Whitehorse Daily Star

Image title

Photo by Vince Fedoroff

YOUNG LOBBYIST – Grade 5 student Aramintha Bradford was among the several young students who appeared before city council Monday to lobby for greater emphasis on building a network of connected bike trails in the city.

Stick with bike paths plans, city is urged

City council was urged Monday night by many kids and a couple of parents to keep the push on to establish a safe network of bike paths in the city.

By Chuck Tobin on November 5, 2019

City council was urged Monday night by many kids and a couple of parents to keep the push on to establish a safe network of bike paths in the city.

Many of the seven young students bike every day from the Takhini subdivision to their Ecole Whitehorse Elementary School in a group led by an adult, known as the Takhini bike bus.

“We bike through winter unless it is really icy or below minus 30,” nine-year-old Sitka Land-Gillis told members of council.

“I bike to school as much as possible because it reduces greenhouse gas emissions; it is fun and I get more exercise,” 10-year-old Kieran Horton said during his brief presentation. “I am very enthusiastic about stopping climate change.”

Horton said there are times he does not feel safe, and he has seen disrespectful drivers.

Many of the kids told council there are drivers in Whitehorse who need to start following the rules of the road, like stopping at red lights and keeping a respectful distance from cyclists with whom they share the road.

The kids emphasized that having a connected network of bike trails separate from roadways would go a long way toward encouraging others to bike.

Grade 7 student Jonah McConnell presented a letter on behalf of Ecole Whitehorse Elementary principal Sharon MacCoubrey because she was unable to attend Monday’s meeting.

“I wish to show our support for the implementation of the city’s Bicycle Network Plan to ensure our students have a connected and protected bike route to safely commute to school on a regular basis,” read the letter as presented by McConnell.

“We would like to encourage our youth to be active and pursue a healthy lifestyle. To ensure that these choices become lifelong habits, our students need to be physically active when they are young. One way to be healthy and active is to commute to school.”

In her letter, the principal calls upon the city to commit to a timeline for funding the Bicycle Network Plan adopted by city council in June 2018.

“Please support a safe bicycle infrastructure in Whitehorse for this generation and the next.”

The Bicycle Network Plan sets out a number of long-term visions.

Jocelyn Land-Murphy, a naturopathic doctor, parent and lead cyclist of the bike bus, told council it’s quite a sight to see 10 riders coming down the bike path on Two Mile Hill, all lit up in safety lights.

Having a safe network of connected bike paths would be beneficial for people of all ages and abilities, she said.

She said they all support the Bicycle Network Plan, and would like to see implementation occurring in five years.

Establishing a safe network of trails is particularly relevant in light of the city’s recent declaration of a climate emergency, she said.

Land-Murphy and Whitehorse Elementary teacher Sarah Johnson started an online petition in support of implementing the network plan. The petition was presented to council Monday night.

She noted it had received support so far from more than 2,100 signatories.

Land-Murphy noted the 2014 transportation management plan adopted by the city does authorize the use of money from the city’s parking reserve fund and federal gas tax funding to support sustainable transportation modes – biking.

The petition calls upon the city to:

  1. Commit to and develop a specific timeline for implementing the priority areas identified in the Bicycle Network Plan (including connecting Two Mile Hill to the Riverfront Trail and improving access to the downtown core) by 2022, as specified in the Bicycle Network Plan.

  2. Alter the “Purpose, Criteria, Conditions for Use” portion of the Parking Reserve Fund Bylaw to permit the use of funds for capital costs of projects related to sustainable transportation modes, in order to fund capital and staffing costs required to implement the plan.

“Whitehorse currently lacks safe cycling routes for children and their families to access Whitehorse schools, especially downtown,” says the petition.

Council heard Monday night how cyclists are often forced to travel the main roadways, or hop up onto sidewalks.

It is most desirable to have bicycle paths separated from the roadways, council heard.

The intersection at Second and Fourth avenues is particularly troublesome, the Whitehorse Elementary teacher said.

Johnson said she was struck on her bike last winter and dragged into the middle of the roadway. It was lucky she wasn’t riding with any of the kids at the time or towing a bike trailer with her youngest aboard, she said.

“We need to make sure our children, our families have access to safe bicycle routes.”

