Over 70 local bike riders and cycling advocates gathered today for a social bike ride from Portlock Park to the United Church Meadow in Ganges in a show of support for safe cycling and to challenge local governments to support investments in local cycling infrastructure.
Organized by Salt Spring Solutions as part of the GoByBike Week events being hosted around the province, the gathering was also an opportunity to rally support for investments in the completion of the Salish Sea Trail across Salt Spring Island. Local advocates are working to motivate Salt Spring's unusual, and for the purposes of these kinds of initiatives, not particular well structured government organizations, to take charge of implementing the long-held vision of improving Fulford-Ganges Road from the Fulford Ferry through to the Vesuvius Ferry to not only improve conditions for drivers, but to extend the width of the road shoulders to offer safe spaces for bikes to transit onto and across the island as part of the regional trail plan.
As a result of the pandemic and an explosion in the increase in cycling, there is an unprecedented amount of Federal and Provincial funding available for projects which align across pandemic responses, environmental tourism and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions which are contributing to climate change. In the absence of unified local government leadership taking charge of this opportunity, Salt Spring Island has yet to secure any of the potential funds now available to make this critical project a reality.
‘A bunch of us have been working hard across the island to find ways we can access the billions being pledged and spent by governments right now. We've confirmed that both MLA Adam Olsen - who is a huge supporter of this effort and says it's his #1 transportation priority in the riding - and MP Elizabeth May say this is the exact kind of project that Federal and Provincial green stimulus funds should be going to, and Salt Spring is long overdue for an investment like this.’ Jason Mogus, Salt Spring Solutions
Unfortunately, with the Capital Regional District apparently unwilling to take on a leadership role to make projects like this happen, the opportunities are being lost on Salt Spring while other communities move quickly to increase cycling infrastructure. Infrastructure that not only supports locals with safer transportation options, but cycling infrastructure which is drawing in whole new tourism markets seeking lower impact, cycling friendly experiences across the region.
Now is a crucial moment to show how much you care about safe cycling on Salt Spring by calling for the completion of the 'missing link' of the Salish Sea Trail Network - our crappy main road. This trail would create a dedicated bike lane on the route between Vesuvius and Fulford. A huge community improvement for all of us and a big draw for low-carbon green tourism.
These shows of public support are important ways to build more visibility and momentum for this big idea, especially during a provincial election. Now is the time for BC and Canada to invest in the low-carbon, healthy living solution that has so many benefits for cyclists, drivers, walkers, businesses, First Nations, and tourists.
The Salish Sea Trail Network would be a gem for the province, creating a world class cycling destination, boosting local economies across the region, while supporting sustainable tourism, healthy living, and green transportation.
The Salish Sea Trail Network is an idea hatched almost 15 years ago, and amazingly, it is 90% complete. Connecting the safe, mostly off-road Lochside, Galloping Goose, Cowichan Valley Regional Trail, and the E&N Railroad, this cycling, walking and active transportation network connects some of the most populated - and stunning - parts of coastal BC.
The missing link is the Vesuvius to Fulford Ferry terminals on Salt Spring, where we well know the issues with narrow roadways, lack of shoulders, dangerous blind crossings, and fast moving traffic on often unpainted roads makes bicycling a dangerous choice for all but the most courageous and athletic.
"This road (Fulford-Ganges Road) is by far and away, the most used and most needed upgrade that I can see over the last 3 1/2 years as your MLA. The road upgrade was last tied to the incorporation study in this community and that's not the appropriate way to be dealing with major infrastructure upgrades that are needed for road safety for pedestrians, road safety for cyclists, road safety for cars. To do this, just like we did in Central Saanich, it's going to have be a partnership with the CRD Director, the Islands Trust Trustees and the community. We're going to have to have all levels of government come together and work in a coordinated way to get this road upgraded." Adam Olsen, MLA Saanich North and the Islands
Take a ride into town from Portlock with the cycling rally group and hear from Salt Spring Solutions advocate Jason Mogus and our local incumbent MLA Adam Olsen from the Green Party speak about the need and benefits of safe cycling infrastructure on Salt Spring Island.