The Abbot St., Hwy 97, City Park Challenge

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Quite a number of months ago, cyclists and pedestrians could (and did) go through City Park and onto the Abbot St. corridor via a pedestrian tunnel. It was a safe way to get under Hwy 97/Harvey Ave. without dodging SUV’s and waiting forever for traffic lights.

On top of that, City park was one of Kelowna’s big attractions – lots of grass, trees, a great beach. It saw a lot of use from joggers and cyclists traveling from the downtown core onto Abbot for recreation and for commuting.

This was too good to last. The City and Province put a full stop to that nonsense – why should cyclists avoid the fun. Can’t have them getting to work or shopping without close interaction with vehicles and some character building pollution. If we continued that way they’d become a bunch of spineless wimps – buck them up with a few close calls for heavens sake. A little stress will give them a boost.

Besides if the bastards get fit they end up costing our health care system more than if they gracefully expire at age 50 from a massive heart attack.

The method chosen to bring character to cycling/walking citizens was to immediately block off the tunnel upon initiating construction of the new bridge. Now they had no choice but to go around the tunnel by way of Abbot St., getting their rightful fill of pollution and taking their chances on Abbot between moving traffic, parked vehicles and opening car doors – much more satisfactory!

That certainly wasn’t enough stimulation for the non motoring group. Removing the sidewalk from the south side of Abbot near to Hwy 97 was a very progressive move. Putting in a few signs telling cyclists and walkers to cross Abbot to the other sidewalk was a mark of brilliance. Make it look like we really care about them! Further to that, no longer allowing pedestrians to cross Hwy 97 on the south side of Abbot really made it interesting.

Better yet was placing several thin pylons in the middle of Hwy 97 to “guide” pedestrians across the “crosswalk”. They made for a confusing route to give motorists a little lead time to get lined up on said pedestrians. Almost perfect.

The final touch was guiding east bound cyclists onto the sidewalk on the north side of Abbot once across Hwy 97 and then daring them to get onto the cycling path on the other side of Abbot. The authors of this “challenge” surely knew what they were doing. They knew that cyclists will do damn near anything to avoid dismounting and their stubbornness in this regard is only exceeded by that of motorists circling to get a parking spot next to the main doors at Orchard Park.

Said cyclists now had the choice of riding the sidewalk for a block or two, attempting to ride against traffic beside Hwy 97 to get across to the correct side of Abbot or wait for their 2nd (or third) light to achieve the south side of Abbot – all the while getting a bracing fill of CO, CO2, hydro carbons, and NO2.

Car-head attitude at it’s best.

John.

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