BY ISLAND PATHWAYS
More cars on Salt Spring, or fewer cars on Salt Spring?
Of course, probably everyone can agree that the island doesn’t need more traffic congestion, more speed or more people fearful to get between home, school, shopping, and the ferry terminals outside the protection of a vehicle.
It seems that only the most experienced and fearless among us are willing to ride a bicycle for everyday travel, an otherwise logical commuting choice (one would think) for rural islanders.
It’s also the mode promoted by the B.C. government; just four years ago, as part of a joint “CleanBC” strategy between the transportation and environment ministries called Move Commute Connect, the province set a goal of doubling the number of cycling and walking trips by 2030.
Today, with car traffic levels returning to (and seemingly exceeding) pre-COVID levels — and Salt Spring year-round residency and seasonal visitation numbers rising — one thing seems certain: the number of cars being used on the island for everyday use probably won’t stay the same. Things are changing one way or another, so how do we make the change work for all residents and visitors?
On Friday, June 2, in conjunction with province-wide GoByBike Week celebrations, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Rob Fleming will come to Salt Spring to meet with the Salish Sea Trail Network (SSTN) Working Group to discuss the situation on Salt Spring and try to answer that question.
Members of SSTN — which includes MLA Adam Olsen, MP Elizabeth May, CRD director Gary Holman, Islands Trust staff and trustee Laura Patrick, a Salt Spring Island Ferry Advisory Committee representative, and local NGOs Transition Salt Spring and Island Pathways — have called on the provincial government to complete a 20-kilometre trail across Salt Spring Island from Fulford to Vesuvius as part of the Salish Sea Trail, which would be a 250-km-long cycling circuit from Victoria through the Saanich Peninsula and the Cowichan Valley.
Connecting the existing Lochside, Galloping Goose, Cowichan Valley Regional and E&N Railway trails, this active transportation network would provide safe and climate-friendly access through some of the most populated and scenic parts of coastal British Columbia. And, it’s 92 per cent complete, save for the stretch on Salt Spring that connects Swartz Bay to Crofton.
A recently published cycling safety review commissioned by the province highlights many safety improvements that could help encourage more Salt Springers and visitors to choose cycling and walking over driving, but it would take bolder investments to complete the Salish Sea Trail and provide safe connectivity and commuting options for all.
You can advocate for Salt Spring to receive some of the same investments in infrastructure improvements, pathways and education being provided to other communities across the province to encourage more cycling, make walking safer and help achieve those audacious CleanBC goals.
Join Island Pathways members, MLA Olsen and others for a public, “all ages and abilities” group bike ride from Fulford to Ganges that morning — Friday, June 2, starting at 9 a.m. at Fulford Harbour — or join in at 9:30 at the Cusheon Lake Road intersection to show your support for safe cycling.
The group ride will culminate in a family-friendly rally at 10 a.m. at Lions Bike Park in Mouat Park, complete with scoot bikes for little ones, bicycle blender smoothies, prize giveaways and an opportunity from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to speak with Minister Fleming at an ASK Salt Spring meeting about making cycling safer for everyone.
You can also show your support for safer walking and cycling infrastructure on Salt Spring Island by joining Island Pathways with a $10 lifetime membership: IslandPathways.ca/membership-signup/.
For more information about GoByBikeBC Week and events happening on June 2, visit gobybikebc.ca/salt-spring-island/.