A few weeks ago, my Twitter feed for Sooke turned up a post from a justifiably irate cyclist from Vancouver, who heard about this little town called Sooke at the end of a fantastic little bike trail known as the Galloping Goose. Much to his chagrin, to actually get to Sooke from the Goose required hopping off the trail and heading west along Sooke Road (Highway 14). As we all know, the only road in and out of Sooke is very busy at peak periods. Not surprisingly, our friend from Vancouver didn’t exactly feel safe, and was even introduced to one of our more, shall I say, colourful locals in a “… giant pick-up truck who … while honking loudly … roared away… giving us the finger…”
Way to welcome the visitors, buddy.
Anyway, his scathing blog post got me on the defensive, because I knew that the town had already recognized the problem and had been working to fix it. In fact, Joe the Cyclist posted an update with quotes from emails he’d received in response from Mayor Janet Evans and her staff (good job!).
The District of Sooke has been contemplating a separate crossing of the Sooke River for cyclists and joggers for quite some time. And, as it turns out, the design work for this project is well underway. At The District of Sooke Community Open House on October 21st, residents (and visitors) are invited to give feedback about the four proposed designs. All four designs will also include the associated connecting trail networks to link the Galloping Goose with the east-west trail network north of Sooke Road/West Coast Road that has been quietly building out over the past decade or so. Construction of the crossing is expected to take place in 2012.
Another thing that Joe mentioned was the lack of cycling-friendly facilities in the town centre. Even something as simple as a bike rack was difficult to find outside a business. This is something the Chamber should get behind – perhaps a bulk buy of some bike racks or arranging sharing the cost outside a central location near several businesses. Also mentioned was the lack of a bike rack at Whiffen Spit Park. Cyclists are not allowed on the Spit, but should certainly still be provided a safe place to secure their bike so they can enjoy the best views in Sooke along the Spit.
I’d like to thank Joe for his constructive criticism of our cycling infrastructure. It’s direct input like this, from visitors to our town that carries the most weight for improving our increasingly tourist-based local economy.
Thoughts? Opinions? I’d love to hear from the business community, if you’re reading.
The District of Sooke Open House will take place on Thursday, October 21st, 2010. It starts with a tour at Municipal Hall from 1:30-4:00 and then the open house at the Sooke Community Hall, Sheilds Road, from 4:00-8:00. More information can be found in the latest District Quarterly.
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