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Letter: Slow down—the Valley Trail is not a highway

"The Valley Trail was designed and built as a multi-use trail before the e-bike existed."
WhistlerValleyTrailRainbowPark
Whistler's Valley Trail system was not built for commercial use or for e-bikes, writes a local this week. Photo by Tourism Whistler/Justa Jeskova

It’s time to limit bike access on the Valley Trail. We can pretend that this multi-use trail is a safe alternative for getting around Whistler, but with the patrons of e-bike tour companies using these paths as freeways and weaving around its pedestrians as gates, a simple walk can be life-threatening. The Valley Trail was designed and built as a multi-use trail before the e-bike existed.

On Saturday, Sept. 10, my friend and I were walking from Lorimer to Rainbow Park when a swarm of e-bikes came flying up behind us. We turned to see a black bike armada descending upon us. We quickly jumped to the side of the trail, leaving half of the path open for the e-bikers. One would think it obvious that the bikes would use the open lane to pass us, but apparently it was not that obvious, as they headed straight for us rather than taking the open lane. There were 20 of them.

This trail system was not built for commercial use. The aforementioned tour company group was totally lacking in awareness. After endangering our lives, we watched the 20 bikers gather at Rainbow beach and proceed to ride all over the dewy lawn, tearing up the grass and turning it into a muddy mess for the sunbathers. Two more bikes swerved past us, and we noticed the congratulatory sign posted on the trail. “FREE Bike Parking,” the sign announced! Are you kidding me? These entirely clueless, life- endangering [e-bikers]—and let’s be honest, all the bikes that are speeding—are then rewarded for their negligent behaviour with free parking. I would suggest that the owners of the e-bike and bike rental companies build and bear the cost of their own non-pedestrian trail system before they kill someone.

A few weeks ago, I saw a daycare class of four- to five-year-olds holding hands and walking down the trail. Out of nowhere, a dozen bikers flew by, barely missing the children. It is only a matter of time until a 50-pound bike with a 150-pound rider strikes someone. Will it be you or me, your friend or spouse, or a child that will be maimed or possibly killed?

Let’s deal with this today! Slow down! The Valley Trail is not a highway.

Inge Flanagan // Whistler