Sher­brooke Can­di­dates pe­ti­tioned for po­si­tion on ac­tive trans­port

Sherbrooke Record - - LOCAL NEWS - By Gor­don Lam­bie

For many, a bike ride sounds like a nice way to spend a sunny sum­mer af­ter­noon. The mem­bers of one cit­i­zens group in Sher­brooke, how­ever, want to see bi­cy­cling and walk­ing take off as a ma­jor form of pub­lic trans­porta­tion in the city and are ask­ing those in­di­vid­u­als who are run­ning for a po­si­tion on the city’s mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil to take a po­si­tion on the mat­ter.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of lo­cal or­ga­ni­za­tions rang­ing from the FEUS, the Uni­ver­sity of Sher­brooke’s stu­dent union, to the CRE, the East­ern Town­ships’ re­gional coun­cil for the en­vi­ron­ment, gath­ered to­gether to present the re­sults of an on­line pe­ti­tion on the sub­ject of de­vel­op­ing ac­tive trans­port in the city gath­ered at Sher­brooke’s Car­refour de Sol­i­dar­ité In­ter­na­tionale ear­lier this week. While form­ing no uni­fied group, the dif­fer­ent or­ga­ni­za­tions were brought to­gether by their col­lec­tive con­cerns and man­aged to so­licit more than 1000 sig­na­tures for their pe­ti­tion in less than one month’s time.

The four de­mands laid out in the pe­ti­tion, en­ti­tled “Élec­tions mu­nic­i­pales 2017 : Faire du trans­port ac­tif une pri­or­ité à Sher­brooke” are for can­di­dates to com­mit to:

1) Im­ple­ment, as soon as pos­si­ble, safe and prac­ti­cal bi­cy­cle routes to the city's ma­jor cen­ters, such as the CHUS Fleu­ri­mont and the Univer­sité de Sher­brooke cam­pus, pri­mar­ily along ma­jor tran­sit routes like King Street, Galt, Port­land, and 12th Av­enue.

2) In­te­grate in­fra­struc­ture that sup­port ac­tive trans­port into all fu­ture road work and ma­jor con­struc­tion projects.

3) Pri­or­i­tize the in­ter­na­tional “vi­sion zero” ap­proach to road safety, which aims for a road net­work with no fa­tal­i­ties or se­ri­ous in­juries, though the in­stal­la­tion of more side­walks, speed bumps, re­duced speed zones, buf­fer zones, and nar­rowed road­ways.

4) Fo­cus new de­vel­op­ment projects within the ex­ist­ing city lim­its to help con­cen­trate pop­u­la­tion and bring peo­ple and ser­vices closer to­gether.

Sher­brooke al­ready has a mas­ter plan for ac­tive trans­port de­vel­op­ment, but those speak­ing on Mon­day ex­plained that they do not feel the city has pri­or­i­tized the op­tion, and that the fail­ure to do so has a neg­a­tive ef­fect on many as­pects of lo­cal so­ci­ety.

“We are not alone in think­ing that Sher­brooke should make this a pol­icy pri­or­ity,” said Lau­rence Mail­hiot, spokesper­son for the sig­na­to­ries of the pe­ti­tion.

The groups back­ing the pe­ti­tion ar­gued in favour of ac­tive trans­port us­ing po­si­tions that ranged from the fact that walk­ing and cy­cling is bet­ter for peo­ples’ health than driv­ing, to the fact that it is bet­ter for the en­vi­ron­ment and just takes up less space than cars.

Dr. Éric Lam­pron-goulet of the pub­lic health de­part­ment of the CIUSSS de l’es­trie-chus, the re­gional health­care in­sti­tu­tion, un­der­lined the health ben­e­fits of ac­tive trans­port.

“Ac­tive trans­port is a well known and proven pub­lic health strat­egy,” Lam­pron­goulet said point­ing out that adopt­ing more phys­i­cal ways of get­ting from point a to point b has mea­sur­able pos­i­tive im­pacts on a per­son’s phys­i­cal well­be­ing.

Ar­naud Messier-may­nard of the Sher­brooke col­lec­tive for sus­tain­able ur­ban plan­ning noted that ac­tive trans­port sys­tems are best suited to close-knit ur­ban en­vi­ron­ments. He sug­gested that by in­vest­ing in the nec­es­sary in­fra­struc­ture to link the city with bike paths and side­walks, the com­mu­nity of Sher­brooke would grow closer to­gether and stronger as a whole

Rémi Proteau, who spoke on be­half of the La Déraille cy­cling co­op­er­a­tive, ex­plained that hav­ing an ac­ces­si­ble cy­cling net­work also means com­mit­ting to safe and re­li­able in­fra­struc­ture. He un­der­lined the need for adapted paths and the in­stal­la­tion of speed bumps and other mech­a­nisms to slow traf­fic in the name of bring­ing the number of se­ri­ous or fa­tal road ac­ci­dents in the city to zero.

“Mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ments are the ones that have the most in­flu­ence on our daily con­cerns,” said François Pronovost, Vice-pres­i­dent of de­vel­op­ment and pub­lic af­fairs with Velo Que­bec, ex­plain­ing the rea­son­ing be­hind bring­ing the is­sue up dur­ing a mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion cam­paign. “When it comes to bi­cy­cles , it is un­de­ni­able that ev­ery­thing, or nearly ev­ery­thing, hap­pens at the mu­nic­i­pal level.”

GOR­DON LAM­BIE

Genevieve Pomer­leau of the Con­seil re­gional de l'en­vi­ron­nement de L'es­trie, Remi Proteau of the La Deraille co­op­er­a­tive, Gabrielle Le­tarte-dupre of the Uni­ver­sity of Sher­brooke Stu­dent Fed­er­a­tion, pe­ti­tion spokesper­son Lau­rence Mail­hiot, Dr. Eric Lam­pron-goulet of the CIUSSS de l'es­trie-chus, Ar­naud Messier-may­nard of the Sher­brooke col­lec­tive for sus­tain­able ur­ban plan­ning, and pe­ti­tion sig­na­tory Vin­cent Bois­clair

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