Why call for safety on accident-free trail?
Updated: Sep 2, 2022
Two years; over 4,000 users per month; zero reported accidents.
Is the Voie Verte really so unsafe?
Anybody reading the Low Down lately will agree that Chelsea’s stunning 22-kilometre walking, biking, and skiing trail has been getting bad press.
After a reports of a potential trail prowler to police in mid-July left a teenager shaken - and a subsequent story about trail safety concerns from a group of Farm Point residents was published in the pages of this newspaper, readers may be wondering how bad the Chelsea trail really is.
According to Chelsea mayor Pierre Guénard, not so bad.
Ever since the Voie Verte officially opened in November of 2020, residents in Chelsea have been divided over its use. They’ve been fighting over who can use the trail and at what speeds cyclists and e-bikes should be travelling. They’ve been trading barbs on Facebook over noise complaints and safety concerns and battling over who has the right of way when cyclists and stroller-pushers clash.
The latest round of complaints come from a group in Farm Point who say they’ve been asking for additional safety measures on the trail for two years. The group spoke of several “near misses” with cyclists while walking the trail and worry that someone will be seriously injured or killed before additional safety measures are implemented. These are legitimate concerns. Residents should always feel safe and comfortable while walking, biking, skiing or hiking in their neighbourhoods. But the narrative that is starting to spill out in this newspaper and on social media pages is a NIMBY attitude towards a gorgeous trail that so many people use and love.
According to Guénard, more than 4,000 monthly users are cycling, walking, and strolling the Chelsea trail at Kirk’s Ferry and Mill Road, with municipal trail counters capturing an additional 1,000 users per week at Farm Point and Fleury Road. The data is difficult to analyze accurately, as some users could be counted several times if they travel past multiple counters. But if you count back two years, the numbers suggest that there have been tens of thousands of trips on Chelsea’s green trail. That’s a lot of users. Guénard told the Low Down that since the trail opened in November 2020, there have been zero reported accidents.
This Farm Point group says they been calling for action on more safety for the past two years. But the past two years have been accident-free, so wouldn’t one assume that the trail is relatively safe? Are we blowing this all out of proportion to satisfy a few NIMBY residents? Does the noisy stroller wheel always have to get the grease?
Guénard did admit that the biggest complaint the municipality gets is around speed. He added that Chelsea still has some work to do to ensure cyclists are adhering to the 20 km/h limit. But as with anything new, there will be some kinks to work out.
Let’s all relax, slow down, courteously, and move to the side when another user needs to get by. Let’s give Chelsea the time it needs to work with partners entier Chelsea Trail and les Amis du Voie Verte Chelsea to make the trail a better experience for all users.