Connections needed

Dec 19 • Feature Story, ViewpointNo Comments on Connections needed

Citizens at the south end of Victoria Avenue in Chatham have a fair point in their concern about where they would park if adjacent land is used to put in a bike path connecting the north end of Victoria to the downtown area.

In particular, the area south of Grand Avenue, where the homes are older and driveways weren’t an option, can’t afford to have land taken away for a bike path as there is no other option for parking.

And yes, it is in the far off future for now, if it does happen, but when marker flags start going in the ground on your property ahead of a consultation period, it can be cause for concern.

So here’s a crazy thought – instead of creating a new bike path at the road, why not widen one or both of the existing sidewalks to look like the bike/pedestrian paths created on Grand River Line east of Keil Drive?

That way, residents only lose a small portion of yard, bike riders and those walking learn to share, and the town ends up with a bike path that doesn’t stop abruptly on the north side.

The need for a connected bike path that will take riders from one end of the municipality to the other makes sense and it is why the project was started in the first place.

Finding the funding isn’t always easy and with the daily news of program funding being cut that the Doug Ford government deems non-essential, who knows if there will even be money by the time the consultants come up with a workable plan.

Coun. Michael Bondy has questioned whether anyone uses the bike path already on the north end of Victoria, but when it is a path to nowhere, it is no wonder bike enthusiasts aren’t out in droves using it. “Build it and they will come” may be an overused line from a great movie, but it is appropriate here.

Give bike riders a connected path to get around town and they will use it, saving themselves money and getting healthy. With the rate of heart disease and stroke in Chatham-Kent, encouraging bike riders seems like a good thing.

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