SALTAIR CYCLISTS AT RISK ON CHEMAINUS RD
By Peter W. Rusland of the Chemainus Valley Courier, September 2016 Edition
SALTAIR – folks in Saltair are demanding proper bike and pedestrian lanes along Chemainus Road to allow safe access to alternative transportation.
Jason Wilson of Saltair In Motion Group is angry, bike and walking lanes have been studied, and are a part of Trans Canada Trail plans, and are shown as necessary in Saltair’s 2005 Official Community Plan, but the OCP’s shoulder lanes “have been ignored for over a decade,” he said.
With no government action, residents take big risks along the five -kilometre stretch between where North Cowichan’s lanes end and Ladysmith’s start.
Wilson explained Chemainus Road’s northbound shoulder lane is not a real bike-pedestrian lane but a painted shoulder that’s crumbling and lousy with deep potholes.
“The southbound lane has nothing, not even a painted line”. So some riders, walkers and scooter drivers illegally head south in the northbound lane.
“Saltair should have the same safety structure provided as North Cowichan and Ladysmith’s,” Wilson fumed, citing the 2002 Chemainus Cycling Study calling for lanes.
The planned Trans-Canada Trail along Chemainus Road is “designated, but not complete. We’ve got a glaring need. It’s been put on the back burner”. “Our community can’t safely walk or ride along Chemainus Road because there are no shoulders and we can’t access our community safely”.
He’s also puzzled why a recent bike rodeo planned for Chemainus Elementary School students was suddenly scrapped by school administration.
However, adult cyclists made the perilous ride through Saltair to the school in Chemainus “as is our legal right and to draw attention to how difficult it is for us to share the road.”
Wilson shared his safety-lane concerns with the Cowichan Valley Regional District board in March 2016. He explained how a female cyclist was hit on the Chemainus Road stretch – also used by industrial traffic – in July 2015, then airlifted to hospital. Still no action!
“It’s like we’re second-class citizens. It’s like a ghetto town here,” he said.
“Any upgrades to roads should have concessions for cyclists and walkers, so we move away from being a car-centric community.”
Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA and avid cyclist, Doug Routley agreed. “Chemainus Road is terrifying at times.” You’re in single file but there is nowhere to go, and tight bends with no shoulders.” His pending private member’s bill could establish a one-metre gap law as a minimum passing distance between riders and vehicles. “It could be a death sentence to a rider but not to a driver. Right now the law is the rider must be as far to the right as practicable. Its absolutely a non-motor vehicle user issue,” said Routley
Meanwhile, cyclist and Area G Saltair Director Mel Dorey was sorry to say Minister of Transportation Stone may simply have to have staff study Saltair’s lane needs. “Some people say there are 17,000 people in Chemainus, Ladysmith and Saltair who would use them, including kids going to school. There is a need. “The transportation ministry often say they just don’t have any money, but it would be great for our area in economic development for restaurants, B&B’s and the safety of local residents,” he said.