It’s Election Time – DON’T LET ONTARIO FALL BEHIND!
This year, Ontario will be investing $93 million to provide safe and low-cost commuting options for residents by enabling people to ride their bikes. This represents a doubling of the initial $42.5 million investment announced earlier last year.
Through #CycleON (Ontario’s cycling strategy), the province has laid out an ambitious 20-year vision for becoming the most bicycle-friendly jurisdiction in Canada. A key part of achieving this goal includes funding municipal infrastructure and building communities that support and promote cycling for all trips under 5km.
- The City of Peterborough has received $841,499 from the Ontario Municipal Commuter Cycling Program (OMCC)
- The County of Peterborough has received $300,089 from OMCC
- Selwyn Township has received $87,236 through OMCC
WHEN ONTARIO BIKES, ONTARIO BENEFITS
Whether you cycle or not, cycling provides benefits to you. In terms of Provincial benefits, take a look at these:
- Healthier Ontario – We are in a physical activity crisis and 25% of healthcare costs are due to preventable diseases that are often connected to lack of physical activity.
- Budget Savings – Other than walking, cycling represents the least drain on taxpayer dollars.
- Safer Communities – When a road has cycling infrastructure, there are fewer collisions of all types.
- Economic Benefits – In Quebec, spin-off benefits of cycling add up to more than $130 million per year. An integrated bike plan for Ontario would generate over $500 million annually in benefits.
WHAT YOU CAN ASK YOUR CANDIDATES
- Will you support funding for cycling infrastructure? To what extent? A guaranteed share of the transportation budget. Share the Road, a provincial cycling advocacy organization, suggests that at least 1% (+/- $25M) of the transportation budget be allocated to bicycle infrastructure. Three quarters of Ontarians believe that more people would ride bikes if there were more and better cycling infrastructure.
- Would you continue to fund this through the Climate Action Fund? If not, how would you fund it?
- Do you support the continued implementation of the Cycling Action Plan 2.0?
- Would you support the creation of an Assistant Deputy Minister position in the transportation department whose role would be the Active Transportation coordinator tying policy and planning across ministries?
- Do you support cycling education in schools and Active and Safe Routes to School programs? How would you fund them? As part of its childhood obesity initiative, the provincial government should fully fund local active and safe routes to school programs. Every school should have a “School Travel Plan” which outlines and promotes active school travel options.
- How would you implement the recommendations of the Ontario Coroner? In particular, through a complete streets policy the provincial government should follow through on the 14 recommendations in the Ontario Coroner’s Cycling Death Review.
- Ontario wants to ride safely. Here are some surprising numbers: 17% of Ontario adults ride weekly, 5% ride daily, 69% would prefer to cycle more often, 70% say ‘where I live, cyclists need more bike lanes or paved shoulders.’
Queen’s Park has begun to take a leading role in making roads safer in rural and urban areas across Ontario. It’s imperative that Queen’s Park continue to encourage municipalities with financial and policy support to build integrated cycling infrastructure and educational programming for cyclists and drivers.
UPDATE: We asked the parties directly. Here is what they said.
And finally, here is a link to the Election Toolkit from SharetheRoad.
Other initiatives Ontario is taking to become more bike friendly are:
- Ontario Bikeway Network Study – This is the preliminary identification of a province-wide cycling network intended to inform and guide the future of cycling infrastructure decisions with the goal of establishing a connected and consistent network across the Province.
- Development of a cycling education program for Ontario, including in schools
Ontario needs to set a goal of 10% of transportation trips made by cycling by 2022. (Ontario is currently 1.7%, Peterborough is 4%)