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BEPPLE – Welcome to Kamloops’ new group of low-carbon activists

Slogging through snow and puddles on Kamloops’ busiest pedestrian route. (Image: Nancy Bepple)

THANK GOODNESS for Kamloops activists.  More specifically, thank goodness for the Kamloops’ newest group of activists, the Kamloops Association for Low-Carbon Transportation (KALCAT).

The goal of the group is to reduce carbon emissions by improving low-carbon mobility options.  More specifically, they want to improve pedestrian, cycling and transit options in Kamloops.

Last week, KALCAT had its inaugural meeting, at which a board and working groups were formed.  Bravo!

It’s high time more pressure was put on Kamloops City council to improve biking, pedestrian and cycling infrastructure.

Now City Hall might argue things are in the works.  There is a Pedestrian Master Plan, a Bicycle Master Plan and a Transit Master Plan.  They might say things are proceeding as planned.

The only problem is, the plans aren’t enough.  Even with the City’s plans in place, it doesn’t take much effort to see that the car is king in Kamloops.

Take for instance the road on McGill Road between Columbia Street and Summit Drive.  This road’s sidewalk could easily be the busiest section of sidewalk in all of Kamloops.  This sidewalk is used by hundreds, if not thousands of students and staff going to and from Thompson Rivers University daily, as well kids and their parents going to Beattie Elementary, and others.

In the mornings and afternoons, there is literally more foot traffic along this stretch of road than vehicles.

It’s hard to believe that the City of Kamloops gives any mind to pedestrians if this sidewalk is the measure.  Although the City’s own website says they clear the snow on this sidewalk, it is rarely, if ever plowed.  When the snow melts, or rain falls, huge puddles form on the sidewalk because of poor drainage.  In the mornings, with large groups overflowing the sidewalk, people stand in mud at the Summit Drive crossing.

When even the busiest sidewalk in Kamloops has such little care and attention from the City, the bar does not need to go up far for there to be an improvement for pedestrians.  Somewhere in a plan, there is mention of improving the McGill Road corridor, someday, perhaps.  But activists like KALCAT will make it happen sooner.

Transit users need a strong advocate as well.  Take a drive down Tranquille Road on a Sunday afternoon.  At every bus stop, there is 2, 5 or 7 or more people waiting for the bus.  Not at one or two stops, but bus stop after bus stop.

By the time the bus picks everyone up, it’s at capacity.  The Tranquille bus runs every 30 minutes on Sunday afternoons, so it’s not even that convenient.  But people are still taking it.  Imagine how much more it would be used if this bus was actually convenient, and came every 15 minutes on a Sunday, like it does during the weekdays.

The Transit Master plan won’t solve this, because the City of Kamloops is at the behest of BC Transit.  The City only adds capacity when BC Transit gives it extra hours.  What will solve it is grassroots, activist pressure.  What will solve it is when City of Kamloops, BC Transit and ultimately the provincial government feel the pressure of KALCAT and others, and finds the political will to expand transit in Kamloops.

Cycling connectivity on safe routes is an ongoing issue in Kamloops.  For example, there is no way, aside from the highway, to get from Dallas to Valleyview.  Piece by piece the cycling infrastructure is being built.  But until that happens, many in Kamloops do not feel comfortable riding in traffic.  Too many parts of the city have no bike paths and aren’t useable by many cyclists.  Safe bicycle paths are a huge incentive. The Dutch have 35,000 kilometers of cycling paths.  One-quarter of all their trips are by bicycle.

Activism creates political will. The KALCAT could well create the political will to get more cycling paths more quickly in Kamloops.

Activists are sometimes considered negative.  But in terms of moving the dial, and changing policy, activists are what we need to improve walking, cycling and transit options in Kamloops.  The current City of Kamloops plans for pedestrians, cycling and transit aren’t enough.

Good on the KALCAT organizers and the people who’ve joined them.  I wish them well.

Nancy Bepple is a former City councillor of Kamloops with a strong interest in community building projects.

About Mel Rothenburger (7342 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

5 Comments on BEPPLE – Welcome to Kamloops’ new group of low-carbon activists

  1. I agree with Nancy Bepple that advocates light the fires of change. It is important to lend support to groups or organizations that strive to improve health, lifestyle and community for all. That can be as simple as becoming a member (KALCAT, Transition Kamloops, BC Sustainable Energy Association…), or it can involve active participation, financial support, or social media networking.
    Improving infrastructure for self propulsion in Kamloops achieves many wins. It meets the ever increasing demand of current pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users, encourages new users to leave their vehicles at home, improves health and fitness (reducing health care costs), aids the effort to reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, and encourages tourist accessability.
    So, join a group, write a letter to the City of Kamloops, make a donation, or share a post. Thanks Nancy for encouraging community involvement.

  2. 100% on all your points, Nancy. The car is clearly king in Kamloops—pedestrian and cyclist safety still looks like an afterthought, not a priority. (And yes – the sidewalks on the McGill corridor that you mention are treacherous in the winter—they may have been cleared at one point, but they’re pure ice right now.)

  3. Well said, Nancy!

  4. Thanks for this ‘Shout-out’ Nancy. I know the McGill sidewalk issue well and I will add that the curb lane during a melt or rain can be 1/2 to 3/4 filled with water causing pedestrians to be splashed/soaked as cars fail to notice the obvious consequence of driving quickly through a lot of water with pedestrians immediately adjacent. Your photo shows it at ‘low-tide.’ It could be one reason why students in College Heights choose to access Summit from lower on Columbia and then take the short-cut directly across Columbia to TRU.

    For those interested in joining the Association, please go to:
    kalcat.org
    and use the contact information provided. We have just come into existence in the past month and are getting organized.

    Rob Higgins (one of the KALCAT founders)

  5. Hear, hear!

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