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  • Writer's pictureThe Low Down

Chelsea: follow expert advice, not local advice

The Editor,

In response to Penny Allan’s column in last week’s Valley Voices, “Trail incident calls for municipal action,” (June 7 edition), it was a frightening experience for both the motorist, who got yelled at, and for the cyclist, who was almost hit. I am sure that many of us would also react with strong emotions if we were almost hit by a large motor vehicle, and some would even resort to using more colourful language. In any case, we can certainly understand how both parties may have been shaken by the experience. The reality is the intersection’s design is a compromise.


To give a little bit of back story: Les Amis de la Voie Verte (VVC) contracted Vélo Québec in 2019 to provide an expert opinion of the trail and each of its intersections. Vélo Québec offers expert expertise for both pedestrian and bike infrastructure design both to cycling user groups and to the province via the Ministère des Transports du Québec (MTQ). Vélo Québec’s report recommended maintaining the stop signs that existed at most of the intersections, including the one where this “near” incident occurred. Originally the municipality followed this advice and maintained the stop signs for the roads that cross the trail. Unfortunately, following consultation with the MTQ and neighbourhood pressure from vocal residents, Chelsea backtracked, removed the stop signs on the roads and opted to replace them with yield signs on the trail.


Ms. Allan is also correct, in that the municipality temporarily located sawhorses to create barriers to slow the trail for active users. Placing the sawhorse went against accepted practices for ensuring safety and encouraging active transportation. The temporary barriers were responsible for several cyclists falling off their bikes and being injured. They were ultimately replaced by single bollards physically marking the trail intersections.


Ms. Allan requests that council follow “local” advice. We recommend that Chelsea follow expert advice as provided by Vélo Québec. In the absence of action to restore the stop signs, we would like council to recognize each of the trail crossings as an official pedestrian/active user crossing, where it is clear that the active user has right of way. The trail is now six years old and we have had no accidents between cars and cyclists. The VVC is an amazing community asset. Most trail users are respectful and follow the code of conduct. But the thing that thrills us the most is that, from the trail data, 80 per cent of trail usage is by residents.


Sandy Foote, president Les Amis de la Voie Verte

Andy Ball, director Les Amis de la Voie Vert, co-president SAFE Chelsea

Cheslea, QC

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