Fifteen people rode together in a cycling convoy along the Alaska Highway last week to bring attention to the lack of a crossing connecting Hillcrest to the airport trail.
The ride, which took place the morning of May 30, was organized by the Hillcrest Community Association.
Dan Bader, director of the HCA, says the issue is one that’s been important to the association for a few years now.
“It’s something the association has heard a lot about,” he told the News on June 5. “I think the former government’s plan to twin the highways sparked a lot of interest in how do we get across?”
Even though the twinning project never came to be, Bader says the question of crossing remains.
He says it’s also got support from residents of Copper Ridge, who come through Hillcrest to access the airport trail.
The proposed bicycle network plan for the City of Whitehorse includes a path that runs down Hillcrest Drive and continues along the airport trail on the other side of the Alaska Highway, but Bader says that can’t be realized without a safe highway crossing.
In the last year, Bader says the HCA has met with Economic Development Minister Ranj Pillai, Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn and Tourism, Culture and Heritage Minister and Mountainview MLA Jeanie Dendys.
He says the association was told a Hillcrest crossing wouldn’t be a consideration for at least another four to five years.
The government didn’t make anyone available for an interview, but emailed a statement saying they “need to gather better information about pedestrian and vehicular traffic in that area.”
Bader says one cyclist was hit and seriously injured last year and anecdotal evidence suggests traffic is increasing year to year. Bader says it will only get worse if a proposed North 60 Petro gas station is built along the highway.
He also says the HCA was told there were higher priority areas, including intersections at the South Klondike Highway, the North Klondike Highway, Two Mile Hill, and Robert Service Way.
“The fact is all those other intersections are controlled,” says Bader. “They’re imperfect, but they have a light and turning lanes and they’re functioning modern design intersections, whereas Hillcrest has five uncontrolled exits and entrances from the highway within a couple hundred metres.”
He says the HCA isn’t asking for bikes to take priority starting tomorrow, but to be given consideration.
“Really, the goal here is to get a commitment to get it done,” says Bader.
“You get out there some days at 8:30 a.m. and it’s a long wait. Which, you know it will still be a wait with a traffic light, but at least you know it’s coming.”
Contact Amy Kenny at firstname.lastname@example.org