I am writing to express my concern about the current state of the highway bike lanes in our municipality. As an avid cyclist who frequently commutes by e-bike, I have noticed some areas of concern that I believe need to be addressed to promote safety, accessibility, and our shared commitment to active transportation and climate strategy.
Firstly, I would like to highlight the issue of vehicle speeds on the highway, which often significantly exceed the designated limit of 60 km/h. This high-speed environment poses a significant risk to cyclists, including the many families with children who navigate this route on their e-cargo bikes. The absence of radar speed signs along the highway contributes to this issue by not providing drivers with real-time speed feedback. I urge the council to consider the installation of these signs to increase driver speed awareness and enhance road safety for all users.
Secondly, the condition of the bike lanes, particularly regarding their cleanliness, leaves much to be desired. A considerable portion of the bike lanes is covered by dirt and debris, severely limiting usable space and creating potential hazards for cyclists. Given the increasing use of these lanes with the onset of warmer weather, prompt attention to their maintenance is crucial.
The highway provides several advantages for cyclists over the valley trail, including:
On the highway, bikers don’t have to be cautious of children, dogs, or unsuspecting tourists who could unexpectedly halt in the middle of the valley trail. On the highway, everyone is travelling in the same direction, significantly reducing the hazard of unexpected collisions.
Cycling on the highway involves less frequent turns and stops compared to the valley trail. This is especially beneficial for e-biking, as the constant acceleration and deceleration on the valley trail can significantly drain the battery.
Commuting via the highway is much faster. As an illustration, a journey from Forecast Coffee in Function Junction to the village takes approximately 26 minutes along the valley trail, whereas it can be completed in about 14 minutes via the highway.
The highway’s increased width allows for better sun exposure compared to the valley trail, which is often obscured by trees. This difference significantly enhances the comfort of biking, especially considering our colder climate. However, the current conditions on the highway are discouraging many local residents from using this convenient and efficient mode of transportation. Ensuring the highway is a safe and attractive option for cyclists is, in my opinion, integral to achieving our active transportation goals and promoting a sustainable lifestyle.
I kindly request the council to consider taking the following actions: 1. Install radar speed signs along the highway to enhance speed limit enforcement. 2. Regularly clean and maintain the highway bike lanes to ensure they are safe and usable. 3. Evaluate the possibility of reducing the speed limit on the highway to further promote safety for all road users. I believe that these measures would significantly improve the highway biking experience and encourage more residents to choose this mode of transportation.
Eddie Dearden is a Whistler resident and the founder of GNAR, a sustainable home designing company. He wrote this letter to RMOW Mayor and council.