Letter to the Minister – Active Transportation Infrastructure


www.transportationchoices.ca
coasttrac@gmail.com

13 June, 2019

Honourable Claire Trevena
Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure
PO Box 9055
Stn Prov Govt
Victoria, B.C.  V8W 9E2

Dear Minister Trevena:

We write to seek your support for increased Provincial investment in active transportation infrastructure on the Sunshine Coast. The communities of the Sunshine Coast are growing, with an increasing number of cyclists and pedestrians now sharing our roads. We are also ideally situated to attract bike-tourists, offering beautiful coastal scenery a short ferry ride from Vancouver. For us to capitalize on these opportunities, however, our roads need to be made safer and more welcoming to residents and visitors alike. A focused investment by your Ministry in building adequate shoulders for the length of Highway 101 will increase alternative transportation use on the Sunshine Coast, improve road safety, assist the Province in meeting its active transportation and greenhouse gas reduction targets, and grow the local tourism economy.

Our organization (TraC) supports active transportation and GHG reductions by promoting cycling, walking and public transit. For several years we have collaborated with MOTI, as well as local governments, in developing our cycling route project, the Sunshine Coast Bike Route (SCBR), and seeking a coordinated approach to cycling infrastructure maintenance and construction. In particular, in 2005 the MOTI, Sunshine Coast Regional District, Town of Gibsons and District of Sechelt, along with TraC, developed a shared set of four transportation priorities, including the following: “work towards building a minimum 1-metre shoulder on either side of Hwy 101 from Langdale to Earls Cove in the areas where there is currently no shoulder”.

Achieving this goal is critical to increasing active transportation on the Sunshine Coast. TraC surveys of local cyclists identified inadequate highway shoulders as a key barrier to increased use of bikes for transportation. More tellingly, this year we lost the Gibsons Grind, an annual bike race, due to safety concerns about Highway 101. The Grind has been a huge success, drawing hundreds of visiting cyclists to the coast each year and pumping thousands of dollars into our tourism economy. Unfortunately, the organizers announced this spring that the 2019 Grind is cancelled because “a significant increase in traffic and deterioration in the quality of Hwy 101 … [puts] Grind participants at risk” . 1 We are already feeling the economic cost of inadequate cycling infrastructure.

One critically important and achievable step your Ministry could take towards improving active transportation on the Sunshine Coast is a multi-year funding commitment to build or expand shoulders on Highway 101 that conform to the current 1.5 meter TAC recommendation.  As noted above, MOTI, local governments and TraC are all in agreement that this should occur. And the work required is limited in scope and achievable. As part of our SCBR project, we surveyed the highway from Langdale to Earls Cove, and mapped the areas where there is no/insufficient shoulder. As the attached map illustrates, there are many places where adequate shoulders are in place. What is needed is focused investment to eliminate the gaps.

There are so many reasons why increased investment by MOTI is needed to support active transportation on the Sunshine Coast. There is the economic benefit to local communities generated by bike tourism, which is a fast growing sector of the tourism market; 2 the statutory responsibility of MOTI to build and maintain highways fit for safe use by all road users; the science demonstrating that active transportation contributes to individual and community health; 3 and the fact that your government’s progressive commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve the CleanBC goals requires, among other things, shifting away from driving towards cleaner, lower emission options like cycling and walking. All of these factors support a targeted investment by MOTI to improve our road infrastructure.

Minister, it is in our view time for an increased investment by MOTI in roads on the Sunshine Coast. Our population is growing, traffic is increasing, and highway maintenance and construction has simply not kept pace with these demands. We urge you to commit funding to widening shoulders on Highway 101, as a first and much needed concrete step towards making our roads safe for all users.

Sincerely,
Alun Woolliams
TraC President

Cc. Nicholas Simons, MLA
Lori Pratt – Chair, SCRD
Bill Beamish – Mayor, Town of Gibsons
Darnelda Siegers – Mayor, District of Sechelt
Don Legault – Operations Manager, MOTI
Glen Hafey – President, Sunshine Coast Cycling

1. http://www.gibsonsgrindgranfondo.com
2. For information on our Coastal Bike Route project, which promotes bike tourism on the Sunshine Coast, see: http://transportationchoices.ca/wp/initiatives/coastal-bike-route/
3. See, for e.g., the National Collaborating Centre for Public Health Report at: http://www.ncceh.ca/sites/default/files/Active_Transportation_in_Urban_Areas_June_2010.pdf