A one-year experiment in Whitehorse, investigating the merits of opening gates to some of the city's non-motorized pathways, has ended in frustration for some cyclists.
The City of Whitehorse has announced most access gates will now remain closed, citing "limited positive feedback," and five online reports of vehicles using the multi-use trails.
The pilot project started in August 2022, prompted by a request from the Whitehorse Urban Cycling Coalition.
The city swung open the access gates to eight non-motorized, multi-use trails around town, in a bid to find out if it made life easier for cyclists and people with disabilities.
The City of Whitehorse says there were 5 online reports of vehicles using the trails during its pilot project. (Active Trails Whitehorse Association)
Trail users had previously reported having to traverse narrow, uneven, rough, and sometimes snow-laden side trails around the gates.
The city also wanted to find out if the gates were truly necessary for keeping vehicles off the pathways.
A summary report of the pilot project said there was "poor compliance" with the trail rules.
It had received five online reports of vehicles driving on the pathways.
"Vehicles on the paved trail caused property damage and a significant safety concern," the report states.
People had also complained about "an increase in trail user's speed at high conflict intersections," it says.
"The risks outweigh the benefits... a redesign of gates or an alternative installation that improves access around them for intended users should be explored."
'The risks outweigh the benefits' of keeping the gates open, reads a city report. (Paul Tukker/CBC)
Nobody from the city was made available to talk about the project.
Forest Pearson of the Whitehorse Urban Cycling Coalition said the report was "pretty troubling and quite disappointing, frankly."
"I don't think it shows a very progressive or good faith approach," he said.
"There's enough barriers in the Yukon to cycling, we don't want to create more."
He said it didn't seem as if the city had consulted any of the people making use of the open gates.
"There were probably ... thousands of active transportation commutes — kids getting to school, people going to get groceries moving around — and there's no data on the benefits to to those people."
Forest Pearson of the Whitehorse Urban Cycling Coalition described the city's report as 'pretty troubling and quite disappointing.' (Submitted by Forest Pearson)
According to Pearson, coalition members said the open gates "just makes their life easier."
"A lot of the gates have these spike-like contraptions. I think I'm a fairly confident cyclist, but to me they're terrifying. I'm always afraid of getting impaled on them. So I can't imagine what it does to someone who's not as confident," Pearson said.
He said the reports of cars driving on the trails were not a major concern.
"I think we have those threats every time we head out on the streets. The occasional kid on a quad is not what we're worried about here, especially on a low speed environment like a multi use trail," he said.