COLUMN: How to make BOB bike-friendly

Councillor Robin Cherbo on hospital jobs, Stores to Shores, and the challenges of biking in Nelson.

This has been a busy year so far as other councillors have noted. There are some things out of our control such as the closure of Broader Horizons for the summer and potential closure of the Kootenay Lake Hospital laundry. To add to the summer heat is the ongoing construction in the downtown area.

We all have brought up our concerns about the closure of Broader Horizons adult day centre for the summer as well as the apprehension that the program will not open up again in September.

This closure affects a lot of seniors and families who rely on this program for outings and respite and it would be very upsetting if Interior Health Authority did not continue the program. As well we have an ongoing concern about the closing of the Kootenay Lake Hospital laundry service which would cause the loss of a number of well-paying jobs in our community.

Hopefully common sense prevails with both these issues. Unfortunately, the government and Interior Health Authority have a poor track record on these types of issues which result in the loss of good paying jobs in local communities in support of privatization and contracting out.

While we are meeting IHA on the issue of people with mental illness there should be discussions added in regards to Broader Horizons and the contracting out of hospital laundry services.

Everyone is looking forward to the completion of the Stores to Shores project in order to get downtown Nelson back to normal operations and hopefully have the completed project meet all the expectations.

The project has been tough on local business and confusing to some drivers. We all hope it will be completed as soon as possible. Please remember these businesses are open and they need local support during the road construction.

As Vernon St. is the pedal bike route through town to High St. and onto Nelson Ave., this route has a number of challenges, such as angle parking on Vernon St., narrow streets on Edgewood and High St. along with no dedicated bike lane on Nelson Ave.

For the Cyswog and MS Bike Ride in August, the next encounter is the Big Orange Bridge (BOB) which is narrow and has nasty little sunken catch basins next to the sidewalks. One solution for BOB is to get rid of one sidewalk to make more room for bikes lanes on the bridge deck.

A better long-term solution for BOB and the other highway bridges in the area is to remove the concrete sidewalks and add a metal sidewalk on the outside along the length of the bridges to increase bridge deck area for bike lanes. This is an expensive proposal, but with the increasing traffic flow along with bike riders, planning should begin now to upgrade the major bridges for the safety of motorists and pedal bike riders alike.

Nelson city councillor Robin Cherbo shares this space weekly with his council colleagues.

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