good point.

Every morning of the school year, I waved to three girls waiting for their school bus on the corner. “Hi,” they’d call. “Hello!”

As the seasons changed, I’m sure I noticed them grow taller.

When they were huddled up in cold, a ring of my bell would perk up their hooded heads. One time as I passed, lights flashing in the dark morning and a balaclava tuque covering my face, one of the children called out, “Are you police?” “No. I’m a teacher.”

I wonder if those girls want to ride their bikes every morning when they’re big. I wonder if they know they can.

Kristen Carlson

Red Deer

 
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