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LETTER: Bike plan in St. John's is troublesome

The entrance to Rennie's River Trail on Elizabeth Avenue in St. John's.
The entrance to Rennie’s River Trail in St. John's. — Telegram file photo

Almost every day of the year, regardless of weather, I walk various sections of the Rennie’s River trail system. I avoid the sections below Riverdale and above Carpasian Road as they are too narrow for me and our two Labrador dogs to comfortably encounter other walkers. I may walk those sections when I know it is not busy.

Clearly, I have a vested interest in this wonderful area, and I am concerned with what I hear from other regular walkers and what I am seeing in the posted master bike plan. This plan, as I understand it, proposes a multi-use path on these narrow sections. The plan highlights there are challenges in the area. It does not show other route options as proposed elsewhere.

This needs a better explanation. Now, please.

I have questions.

First, how is my city going to put a shared-use path on such narrow sections of the trail, without affecting vegetation or habitat and encroaching on the river itself? Coun. Dave Lane said the environment will be protected. So how will such a wide path be placed in such narrow areas? This needs a better explanation. Now, please.

Second, will my city assume liability for the collisions that will happen on this shared-use path? Will there be separate lanes for bikers and walkers? Regardless of education and promotion programs about what shared use means, if it is one path for all, then collisions are inevitable. Just as much as it irritates me that not all dog walkers clean up after their pets, not all bike users practice safety. I’ve encountered that already.

Third, what is wrong with Empire Avenue as a bike lane? I walk it regularly from Carpasian Road to Forest Road. It has sidewalks and a good line of sight to oncoming traffic. Traffic is light. Joggers use it all the time. Lane mentioned this option in his recent letter to the editor (“if it can be done safely”). What happens if it is not safe? Why does the posted plan not show this option?

I am disappointed my city has advanced this plan to this point. I urge my ward councillor to help all of us take that step back, as Lane asks. Remove or amend that alarming plan, engage with your constituents and allay their concerns.

Pat Angel
Ward 4 resident
St. John’s


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