Not-so-active planning

Editorial

Wednesday, July 17 2019

The Transportation Ministry is playing hard to get when it comes to safe shoulders for cyclists on Gabriola roads.

MOTI staff are saying that the roadwork planned for this August does not qualify under the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Islands Trust to have shoulders added to roadways which are on the approved Islands Trust cycle plan - when roadways are redone on Gabriola.

The Ministry says this is because this work is ‘maintenance’ and not ‘upgrades’.

Regardless of what this is classified as within the MOTI model, the argument from the Trust is there are paving crews coming to Gabriola, and sections of road which are being worked on are part of the overall cycle plan. Not all 13km, just the sections of Taylor Bay and South roads. It is short-sighted, in the extreme, to not consider having shoulders added to those sections of road. Not to mention, the whole idea being an MOU with local governments is so that when MOTI staff is planning a project, they can have ‘shelf-ready’ plans in place so they don’t have to ask local governments whether any long-range goals should be included in the MOTI tender.

So far, Minister Trevena has not commented publicly on this, all MOTI communications have come back via MOTI media staff. In her introduction to the new Active Transportation Strategy, Trevena states she has first hand knowledge that,  “active transportation can be fun, cleaner, and easier than other options.”

Not if you’re a cyclist on Gabriola roads. 

The Active Transportation Strategy has goals as far out as 2030. But that’s only ten fiscal years from now. Gabriola hasn’t had a major paving project - outside of the Taylor Bay/Ferry hill intersection - in 20 years. There’s no capital project for Gabriola on the MOTI 10-year plan either.

Cycling could be such a better experience on Gabriola. For locals, and for tourists. We’re a gulf island with walk-on access to a major city. This isn’t Salt Spring, or Pender, or Quadra, where the connecting terminals are kilometers from urban areas. This means we have the potential to have many more cyclists (local and tourists) using our roadways, if only we could tell them there was a safe place for them to do so.

It could be an easy win-win for MOTI, the Provincial Government, and most importantly, Gabriolans.

The MOU may not apply to this - though the Trust seems determined to prove that it does. What is clearly missing is a link, between the people putting out these tenders and planning the work - and the people in Victoria creating guiding strategies like the one for Active Transportation.