The City of Chilliwack is backing away from a plan to close sections of the Vedder Rotary Trail to cyclists and equestrians.
When the Chilliwack Progress reported Sunday that a large chunk of the popular trail running along the banks of the Vedder River would be pedestrian-only due to COVID-19 physical distancing concerns, public reaction was strong.
Cyclists and equestrians felt singled out by the changes, which would have forced them to take lengthy detours on both sides of the river onto the North and South Dyke trails.
“Over the weekend we received substantial push-back from trail users, and many comments received were requesting multi-use status be re-established,” City of Chilliwack spokesperson Glen MacPherson said. “Many of those comments from the public were assuring the City’s operations department that physical distancing measures would be strictly adhered to by cyclists and equestrians if multi-user status was to be re-established.”
Signs have been posted recently asking cyclists to give pedestrians warning by voice or bell as they approach, so pedestrians have time to move to the right and give two metres clearance for cyclists to pass on the left.
MacPherson visited the trail in person on the weekend and spoke to several people. He heard that most pedestrians and cyclists appear to be observing this guideline.
But some are not.
MacPherson said the Vedder Rotary Trail will continue to be monitored, and if there is a sense that public health is being compromised then restrictions may return.
For people who remain concerned about physical distancing but still want to enjoy the trail, he said there are sections that are wider and less busy. Signage with maps is installed wherever these diversion trails are available, to let trail users know the location of alternative routes.