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The case for “complete streets”

The Rotary Club of Prince Rupert were given a presentation on the complete streets concept Aug. 24.
An example of a complete street with extended walkways and bike lanes was presented by Chris Lightfoot to the Rotary Club of Prince Rupert on Thursday, Aug. 24. (Photo source

Chris Lightfoot presented to the Rotary Club of Prince Rupert Aug. 24 about how the city can build safer streets for its cyclists, pedestrians, joggers, motorists and other individuals who use the city’s roads and sidewalks.

Approximately 20 people were present to hear Lightfoot, a speech language pathologist with School District 52, present about a concept called complete streets, which is a philosophy of organizing city spaces to best allow everyone to use them safely.

“The goal is to transform Prince Rupert into a network of streets and pathways where people can walk or bike from point A to B in a safe and secure manner without fear of traffic,” he said.

Lightfoot opened his presentation by saying that there currently is not a reasonable way to travel by bike in the city, showing an example of a young girl riding her bike on a sidewalk because there was not enough clear separation from traffic on the road for her to cycle safely.

“Incomplete streets are unsafe and discourage people from walking or biking,” he said.

Lightfoot then presented a number of ways in which roads and sidewalks can be reorganized to create more space for cyclists and pedestrians. One of these methods, called a bulb-out, extends the sidewalk out into the road with barriers in a way that shortens the distance a pedestrian would have to go to cross the street. Another method, called a road diet, involves narrowing road lanes to make space for biking lanes, and using parking as a barrier between cyclists and traffic.

Following the presentation, Lightfoot opened the floor for questions from the audience followed by a brief discussion. Generally, those who responded liked the complete streets concept, and there were a few who commented both about being a pedestrian worried about their safety or a motorist afraid of harming someone on the street.

While he is not an urban planner or civil engineer, Lightfoot said he is passionate about the subject because he is both a jogger and cyclist who wants to enjoy those activities in Prince Rupert with his children safely. He said he thought Prince Rupert had great potential to make it easier for people who walk or bike.

“Just talking to people about this project, everyone’s been supportive, and everyone has a scary story about walking or driving or biking in town and more people want to ride their bikes too,” he said.

Lightfoot said the purpose of these early presentations is to raise awareness of the concept of complete streets, and promote it so people in the community can begin to ask for them.

“If people don’t know what the potential is then they don’t know what to ask for,” he said.

“These things are happening in cities and towns all over North America, there’s no reason Prince Rupert shouldn’t have it.”