Category Archives: Letters

Safe crossing for bikes desperately needed

Re: Focus on need, July 6, 2012

The ‘road diet’ for Lexington is absolutely necessary, and the decision to delay by Waterloo city council is intolerable. At present, there is no way for cyclists to cross the Conestoga Parkway in the City of Waterloo and still feel safe on the road.

The four lanes of car traffic is excessive, inducing motorists to travel at unsafe speeds. Sidewalks are no alternative for cyclists, as riding on them endangers pedestrians and can create greater risk at intersections. The proposed road diet is a relatively inexpensive and quick repair to the road that will still meet traffic needs for two decades and bypasses institutional inertia at the Ministry of Transportation. Approving it immediately should have been a no-brainer for council.

All citizens are asking for right now is just one safe way to cross the highway by bike. Is that really too much to ask?

Safer streets are the answer

I’m disappointed by The Record’s coverage of the provincial coroner’s Cycling Death Review for its narrow focus on the mandatory helmet law at the expense of the thirteen credible recommendations, especially Luisa D’Amato’s scaremongering column. (Update: Friday’s editorial is a step in the right direction.) The example she provides of the recent injury is hardly relevant to the helmet discussion. The incident, which resulted from the cyclist violating several traffic laws, could have been prevented entirely without the aid of a helmet.

The coroner’s better recommendations will guide us here. Consider if the intersection had been designed with a ‘complete streets’ approach, with dedicated cycling infrastructure. What if the cyclist also had received and was tested in public school on bicycle safety and the rules of the road? What if he was confident enough to take his lawful place on the road, not on the sidewalk, with the knowledge that other traffic would respect him? This young man would have made his way home safely, regardless of what he did or didn’t have strapped to his head.

No one is taking their life into their own hands when they get on a bicycle. Instead, we all share responsibility for each others’ welfare on the road. That requires that we do everything possible to prevent collisions, not accept them as inevitable. As it says on the front page of the coroner’s report, “road safety is everyone’s responsibility.”

Let’s build a great community

From the Waterloo Region Record

Kudos to The Record for its editorial Monday encouraging participation in the community building process around the coming rapid transit line. I hope that the paper continues to raise awareness so that more people can be engaged in making their neighbourhoods the best possible places to live, work, shop, and play.

In June, Council made the right decision for our Region’s future health and prosperity by voting in favour of light rail transit. If you disagree, merely complaining won’t accomplish much. Instead, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and constructively contribute to the discussion of how to make your neighbourhood take greater advantage of LRT. I was pleased to see a few of the more vocal opponents to rapid transit doing just that at the Region’s workshop last week.

I think we’ll all be surprised by how much we benefit from LRT when the line opens. But we’ll benefit even more if we all have a hand in helping to positively shape our community.

A challenge worth accepting

To: The Waterloo Region Record

Challenge accepted???

This week, community-building blogger James Howe proposed a challenge to Record transportation columnist Jeff Outhit: to park his personal vehicle for 30 days and try getting around by bus, walking, cycling, and when necessary, car sharing or carpooling. Through this challenge, Jeff and his readers would greatly benefit from learning about the difficulties and advantages of choosing a car-reduced lifestyle.

Regrettably, Jeff has declined James’ challenge. I urge Jeff and his editors to reconsider. I believe he can pull it off and that we’ll all gain from his experience.

Unhappy holidays

Every year around this time, I am embarrassed by fellow Christians who go ballistic because some secular institution adopts a substitute for the word “Christmas.” Somehow, this constitutes an offence against my faith, justifying rage, paranoia, “us-versus-them” type thinking, and even xenophobia. Bizarre behaviour for those purporting to celebrate the quiet entrance of God into our world through the humblest of circumstances, announced only to reclusive shepherds and foreign visitors. It would make more sense if these folks instead worshipped the kings and Caesars of that era, who craved (and killed) for such homage and cultural primacy.

If the “put Christ back in Christmas” movement stopped hyperventilating for a moment to think, they might realize that “Holiday trees” and “Season’s Greetings” actually play in Jesus’ favour. Does Christ benefit from a retailer cynically exploiting his name to pump profits, or worse, distract customers from unfair labour practices? Let governments and businesses celebrate commerce and consumption without disguise; the faithful can then reclaim the concept of Christmas as a time of “peace on earth, good will toward men” (and women).

Generational divide is exactly why we should build LRT

Light rail by azmichelle, on FlickrLetter to the editor, published in the Waterloo Region Record March 19, 2011

A common theme in the light rail transit debate is that many students and young professionals support it while many from the older generation are opposed.

I believe this generational divide provides a compelling reason to invest in light rail transit now. The transportation networks we build and maintain today are going to leave an impression for the next 50 to 100 years, not just the next 15. We need the foresight to build something that can be used not only by this emerging generation but by their children as well.

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