Let’s look out for each other — no matter how we get around

Smithers Mayor Taylor Bachrach on doing better when it comes to sharing the road this Bike Month.

Sharing the road means knowing (and following) the rules.

May is Bike Month in British Columbia — a chance to celebrate the humble bicycle as a healthy, efficient and fun way of getting around.

In cities and towns across North America and around the world, the bicycle is being rediscovered, not as sport, but as everyday transportation.

In dense urban areas, travelling by bike is just as fast as by car. It uses less parking, emits zero pollution and doesn’t wear out municipal infrastructure as quickly.

As more people discover the joy and freedom that comes with getting around by bike, following the basic rules of the road becomes ever more important. Bike riders who shirk this responsibility cause friction with other users of our streets and roads, which none of us wants to see.

Unfortunately, a fairly large percentage of Smithers riders still don’t follow the basic rules of traffic: stopping at stop signs, using hand signals and staying off the sidewalk. This has to change.

Likewise, folks in cars aren’t always familiar with how bikes fit into the picture. Smithers is blessed with courteous drivers who look out for bikes and pedestrians, but sometimes to a fault. Riders who are trying to behave as traffic are often waved through intersections even when the drivers clearly have the right of way.

The bottom line: we can all do better.

Transportation planners will tell you that the best way to reduce conflict between people who walk, bike and drive is to provide dedicated infrastructure for each mode. Separated bike lanes are now regarded as the gold standard of bike infrastructure. If you’ve ever ridden on one, you know they’re pretty awesome.

Here in Smithers, the Town has implemented some modest improvements to make our community more bicycle friendly.

In 2012, council created a Bike Friendly Community Task Force, which led to replacing the Town’s old bike racks, implementing a bike route along Third Avenue and extending the Fulton multi-use pathway.

However, none of the improvements to date have included fully separated infrastructure. Sharing our roadways, which we all pay for through our property taxes, will be the norm into the foreseeable future.

I think one of the best parts of living in a small town is knowing that your neighbours are looking out for you. Let’s follow the rules and look out for each other — no matter how we get around.

 

Mayor Taylor Bachrach