Appeared in the North Shore News – March 1, 2013
If you want to save West Van’s leafy, peaceful Seaview Walk from kidnapping by the bicycle bullies, listen up.
Drop all commitments and attend the second and arguably decisive workshop on this issue, Wednesday, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Gleneagles Community Centre, and give the bullies, busy bureaucrats and councillors an earful. If it isn’t just another “public consultation” over a done deal.
Insanely, this verdant gem from Cranley Drive to Eagleridge Drive is under threat of becoming a link with the dubious Spirit Trail, the gleam in the eye of the Higher Environmentalists, allied with the rogue core of their most thoroughly unpopular faction, the bicycle lobby.
It’s grotesque that lobbyists routinely snarl downtown traffic with protests while the police helpfully abet their law-breaking, but that’s Mayor Gregor Robertson’s Vancouver.
Seaview Walk would be rebranded as “an accessible, multi-modal facility.” Translation from bafflegab bureaucratese: turned into an asphalt, even maybe night-lit speedway for clench-teethed, wannabe Lance Armstrongs, under the transparent ruse of being opened to the “modes” of seniors, people with walkers, wheelchairs and strollers.
That’s not sugar-coating, it’s another word starting with the same sound. It’s being sneaked in almost exclusively for the bicycle lobby.
Look at this narrow, verdant path and imagine how likely the tottering old folks etc. would coexist with the spandex-clad, 27-speed “recreational” cyclists. (Here’s a challenge. Check a row of parked bicycles. Find even one in 20 with a horn or bell to warn those walkers?) Yes, there are fine, intelligent cyclists who even stop at stoplights. Then there are the others.
This reborn Seaview Walk would not amuse residents along the adjacent drives – Cranley, Marine, Eagleridge and Bluebell, and Falcon Road and others. Heavy two-wheeled traffic apart, they’d have to enjoy the lively conversations that clumps of Sunday cyclists have with one another. As I did, mea culpa, in earliest morning, typically between Hamilton and Niagara Falls, 90 miles/145 kilometres return in a day, on a three-speed Humber. But what did I know, I was 15, 16.
The pedalers would not just dominate this “one multi-modal path, to be shared by all the users” – quoting Ray Fung, West Van’s director of engineering and transportation. They would scare off the other “modes.” Bikes don’t mix with pedestrians, least of all with small children in tow.
You can see this in the leg of the Spirit Trail from Park Royal to 13th Street – paved and regimented the way Seaview Walk would be. Some pedestrians and cyclists still prefer the vehicle lane rather than their own dedicated lane. Drivers are used to them.
It’s as plain as a Bruce Allen opinion: cyclists already have plenty of surfaces. They’re called streets and roads. That said, drivers who pass them dangerously closely, on blind curves, or over the line and threatening oncoming traffic, are arrogant idiots and deserve big, fat fines.
I praise Fung for candour and patience listening to my wild-eyed rant (chief administrative officer Grant McRadu sent him – too busy to talk to me himself). About 65 neighbours attended the first, under-the-radar “workshop” Dec. 5. I asked Fung about their reaction.
“The temper of the meeting was that they preferred to see Seaview Walk as is, thank you very much,” Fung acknowledged. My reading of town hall’s measured report pretty well bore that out.
The attendees broke into groups and wrote down their views. Especially denounced was the asphalt proposal. I admit my wacky dog interest, but many others objected to leashing their dogs on Seaview, one of the North Shore’s safest and friendliest walks with your best friend.
Staff, Fung emphasized, have taken no position on the issue – and the decision of course is West Van council’s.
All this is the dry goods of petty local politics. Speaking as a quite rare pilgrim to Seaview Walk – my dog prefers Ambleside – I sense the intense neighbourliness of the human and canine bond.
Last year the photo of a dog was posted. With elegant simplicity the owners announced its death and expressed appreciation of fellow dog-walkers’ love for the dog over many years. It clutched the heart, reader.
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Liberal Ralph Sultan, who in 2009 creamed all comers (far more votes than all others put together), will face two worthy opponents May 14 in West Vancouver-Capilano: New Democrat Terry Platt, a return bout, and Conservative David Jones, known for his work with the Coho Festival and recent recipient of a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.
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Don’t miss Quartet at the Park & Tilford, set in a home for retired musicians. Come for Maggie Smith and the still-ambitious, even still-randy old people; stay for the innovative credits, cameos of the real-life musicians. The film industry is shrewdly re-wooing audiences they alienated with their blinding violence and trashy sex for the last 35 years.
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I had a journalist’s selfish reason to enjoy John Clark. The former West Van councillor, who died last month, was a great spontaneous, sidewalk interview in front of The Men’s Room on Bellevue Avenue, which he co-owned with Christine Brand, now rebooted as Baracos & Brand.
Clark insisted on no obituary. He probably didn’t want a party either, but wife Wendy and children Gavin and Laura threw a lovely one anyway, at North Van’s Holiday Inn. Mayor Michael Smith and Coun. Bill Soprovich were among the speakers.
Even in his last painful months, asked how he felt, Clark answered with his patented: “Fantastic!” His parting words were always “Adios, amigos!” Those were the last words Laura heard him speak.
© Trevor Lautens, 2013