As you may be aware, the City of Courtenay, in cooperation with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure intends to widen Cliffe Ave. between 17th and 21st St. It has come to the attention of the Comox Valley Cycling Coalition that this project has moved ahead to the final design and the acquisition of adjacent private property. We are informed that a joint decision has been taken by MOTI and the City (i.e. the City Engineer) NOT to include cycling lanes in this section of reconstruction. Neither the City Council, nor any member of the Comox Valley Cycling Task Force or the Cycling Public Advisory Committee has been consulted before this decision was taken.
This project has moved ahead despite the fact that members of the Comox Valley Cycling Coalition as well as the Cycling Public Advisory Committee had repeatedly requested to be involved in the early planning stages of major road improvements; we specifically mentioned Cliffe Ave widening as a project we were interested in.
We are told it is too costly, and anyway, it's only 4 blocks, and the rest of Cliffe Ave does not have any cycling lanes either and that there is the Riverway and Fitzgerald Avenue which are more bike friendly. Etc. etc.
* Cliffe Ave is a designated bicycle route in the 2007 Comox Valley Cycling Plan. It is the most important north-south artery through the City and it is important that every opportunity be taken to upgrade this corridor to safely accommodate ALL road users, including cyclists.
* Cycling lanes are proposed for Fitzgerald Ave from 26th to 8th St. This is a welcome improvement, but in no way represents a substitution for the Cliffe Ave Corridor. We need to make it absolutely clear that all users, including cyclists need to be safely accommodated on all major access corridors into the city.
* The Task Force process is ineffective, if a member of the engineering staff can make a critical decision in contravention of the Cycling Plan without Council involvement.
We have not been provided with the design plans, but we are aware of some technical details:
* Land purchase/expansion will be taking place on the east side of Cliffe only (the water side). As cyclists we can attest to needing only a minimal amount of space (1 meter). This was deemed too costly during the land purchasing process.
* A meridian between the street and sidewalk is included in the design, this is the continuation of the "Mile of Flowers" along the other side of the sidewalk.
* We think the required space IS available but is inefficiently allocated to the various uses.
As any good bike mechanic will tell you; Buy well, buy once. Buy poorly, buy often.
There is no doubt that Cliffe Ave. will one day safely accommodate cyclists. We are not only the present, but the future of transportation. The question is, will we pressure our local governments to make the right decisions today, or wait until the slow, dragging political process catches up with reality and has to scramble more taxpayers dollars to make up for the mistakes of the past.
There has been a lack of action since the drafting of the 2007 Comox Valley Cycling Plan (or, even further back, the 1995 Cycling Strategy).
If you want to see the changes actually happen, not anticipate their possibility in 15 years… Join us at City Hall Council Chambers, 4pm , Monday April 12th and together we’ll let the City know we’re serious about safe cycling routes and clean transportation. We will be asking the City to scrap the current proposed budget until such time that plans to widen Cliffe include cyclists.
Thank you for your support!