Coun. Samson Hartland said he is in full support of a safe bike network. As a resident of the MacPherson subdivision, his three kids bike to their Hidden Valley School without facing the challenges cyclists in the downtown face, he said.

Hartland also noted, however, the availability of funding is a reality. To fulfill all of the commitments made in the Bicycle Network Plan would be approximately $50 million, and $12.6 million for the downtown alone, he said.

Mike Gau, the city’s director of development services, told council and the young students and parents in the audience that city staff have worked diligently on the goals set out in the network plan since it was adopted last year.

A lot of the focus was on the concerns raised raised Monday night, he said.

He said addressing issues requires a lot of design work.

“There is actually a long list of work being done to address those issues, and I think we are making great progress,” Gau said.

Comments (26)

Up 2 Down 0

Ok, Boomer on Nov 11, 2019 at 12:36 pm

@ok, snowflake. Like what? Downtown parking? Parking fees? People from Ontario? Falling back on tired clichés, no doubt. Look at what you’re railing against: CHILDREN ON BICYCLES. Like, who in their right minds wouldn’t encourage that kind of initiative based on the plain and simple evidence. Health care costs from a life sitting on your collective cans behind the wheels of your SUVs and F150s will cost taxpayers, pound for pound (pun intended), more than any amount of bike lanes ever will. But as though evidence and logic means anything these days.

Up 19 Down 2

Ok, Snowflake on Nov 9, 2019 at 1:05 pm

These kids who are thinking riding a bike is going to save the world need to smarten up and realize Whitehorse has much bigger issues than bicycle lanes.

Up 3 Down 18

Not sure why people get so angry over bicycling on Nov 9, 2019 at 7:52 am

Again, anger/name-calling/insults over cyclists ... Yes, there are some cyclists who don't follow the rules (far less, I'm pretty sure, than the percentage of car and truck drivers). But cycling as a form of transportation to and from work and school should be encouraged, for all the reasons people have mentioned. And 'child abuse'? Give your head a shake.

Up 21 Down 1

dangerous riding on Nov 8, 2019 at 1:49 pm

Pedal bikers ride on the wrong side of the road. They ride on the pavement. Many do not wear helmets, many are adults. There is no by law enforcement, more than once if I had made a step sideways by inches I would have been knocked over. This is totally irresponsible. I am a senior. Just the other day, one of the habitual offenders, as I was waiting for a light to change and look left for oncoming traffic, a voice screamed out, HEY! Here he was screaming at me, he on the wrong side of the road and coming off the pavement.

Up 10 Down 1

Charlie's Aunt on Nov 7, 2019 at 5:50 pm

@ drum & MSQ; Maybe the answer is for COW to post rules for Millennium Trail - walkers use one side & bike riders the other - same side regardless of direction. I have found most bike riders to be polite & either ring a bell or speak when coming up behind me, but newer bikes are quiet & can take a walker by surprise.

Up 31 Down 8

Salt on Nov 7, 2019 at 3:42 pm

Someday, probably not too far in the future, the Yukon is going to get kicked off the teat of Ottawa and oh how all the local special interest groups will howl. Like ticks crawling off a dead carcass they will disappear. To these people, government and your money are the answer to all their problems.

Up 14 Down 7

Clarence Darrow on Nov 7, 2019 at 2:25 pm

Attn: High Speed Quads;
Buy some liability insurance! If I get hit by you on the millennium trail, I will sue you into your retirement and beyond!.....

Up 10 Down 30

Ok, Boomer on Nov 7, 2019 at 11:37 am

All these fiscally responsible boomer nimby's need to give their heads a shake. Here are some real facts from the British Medical Journal (leftwing media, amiright?)

"The British Medical Journal studied the commuting patterns of workers over a five-year period, and in 2017, published some truly staggering results: regularly cycling to work reduced their overall risk of death by 41 percent, while reducing their risk of heart disease by 46 percent, and cancer by 45 percent.

Dr. McCracken is quick to point out the specific benefits are varied for each person, and the research is still improving, but there is one overwhelming body of evidence she can point to, without any doubt: being sedentary is bad for our health. Decades of engineering physical activity out of our lives, especially in the way we move, has had a devastating impact on our fitness.

