Prince Rupert Grad Reflects on Streets - An Interview with Isobel LeBlanc

CS4PR: Hi Isobel. Tell us about yourself.

Isobel: Hi. My name is Isobel LeBlanc and I am a university student and I am taking a Natural Resource Planning bachelor with a minor in Environmental Sciences.

CS4PR: What got you interested in the program you’re studying now?

Isobel: I was always really interested in design and architecture and sciences and then I was talking to an academic advisor and they said that this program sort of puts that all together. I read about it and read about some studies that people did on urban planning and it really enticed me to do this as my degree.

CS4PR: So what got you interested in complete streets?

Isobel: I actually heard about it at Seafest and then my mom told me about it as well when I started doing my degree saying that it would be something that I would be interested in since it has to do with planning. I just found that it was a really good idea since so many people are biking now in Prince Rupert. It’s really become a big thing, but there are no bike lanes to separate people from the cars.

CS4PR: Do you think that people would bike even more if there were some protection from vehicles?

Isobel: I think that they would because they would feel safer... even if you put trees or something on the side of the sidewalk more people would tend to walk on them .… [T]hey feel more separated from the cars and less at risk.

CS4PR: How do you think it would be different if the streets of Prince Rupert were safer, more accessible and more enjoyable for people who walk, bike, drive and use the bus?

Isobel: I think that more people would find it enjoyable to bike having those bike lanes to separate them from the cars and also more enjoyable to walk because they would have the sidewalk [and] a bike lane…. I think it would also speed up traffic some more because there wouldn’t be so many bikes and other people on the roads. It would allow them a safer commute to work, school, etc.

CS4PR: So if there were fewer bikes on the road competing with cars, getting around would be easier for drivers as well.

Isobel: Yes. Some bikers don’t know how to signal very well, like hand signals, so it’s hard to tell where they’re going and sometimes drivers get very leery of that and they get a little scared to go near the bikers. Drivers will try to move over and weave through traffic which can also cause other drivers to be more at risk because they don’t know where the car is going if they keep weaving and switching lanes all the time.

CS4PR: I know that you just finished high school in Prince Rupert and, as a former student here, why do you think more students don’t walk or bike to school?

Isobel: Well, personally, my commute time would have been way too long for me to be able to get to school on foot on time - wake up, get ready and everything, especially going to school early for band. But, I think the main reason why other people don’t is the convenience that cars give them. It’s convenient for kids to get a ride to school from their parents on their way to work. There are also no bike lanes really for kids to get to school or work. Many parents don’t want their kids to bike because there is no lane. They find it dangerous for their kids to bike alongside of cars and the traffic of the container trucks.

CS4PR: What do you think Prince Rupert is doing well now in terms of mobility?

Isobel: I think our roads are very good. We have a lot of crosswalks now and the way that we direct traffic now is really good in town. I also think we have sidewalks everywhere which allows people to walk throughout the whole town, minus along some of the highway-type roads. But other than that, I think it’s been a well-thought out thing we’ve done.

CS4PR: What do you think Rupert could do better in terms of mobility?

Isobel: I think dividing people from the traffic would be helpful. It would allow people a safer place to walk. As well, adding bike lanes would create safer routes for bikers and people using wheelchairs. People feel safer when there’s a separation from the road. Also, people using the crosswalks have been hit multiple times. That’s something that we also need to improve - people should be able to cross the street more easily to get to where they need to go.

CS4PR: Thanks so much, Isobel. Good luck on your studies!

(Isobel’s interview was edited slightly for length and clarity.)