Re: “Province ponies up funding for Government Road trail,” published July 2.
Although the photograph printed in The Chief, with its computer-generated graphics, looks nice, make no mistake, the new construction on Government Road is bad design. Despite its good intentions, the District of Squamish has spent $173,000 to make an acceptable situation significantly worse.
Mixing bicycles with pedestrians is ‘worst practices,’ yet that is what happens time and again in Squamish.
It is well established that mixing pedestrians and cyclists is not progressive design and should be actively discouraged. There is a fundamental misunderstanding by the DOS on how to build bike lanes.
What is being done here in Squamish is very different from what is being done in other cities. The City of Toronto has an excellent website that describes how pedestrians and cyclists should be separated.
Vancouver also has innovative bicycle infrastructure. The University of British Columbia has an excellent resource in its Cycling in Cities Research Program.
The new design on Government Road eliminated the wide shoulder that was ideal for cyclists.
Barriers have been installed and all pedestrian and bike traffic squeezed into a narrow zone. To be sure, this is a non-standard design, with many associated problems. It seems cyclists still have the option of riding on the roadway. However, as it stands now, a bicycle on the roadway would totally obstruct northbound traffic.
With all due respect to Mayor Karen Elliot, the comment that this will “vastly increase safety” is wrong, or misleading at best. The first assumption is that the situation on Government Road was dangerous. It was not, as an absence of fatalities and injuries will attest to. The second false assumption is that the new design is safer. It is not. It is actually non-functional. Even a cursory observation of the actual finished results would be obvious to casual viewers.
The reason progressive cities are moving away from mixed bike/pedestrian routes is the certainty with which this design increases injuries to both cyclists and pedestrians. Pedestrians, strollers, rollerbladers, skateboarders, dog walkers, scooters, etc., are now going to mix with bicycles. innovative design does not have to be expensive, it just has to be well thought out.