2018 Council

Vote Bill Manners

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Better Walking and Cycling in Nanaimo

Pedestrians and cyclists have it tough in Nanaimo.  Sure, there's infrastructure built for them - sidewalks and bike lanes - but there certainly isn't enough of either!  Quite often sidewalks and bike lanes end abruptly, leaving the pedestrian or cyclist hanging.  Sidewalks end in an overgrown dirt trail or are continued on the other side of the street, sometimes switching back and forth from one side of the street to the other several times.  For a pedestrian who has visual or mobility challenges, our sidewalk system is a nightmare.  On the other hand, bike lanes just end.  They'll suddenly appear on the road, continue for a couple of blocks, then disappear.  They don't connect to anything - especially not to other bike lanes.  This just leads to a frustrating situation for cyclists and motorists alike.  Cyclists also face the challenge of crumbling road edges and debris on the road edges which make their commutes more hazardous.

As a city councillor, I'd like to work on a solution to fixing the hodge-podge of pedestrian and cycling routes.  Cyclists need routes which connect to other routes so they can get around the city as efficiently as a motorist can.  High density mixed residential and commercial areas need to have sidewalks installed.  It's ridiculous to ask a person to climb into their car to visit a store which is a five-minute walk or bike ride away from their home simply because there is no safe pedestrian or cycling access.  And yet, in some areas of the city, this is the situation.  It puts more cars on the road and further erodes pedestrian and cyclist safety.

Another factor which would make Nanaimo safer for pedestrians, cyclists and also motorists is lighting.  If you've been to other cities in Canada, you will often notice that street lights are located on both sides of a road.  In Nanaimo, that is often not the case.  Many roads in Nanaimo only have streetlights on one side.  Sometimes the lights are on the side with the sidewalks, sometimes they are not.  If you're a pedestrian, and you are walking on the side of the road without lights, you can become almost invisible to motorists unless you are brightly lit up and have reflective material on your wrists or sewn into your clothing.

One thing that I would be interested to look into with the new mayor and other councillors is intelligent street lighting.  Our next council could draft bylaws to require it in new developments and slowly replace our aging lighting infrastructure as needed.

Intelligent street lighting is lighting that recognizes movement by pedestrians, cyclists, cars, and large wildlife, like deer.  It turns off when there is no movement detected, and brightens as soon as something comes within sensor range.  It can also communicate with neighbouring street lights to ensure that pedestrians and cyclists are safely encircled by light as they travel.  As a homeowner, this enhances the safety of your neighbourhood.  If your street lights come on, it alerts you to activity around your yard and when they are off, it gives you peace of mind, knowing nobody is in your yard.  This also alerts motorists and other users of the road to potential hazards or dangerous situations.  It also saves energy, saving the city money, and lowering our carbon footprint.  It would have the added benefit of lowering light pollution which can affect bird migration patterns, plant growth, disrupt sleep patterns, and takes away the beauty of our night skies.

As Nanaimo's population approaches the 100,000 mark, improving walking, cycling and lighting infrastructure would make this a more livable and environmentally sustainable city for all to enjoy.

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