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Letter: Time for Whistler to get serious about active transportation

"Multi-use paths like the wandering Valley Trail don’t cut it when cyclists and pedestrians are not separated."
e-bikes - e-biking Whistler's valley trail
"Sorry, but Whistler’s wonderful Valley Trail is not 'safe and innovative infrastructure' for commuter cycling and does not make Whistler 'a bikeable community.'"

I just received my Resort Municipality of Whistler newsletter (“This May, let’s go by bike”) and was reminded that one of the municipality’s promised “big moves” is to reduce car/vehicle trips to 50 per cent of all trips by 2030. That’s seven and a half years from now.

That’s a great goal, but does the municipality know what percentage of trips are now made by car/vehicle? I can’t find it on the website. Let me guess very conservatively that 75 per cent of trips are made by car. That means replacing at least three per cent of those trips each year by other means, starting now. Does anyone know if we’re on track for that?

That’s a measurable goal, but when I look for other measurable targets to achieve that goal in the “bold moves” all I see is a cloud of uplifting verbs: “increase,” “enable,” “continually improve,” “prioritize,” “scale up,” “engage,” “collaborate.”

After improved transit, vastly expanding e-bike trips is a no-brainer, especially for an active community like Whistler. It’s happening everywhere else in the world, cold and warm places alike, in summer and winter.

So it’s good that Class 1 e-bikes can now go on the Valley Trail, and that some gaps in the Valley Trail are being filled.

But e-biking via the Valley Trail is not viable transportation for the majority of trips. If it were, the Valley Trail would be jammed with commuters. Nor is e-biking with Class 2 and 3 e-bikes on dangerously unprotected highway shoulders.

Sorry, but Whistler’s wonderful Valley Trail is not “safe and innovative infrastructure” for commuter cycling and does not make Whistler “a bikeable community.”

Seriously expanding e-bike use will take safe, dedicated protected commuter bicycle lanes, which do not exist in Whistler. None are even hinted at in the “bold moves” plans.

Multi-use paths like the wandering Valley Trail don’t cut it when cyclists and pedestrians are not separated, pedestrians have the right of way, speeds are limited to 15 km/hr, and cyclists can’t ride through popular destinations like Whistler Village.

The benefits of e-bikes go far beyond reducing GHGs. More e-bike trips mean less congestion, cleaner air, more affordable and equitable transportation options, easy parking, freedom from gas prices, happier, healthier commuters, lower road repair costs and fewer road injuries and deaths. What’s not to like?

It’s time for Whistler to stop stroking reassuring platitudes and seize this opportunity by producing measurable results.

Peter Ladner, Chair, BC Cycling Coalition