Letters: week of March 22

City Hall, please put the focus on cyclists and pedestrians

Sir: Do we need bike lanes?

Cars have dramatically reshaped our cities in their rise to dominance, but the effects of that transition are seldom talked about.

They have dispersed populations, altered the form of cities by expanding the space between buildings, and diminished the life that existed in between.

They have helped improve living conditions and curtail infectious diseases, yet have encouraged lifestyle diseases caused by sedentary behaviour.

They have brought prosperity and personal mobility, but that American dream has turned out to be short-lived.

Today, despite massive subsidies from drivers and non-drivers alike, the road system is in perpetual disrepair, chronically underfunded and in need of ever more money to maintain it.

This model of growth has reached a point of diminishing returns. Cars and roads are both depreciating assets that end up costing us more than we get back in return.

And because they are the primary focus of planners and policy makers, alternative modes of transportation are starved by inadequate funding and consideration.

We need to intervene. Start promoting and reintegrating the more humble means of travel, walking and cycling, which shaped our urban environments and made them human in scale.

Cycling can bridge the class, social and economic divides created by the automobile. We need only make a little space on our streets and in our budgets to make cycling a more attractive option. Many people interested in cycling baulk at the prospect of freely mixing with speeding traffic.

Bikes lanes and road diets encourage participation and have a calming effect on traffic, reducing accidents and improving travel times for drivers and cyclists.

Cities that have embraced cycling and established trail networks have realized the benefits of less: less congestion, accidents, pollution, exposure to volatile energy prices, social isolation.

And more: mentally and physically healthy people with more money in their pockets to enrich the local economy.

It is past time Sarnia embraced such change.


Brad Cullis

Sarnia


 

Too much spent on city staff, not enough on road repairs

Sir: Sarnia is a city of very different governmental formations.

The definition of a city is: A municipal corporation forced to carry on the work of government in a town or city. Its charter is granted by the province, and it possesses only such powers as the province confers on it, and no others.

The city’s duty is to provide and maintain safe and passable streets and highways, maintain police and fire protection, and provide for the general safety and welfare of its citizens.

If the city fails to maintain safe and passable streets, the city is liable for damages resulting from those rightfully upon the streets, provided the city had notice that the streets were not safe and not passable, and failed to exercise reasonable care to make the streets safe.

Who would have guessed that in the year 2018 we would have a street system that practically goes back to the quality of the 1900s? This makes me think of the management of our public fund allocations.

Yes, if you overspend on the salaries of the staff every year, eventually you will run out of funds; and every year you will raise your taxes, to no avail.

James Jost
Sarnia