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LETTER: Conflicts growing between traffic and equestrians in Maple Ridge

She and her mount were clipped by a car in 1970s, leaving this rider fearful walking on 132nd Avenue

Dear Editor,

[RE: Maple Ridge resident frustrated with Yennadon traffic congestion, July 29, The News]

As I was finishing this letter, I happened to read Mr. Hurst’s complaint regarding traffic congestion around 232nd [Street].

I wholeheartedly agree that Abernethy [Way] must be extended.

Maybe then commuters will stop using the short span of 132nd [Avenue] from 232nd through to 216th [Streets] as a freeway. I live in hope.

Then a few pages later I came across this cute cartoon caricature of a horse advertising that it will be the new Virtual Assistant for the City of Maple Ridge …. Really?!

If you foolishly think that horses are still a welcome part of Maple Ridge, stop!

A caricature of a vehicle would be far more appropriate.

I toyed with the idea of submitting a name for this cute little horse, but then realized that more than 90 per cent of the population in Maple Ridge are totally surprised when they see a horse.

I often ride through Horseman’s Park, where people are surprised to see a horse. Did we not notice the sign with the name of the park? Did we not notice the sign stating that horses have “right of way” over pedestrians and cyclists in the park?

So… now we come to the incident that lead me to write to The News.

READ OTHER HORSE NEWS:Horse rescued twice by Maple Ridge fire department

I’ve been tempted a number of times, but the incident on the morning of Wednesday July 29 was the last straw.

I was hand-walking my horse along 132nd [Avenue] on my way to ride at Maple Ridge Equestrian Centre (MREC).

Yes, I say hand-walking as I will not ride that stretch of road and haven’t done so in more than 15 years – because of people speeding.

I’ve done this walk for many years with this horse and he has never spooked at traffic.

This stretch of road is now more like Dewdney Trunk [Road] and vehicles speed along in excess of 60km/h.

There is a barrier along most of the length on the north side of the road, so apparently people don’t feel that they need to slow down. The few people who do slow down, actually slow to the speed limit. This is not slowing down people!

How quickly does your vehicle move sideways?

Any horse can move the width of a lane in a split second (barrier or not). Most horses average 1,100lbs… do you seriously think that this will not damage your vehicle?

Notwithstanding, what that impact will do to the horse/rider/handler.

But you don’t care.

After all, it’s “just a horse”, I could always buy another one. Yes, someone actually said that to me.

On this particular morning, I was almost at MREC when I heard a vehicle coming up behind us and a fair amount of rattling, so I knew that this was a truck towing something.

The driver did not slow down, and was easily in excess of 80km/h.

He passed us at a driveway just before MREC.

He hit a rough spot on the road just as he passed and the trailer and contents made a dreadful racket.

The noise un-nerved my usually stoic horse and he spooked into the driveway, luckily for both of us.

Because my attention was on keeping my horse and myself safe I did not get his licence plate. But as I watched him speed away, I was surprised that the large tree stump on the trailer actually stayed on.

You know who you are… it was 8:27 a.m. when you passed me, I was leading a dark-coloured horse and I was wearing a florescent yellow vest that reads: Please Pass Slow and Wide.

Roughly 50 per cent of the people get half of this correct, the remainder is apparently a “work in progress.”

I am quite accustomed to having people ignore what is on my vest and have considered changing it to something more “appropriate” that I’d like to say to the people who speed past me.

So congratulations Mr. A…. (expletive omitted) you have now accomplished what other drivers have not.

Yes, even the commercial truck driver who decided it would be entertaining to release his air brakes as he passed us. Not sure what drugs he was on that day! He received no reaction.

To anyone who saw this truck that morning, and I know there were quite a few, I would appreciate you providing the RCMP with this idiot’s licence plate information. Not that they will do much about it, but maybe it would be a step in the right direction.

To anyone who does not think this is a careless, senseless, and serious incident I challenge you to walk that stretch of road any time of the day and let me know how safe you feel.

As for my brave horse, we headed back along the following morning and he didn’t flinch once as you all sped past us.

Heaven forbid we should take a few seconds out of your precious busy day. I wonder when my life became so much less valuable than yours?

So, if you don’t like seeing horses along the road, take another route.

V.H. Bolger, Maple Ridge

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