Andrew Gower, Wedler Engineering
For the past 100 years, traffic engineering and transportation design has been focussed on one thing, and one thing only – moving vehicles. For the most part, and especially in the Comox Valley, other modes of transportation including transit, walking, and cycling have been treated as an afterthought or a distraction.
This is evident in the City of Courtenay if you were to try and walk from Bill Moore Park down 23rd St to Kilpatrick and the Driftwood Mall. There is no sidewalk and no cross walk. Here we have two major hubs – a sports field connected to the Rail Trail system and other pedestrian links and a commercial centre with no way to connect the two on foot.
This emphasis on vehicles only acts to subsidize modes of transport that cost society more – single occupancy private automobiles – and provide a disincentive to modes of transport that cost society the least – walking and cycling.
Fortunately, we are beginning to see a shift locally, and much bigger changes nationally and internationally. One such project is the 5th St “Complete Street” project that the City of Courtenay is pursuing. A Complete Street is one that is accessible to all ages and abilities – all of society. Considering that all of society pays for our transportation infrastructure, regardless of whether everyone even drives a car or not, it is simply more democratic and sustainable that complete streets are built, and that our traffic and transportation planning encompass and prioritize all modes of travel.
Andrew Gower is a partner and Courtenay branch manager of Wedler Engineering. He volunteers with several local non-profits and is passionate about the Comox Valley’s sustainable future. He can be reached at 250.334.3263 or www.wedler.com.