The Urbanite – Jon Liedtke – July 31, 2014
Why are so many bike riders dissatisfied on city roads, bike lanes, paths and dedicated areas?
Why are so many drivers upset with bikes, e-bikes and other alternative methods of transportation?
Why is it in Windsor with hundreds of kilometres of alternative transportation trails, that so many people, on so many sides of the issue, are wanting something entirely different than what is being offered?
The answer is actually quite simple: residents don’t care and don’t demand it.
City council, lead by the mayor, sets its priorities based upon what residents demand. There isn’t a shadow government that surreptitiously decides what initiatives the city will embark upon.
There are 10 members of council, lead by a mayor, who collectively decide upon what they think is best in the interests of their constituents. Up until this point, their constituents haven’t made it clear that bike paths and alternative methods of transit are a priority.
And while this column may appear to be a condemnation, there are many groups and initiatives to commend: the City of Windsor for expanding bike trails throughout the entire city and into the county; Essex County for expanding numerous trails through similar initiatives; Bike Friendly Windsor Essex, The Windsor Bicycling Committee and other community groups advocating bike interests; and, of course, the community members who are vocally demanding better bike and alternative transportation trails.
The crux of the issue is safety, and as it currently stands, biking in Windsor is downright dangerous. While many roads in the city have dedicated bike paths, there are also many areas where bikes are legally required to drive on the road unsafely.
Driving on the road can be downright terrifying depending on where you are in the city and what the amount of traffic is.
What is required, not only in Windsor, but in all cities, is dedicated bike paths, separated by a physical barrier, which can provide protection to vulnerable bike riders.
While automobiles have to pass rigorous safety certifications to ensure that the body is structurally sound and airbags deploy efficiently and quickly, bikes are unprotected upon impact.
Simply put, cities need to do far more to protect bike riders. Aesthetically speaking, dedicated and separated bike paths can enhance a city and provide greenscaping spaces in urban centres.
Undoubtedly, there’s a large contingent of Windsorites who have observed that while either biking or walking down the riverfront, pedestrians and bike riders seem to ignore, whether willfully or otherwise, which trails are for which method of transportation.
It is as dangerous for bikes to venture out of bike paths onto pedestrian paths as it is for pedestrians to venture onto bike paths; one isn’t intended for the other. It’s time that bikers, pedestrians and Windsor Police Service start to address this very serious issue of public safety.
The way Windsor deals with bikes and alternative transit is broken and it’s time that we as residents demand better.
Until our politicians and council candidates understand that residents want better infrastructure for alternative transit it’ll never arrive.
LETTER: Alternative transit is broken in Windsor (archive.org)
Jonathon Liedtke is the managing editor of The Urbanite, Windsor’s alternative newspaper. He is also a member of Windsor’s “Punk with Horns” band The Nefidovs, and as such, is committed to enhancing and sustaining the arts community.
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