A shocking 93 percent of Canadian children do not get the recommended amount of daily exercise, and one in three are overweight or obese. By 2040, almost three-quarters of Canadian adults will be overweight, significantly increasing their risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and costing over $100 billion per year in health care.

Sadly, this generation may be the first in the history of western civilization to live shorter lives than their parents."

Griping about the cost of bike lanes misses the point completely. You know what is going to cost a LOT of taxpayer money, that by generation will be saddled with? Healthcare costs for the paunchy, heart-disease-ridden, couch potato Boomer and NIMBY class who scowl at cyclists from the windows of their idling SUVs on their daily commute from to downtown. You're all biased and lack the capacity to process REAL FACTS AND EVIDENCE. Freedom lives on two wheels, buds. Hope on board!
Congrats to the families and kids for making this an important issue.

Up 12 Down 29

High Speed Quads on Nov 7, 2019 at 9:35 am

Drum, the Millennium Trail is a multi use trail. I bike commute, and the number of people like you I have to avoid is nuts. People walking all over the path: left side, right side, down the middle, two and three abreast, headphones on.
Treat the millennium Trail as you would a highway, stay to the right, don't walk side by side, and above all pay attention. If that's too much for you, probably best that you do stay off it.
Really though, nothing like an article on bike commuting to shake the nuts out of the tree. The roads in the CofW are out of control. No one pays any attention to the texting/cell phone laws. Speed limits? HAH! Stop lights and signs? Give 'er!
And people get bent about a few cyclist wanting somewhere they can ride safely without morons in jacked diesels running them over.

Up 16 Down 3

Yukoner123 on Nov 7, 2019 at 7:58 am

It would make a whole lot more sense for the City to focus on commuter bike paths rather than backcountry trails created for a handful of the population. More consultants on the way!

Up 34 Down 14

Matthew on Nov 7, 2019 at 5:56 am

When did adults become so stupid they started listening to children...

Up 23 Down 1

Miles Epanhauser on Nov 7, 2019 at 12:35 am

Parents, please be responsible and make sure the bike routes are safe for your children.
It's not safe to ride on 2nd and Fourth and many other of our streets.

Up 12 Down 8

Margie Johnson on Nov 6, 2019 at 7:37 pm

I totally support safe off the main road bike paths for all ages. This is NOT child abuse; it is good parenting. We live in an age where children are dropped off and picked up. When they get home they sit in front of a screen! Anything that get kids moving is a plus!

Calgary has fantastic off highway paths that are used all year long by adults and children. They are kept cleared and I have not heard of any law suits yet.

Up 11 Down 35

Politico on Nov 6, 2019 at 2:11 pm

Highway NIMBYS. It's amazing that so many car drivers who don't follow the rules are demanding that all bike riders follow the rules.

Up 11 Down 28

Michael Miller on Nov 6, 2019 at 2:08 pm

It's not safe to bike in Whitehorse so let's make it safe.
The city should make this the top priority of the climate emergency.

Up 32 Down 9

Obi on Nov 6, 2019 at 2:05 pm

Child abuse?
Any parent that encourages their young children to bike to school in our Yukon winters need their heads examined. I don't care if the cut off temperature is minus 30 or not.
If one of these kids get hit by a vehicle regardless of the circumstances, who do you think will have to pay? Not the uninsured, or un licenced cyclist.
I"m not a lawyer, but I would sue the City Of Whitehorse for not clearing all bike paths and designated road lanes immediately after a snowfall. If you encourage the use of bikes on our roadways North of the 60th parallel in the wintertime, then you deserve
to be sued constantly.
Where are the city lawyers and the legal opinions needed to tell all these "organ donor" cyclists that bikes and ice don't mix, and I don't care how fat your tires are!

Up 34 Down 2

Max Mack on Nov 6, 2019 at 12:10 pm

I agree in principle with segregated bike paths from a safety perspective. However, the enormously high costs associated with implementing this in reality is a show stopper. Not to mention the many practical problems of trying to force segregated bike paths among existing, competing infrastructure and green spaces.

Unfortunately, CoW has taken the cheaper and far easier step of providing dedicated bike lanes on roads (that were never designed to accommodate bike lanes) at the expense of motor vehicle users, regardless of actual safety hazards associated with mixing multi-ton vehicles with bicycles.

