Letters to the editor, June 6, 2019

These are the letters and comments from this week's print edition.

Stop the bike hate

Upon unleashing the Quinpool Road closure this spring, Halifax has asked its residents to cooperate and find alternate means of commuting into the downtown core. Propaganda has asked us to consider the bus or active transport such as cycling. The flaw with this thinking is the outright hatred among many Haligonian automobile drivers toward cyclists.

My family lives in Fairview and commutes to the downtown core every day. My wife and I take turns towing a brightly marked trailer with our three-year-old inside, and have come to enjoy it. We realize that the trailer is low and may not be as visible, so the one of us not actively towing follows behind as a marker. It takes less time, we get to be active and are doing our part to take traffic off of the road. We stick to the frustratingly discontinuous bike paths and side streets, but have a couple of pinch points that we must navigate. If traffic isn't bad, we stay on the road. If it is heavy, we get off and walk the sidewalk.

While walking a stretch of sidewalk with my bike, trailer in tow, I had a construction worker pick a fight and tell me I need to decide whether I was bicycle or a pedestrian. I thought the fact that I was on foot made this clear—I guess not. Multiple times while trying to walk across the Armdale roundabout, in a marked crosswalk, I have been completely ignored while five cars passed through.

Recently, my wife called the "rant line" of a Halifax radio station with hopes of raising awareness of the situation and making bicycles more noticeable. The ridicule by the hosts after airing the recording highlights the problem we have as a city: There is no place for cyclists in Halifax.

This implies that no pedestrian is ever safe. These hosts are influential people who can sway public opinion, and they went to great lengths to twist the situation and demonize cyclists. I feel less safe now than I did before.

I get that there are some bad cyclists. I've seen people weave in and out of lanes in traffic. I've seen them riding on the sidewalk, road, sidewalk, et cetera. However, projecting hatred toward all cyclists is not the answer. I've seen pickup divers not yield, or overdrive winter conditions because their four-wheel drive makes them invincible. That doesn't mean we need to hate all truck drivers.

How do we fix this? With public opinion being swayed by ignorant but influential people, it is going to be an uphill battle. How is a cyclist supposed to get safely down Bayers Road, through the Windsor Street exchange or down Quinpool, once it opens again? How does a cyclist deal with getting between discontinuous bike lanes? What about the downtown core where delivery vehicles are constantly parked in any given block of the Hollis Street bike lane? If Halifax wants to relieve traffic stress, it needs to actively develop infrastructure to support alternative transportation. — Matt Himmelman, Halifax

Chaplain check-in

Masuma Khan's recent Opinionated piece highlights one of the many disparities that religious minorities face within the corrections system ("Ramadan supports unavailable for prisoners in Burnside," May 16). However, she finishes her article with the assumption that there is a Christian chaplain at Burnside who has chosen not to act on behalf of Muslim inmates.

While individuals or ministers from Christian communities (any religious communities) may visit with inmates and provide religious services, Burnside does not have a staff chaplain. If they did, that chaplain—like all chaplains hired by the provincial and federal government—would function in an interfaith capacity, adhering to a code of ethics which requires us to provide religious care, spiritual care, advocacy and community liaison services to every person, regardless of their belief system.

This isn't about a chaplain who doesn't care. This is about Corrections Canada, which doesn't care about the religious and spiritual needs of any inmates, much less religious minorities. —Katie Aven, MDiv, CSCP (Certified Spiritual Care Practitioner)

Ms. Khan misses the point. They are PRISONERS for breaking the law. They have given up their rights like all prisoners, no matter what religion. Will they want special food and birthday parties with cannabis next? —A. Prisoner, Halifax

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