Response from the Minister of Transportation re: UBCO access

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I wrote the following letter to the Minister of Transportation and emailed it on the 27th November 2007.

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Dear Sir:

re: UBCO campus access by cyclists and pedestrians.
Hwy 97 from the Okanagan Bridge to Oyama is a major safety problem from a cycling point of view. Some of the areas that are effected are the UBCO campus, the Kelowna airport, Lake Country and all of it’s rapidly expanding population and businesses throughout that area. There are few detours available to avoid the dangerous areas of the highway and there are no indications that the situation will be remedied in the near future.

There can be few campuses in North America that do not provide safe and pleasant routes for access by cyclists and pedestrians. The UBCO campus does not provide this.

There are two routes from Kelowna to the north, one is Hwy 97 and the other is Glenmore Road through the Glenmore Valley (maintained by the City of Kelowna). Both are congested with heavy and fast motor vehicle and truck traffic and both are dangerous to cyclists and pedestrians.

Your government has just announced an initiative to decrease greenhouse gases. Surely safe access for cyclists, to the north of Kelowna, including the UBCO campus are an important part of reducing GHG. Students, if encouraged to cycle, are likely to continue throughout their lives. I can assure you that the situation as it now stands is not at all encouraging for cyclists and pedestrians.

If you wish to view the situation on the ground, I would be happy to cycle the area with you and discuss the situation.

Please give this serious consideration for the inclusion of safe cycling and pedestrian access to UBCO and the other areas mentioned above.

Yours Truly,

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Late this last week, after a telephone call to see if a response was forthcoming, I received the following reply:

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Dear John:

Thank you for your e-mail of November 28, 2007, regarding your concerns about the lack of safe access for cyclist and pedestrians to the campus of the University of British Columbia-Okanagan (UBCO).

I’m an avid cyclist myself, and I understand that promoting cycling in our province’s communities has numerous benefits, including personal health and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, as you’ve noted. Our government has committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30per cent by the year 2020, so creating opportunities for cyclists and pedestrians is becoming an even greater priority for us.

You may be pleased to learn that property acquisition for the new pathway is now underway, and should be completed early in 2008. Construction of a paved pathway should be finished in late spring of 2008. Once the path is finished, cyclists and pedestrians will not have to cross the Ellison Overpass or cross Highway 97 at an unsignalized intersection and will have safer access to UBCO and points north from the city.

The Ellison Overpass project included construction of a separated pathway to allow access for cyclists and pedestrians to campus, but there were delays in generating an acceptable design connecting the path to the city road network. In September, the conceptual design for an alternate route was completed, and while ministry staff had been in talks with CN Rail for some time beforehand, a formal application for land use was made in October.

As someone who enjoys cycling and is involved in the cycling community, you may be interested to know about other cycling infrastructure projects my ministry has undertaken. We’ve contributed $250,000 towards construction of bike lanes along Lakeshore Road, and spent $1 million to help build the bike path from downtown Kelowna to the Apple Bowl along the CN Rail right-of-way. As well, bike lanes were included as part of both the Highway 33 extension and Highway 33 four-laning projects. We’re also planning to provide signing to identify cycling routes that parallel Harvey Avenue.

If you have any further questions or concerns about cycling issues in and around Kelowna, Bill Smith, my ministry’s Project Director for the Okanagan Corridor, would be pleased to assist you. He can be reached at 250 712-3663 or by e-mail at Bill.Smith@gov.bc.ca.

I hope you find this information useful. Thank you again for taking the time to write.

Best regards,

Kevin Falcon
Minister
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There is no mention of the negotiations with CN Rail or KPR in the above letter. I wonder if that means they have come to a successful agreement?

I certainly hope that the route referred too (the north end of Adams Court to the UBCO campus) is completed by late spring this year – we will have to wait and see for now. As my grandmother used to say “the proof is in the pudding”.

John.

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One Response to “Response from the Minister of Transportation re: UBCO access”

  1. Tristan Says:

    I think he is taking liberties with the English language with his seemingly impromptu creation, “unsignalized”. I guess “Bloviating 101” is now part of the Poli Sci curriculum (although I’m sure the English department could furnish a number of worthies).

    “Construction of a paved pathway should be finished in late spring of 2008.” Spring must be extended this year.

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