The Editorial in the June 2023 Tempo brought up two issues about the path linking Victoria Street and Foster.
The editorial provided the opinion of some of the walkers using the bicycle path. Here is the experience of some of the cyclists.
• The vast majority of interactions with pedestrians are safe and cordial.
• Approaching some walkers from behind, you can ring your bell, say ‘beep, beep’, shout ‘hello’, all to no purpose. They do not hear you until you are upon them. At which point they startle and are as likely to jump into you as away. Some are wearing earbuds; some are simply oblivious. Some will swear at you.
• Some walkers seem to think the path rules do not apply to them. They walk in big groups, they stand and talk in the path or in the gates, they do not move aside even when you approach from in front and can be seen from some distance.
• Some dogwalkers let their dogs run loose. Some who have their dog on a leash will move to one side of the path, but the dog and their walking partner move to the opposite side. The leash is strung between the two.
• Many cyclists will speed up when there are no pedestrians on the path. This does not pose a hazard to anyone but the occasional deer, snake or squirrel. It is virtually impossible to ride quickly on the stretch between Victoria Street and the bridges. There are simply too many pedestrians acting in completely unpredictable manner. Apparently, there is a very large number of pedestrians who are not ‘afraid to walk on the path’. On a busy weekend it can be more like the Cirque du Soleil than Autoroute 10.
• Finally, where should the couple with an 8 and 11 year old child ride their bikes? On Lakeside in the traffic? The other issue is the encroachment of neighbours on the path.
Unlike the statement in the editorial, the path is not a ‘right of way’. The town owns the property. Apparently the town has ‘gently reminded property owners of the facts’. Surely we have learned by now that when it comes to territorial encroachment, appeasement does not work. The town must act forcefully, demand that neighbouring property owners remove their structures from town property. If they do not comply, the town should remove them and send the property owners the bill. Before going to the expense of widening the path, two steps could be taken. First, hire a few patrollers who can gently explain the path rules to all users. This has been done in Granby and has been quite effective. Secondly, add a rule that all users must keep to the right, pass on the left. This is a widely known and understood rule that works for cars and aircraft.
Meanwhile, the current ‘rules of the path’ are posted at several points along its route. If everyone – walkers and cyclists – would courteously follow these rules, we could both safely enjoy this jewel in the crown of Lac Brome.
Geoffrey Webber Foster