The Kettle Valley rail trail. (Photo submitted)

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Combining passenger rail, bike path holds promise

Rail trail on its own wouldn’t be well-used by cyclists of average ability, says letter writer

To the editor,

I found a May 12 article on the E&N rail trail conversation particularly myopic. Why not compare the ‘pure’ trail proposed to the Kettle Valley Trail? After all, Kettle Valley Trail was a former railbed.

The problem with such a comparison, however, is that Kettle Valley ‘trail’ is an unmitigated disaster. Bike tour companies offer only a handful of tours annually, and most of these don’t get off the ground. Why? Because railbed trails tend to be long. Very long.

Less than one in 50 people on Vancouver Island could ride from Victoria to Courtenay or Courtenay to Victoria, let alone the return trip. Bike tourism on Vancouver Island tends to be bikes on racks on vehicles, until the vehicle arrives at a ‘fun’ location to ride – after which the bikes go back on the rack for the trip home.

What you also failed to compare was the $1-billion dollar price tag to restore the rails in this instance to the amount spent on highway barriers.

I respect the rights and perspective of the indigenous people(s) with positions on this rail line. They should have substantial say on how this plays out.

But the result of current propositions will be more cars, more cars, more cars. More roads, more barriers, more cars. Whereas an efficient rail line will reduce car traffic going forward, provide effective transportation for an aging demographic – and, if done properly, provide sound recreation access to the Island and for cyclists of all ages.

Here’s how: replace the rails, restore the rail system to modern rail transport equipment standards. Harden the path on the both sides of the new rails and put bike transport capacity on the new trains. Result: those who chose to could ride their bike(s) and return to the train at any station.

Less cars on the already crowded highway. Less carbon emissions. More people exercising for distances they consider appropriate. Good usage guaranteed for the rail-bed/trail well into the future. Think about it.

R. Thompson, Cowichan

READ ALSO: Vancouver Island First Nation calls for repurposing of E&N rail line

READ ALSO: Realistic figure to get Vancouver Island rail up and running $254 million, says CEO


The views and opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are those of the writer and do not reflect the views of Black Press or the Nanaimo News Bulletin. If you have a different view, we encourage you to write to us or contribute to the discussion below.

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