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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Summer crowding safety concerns

whistler-village-summer
whistler.com

I wanted to share two experiences of mine at Whistler recently that cause me concern. 

The first: face masks and physical distancing. On the last two walks that I have taken along the entire Village Stroll recently, I was alarmed by the lack of facemasks worn by visitors and the lack of two-metre clearance between individuals and groups. 

On Saturday, July 18, my loose count was that 14 people (seven per cent) were wearing facemasks out of a total of perhaps 200 people that I walked by. On Saturday, Aug. 1, I counted 45 facemasks (nine per cent), but there were probably 500 people that I saw in much closer proximity to each other due to the long-weekend crowds. 

My sense is that not enough people really understand how to protect against the transmission of COVID-19. As a senior, wearing a mask and keeping two metres apart is common sense. But for the other 90-plus per cent, it seems like they are not understanding this yet, which is why, unfortunately, the likelihood of a higher and faster spread of COVID-19 in Whistler and other parts of B.C. appears inevitable. 

Sorry, Whistler, your small signs that say “use of masks encouraged” and the larger “practice physical distancing” signs are simply not working. Can you use some enforcement to get this message across? 

Second: Valley Trail safety. As an avid walker of the paved pedestrian/cycle paths around Whistler, and especially the south Valley Trail, it is very clear that increased activity on summer weekends is resulting in crowded trails and a dangerous mix between families, dog walkers, walkers and bikes (and more and more electric bikes). 

Serious accidents look to be inevitable, considering that many of the younger riders are not slowing down and are cutting downhill corners, passing on blind corners, and essentially not being courteous to other walkers or bikers—especially on the winding and hilly sections of the trails.

Why not make it mandatory that all bikes on Whistler trails must have bicycle bells and, most importantly, have the riders ring their bells as an essential courtesy as they approach walkers or before they pass other bikes? Or perhaps post signs along the trail stating that cyclists must ring their bell as they approach slower bikes or walkers. Something simple like this can only help reduce the risk of a serious accident—a low-cost investment to improve safety. 

My personal solution to both issues is that we have decided not to go into the village or travel on the Valley Trail on weekends, and especially long weekends. Other visitors do not have this luxury, so keeping the rest of the visitors safer should be a higher priority for Whistler in the summer. 

Russ Taylor // Whistler




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