Add to this the recent "pilot project" in Riverdale that dedicates an entire lane as a combination bus/bike lane. Note that the immediate area is/was already served by 2 bike lanes, 2 sidewalks (one on each side of Lewes), a paved path adjacent to Lewes, 2 dirt trails in the green space beside Lewes, and the Millenium Trail -- all of these are used by cyclists travelling in both directions, regardless of laws.

Up 11 Down 31

Davis on Nov 6, 2019 at 11:45 am

YES - Whitehorse really needs upgrades to its cycling paths!

Up 37 Down 6

All for safe bike lanes on Nov 6, 2019 at 10:31 am

I'm all for safe bike lanes, but man... that indoctrination is alive and well, eh?
I mean I recall biking was a fun way for me as a kid to gain some independence of travel and healthy exercise as well as going on biking trips with my friends, never as a 10 year old would I worry myself with crap such as "climate change" and "greenhouse gasses".. holy crap, let kids be kids. They should NOT be spouting things like this, ie.:
“I bike to school as much as possible because it reduces greenhouse gas emissions; it is fun and I get more exercise,” 10-year-old Kieran Horton said during his brief presentation. “I am very enthusiastic about stopping climate change.”

Up 34 Down 6

Josey Wales on Nov 5, 2019 at 7:29 pm

Guess this is the new thing now, use your kids as shields in the micro management political sphere?

Yeah...no directions at all from their parents and or caregivers.
A community of lobbyists and special interest, now apparently run by children?
Greta is a complete hypocrite and fraud on the topic of child soldiers/shields.

Up 30 Down 4

drum on Nov 5, 2019 at 7:03 pm

It works both ways. I stopped walking the Millenium Trail because of rude and nasty bike riders. I am a senior who wishes to get walking exercise but I had so many near misses with bikers coming up behind me and my walking partner - no warning bells (they should be made a must). They thought that we did not belong there and it was only for bikers. Most cities have walking and biking lanes for people but they are defined by white lines indicating where the walkers should be and where the bikers should be - never the twane should meet.

Up 38 Down 6

Is there a serial complainer clause? on Nov 5, 2019 at 6:51 pm

That woman in the front, wasn't she the same one that complained about her ability to bike across a highway? in courts there are laws to protect against serial litigants, or people that abuse processes, how many times does she get to bring the same stuff up? Or is it cause she used her kids that it's ok?

Up 33 Down 6

... when the classroom goes to city hall on Nov 5, 2019 at 6:05 pm

Look at the group that is attempting to push this. Real seasoned and experienced vets in there
oh wait, NDP

Up 35 Down 7

Avid, Shimano, Sram, carbon on Nov 5, 2019 at 6:04 pm

For seven kids? That don't always bike?
Riverdale needs a second access. Those people pay taxes and have the ability to vote.

Flat out shame on the parents. Indoctrinating children with nonsense and preparing them for a world where they wish to be coddled. Government is supposed to support the view of the majority. Not sure you've noticed how many cars are on the road vs. bikes.

Worse still is when you're failing to address REAL issues and clutter the airwaves with this garbage. Legitimate concerns are being pushed aside for this populist platform.

Up 25 Down 4

Mr M on Nov 5, 2019 at 4:57 pm

Now if you can get the arrogant adults that ride down the road on 2 mile hill to use them that would be nice. No 2 bike lanes one on each side of the road and they ride right down the roadway or on the sidewalk not the bike path. Also at pedestrian crosswalks aren't the bicyclists supposed to walk the bike across not ride it? I seen a family (with the father in the lead) crossing at the top of two mile hill and teaching the kids the wrong way to cross. It is a pedestrian cross walk.

Up 15 Down 4

Gringo on Nov 5, 2019 at 3:53 pm

Ok...go through the lights on Range road hang a left, go down two mile and then hang a right on Baxter, follow along to 6th avenue. Bike to Black street hang a left at the joke of a round about, keep pedaling down black to the lights on 4th and voila...l’ecole!

Add your comments or reply via Twitter @whitehorsestar

In order to encourage thoughtful and responsible discussion, website comments will not be visible until a moderator approves them. Please add comments judiciously and refrain from maligning any individual or institution. Read about our user comment and privacy policies.

Your name and email address are required before your comment is posted. Otherwise, your comment will not be posted.