How to get more peo­ple on bi­cy­cles

Waterloo Region Record - - EDITORIALS & COMMENT -

Re: Bike lanes may fail to move us — Dec. 5

Done right, Water­loo Re­gion can get more peo­ple rid­ing bikes. I’m tired of read­ing opin­ions from colum­nists that doubt it is pos­si­ble. There’s noth­ing in­her­ent in our com­mu­nity or the peo­ple who live here that means we can’t see a larger share of us­ing bikes for com­mut­ing or that re­mains unchanged from 20 years ago at one per cent. And you don’t have to look at balmy Vic­to­ria to prove that’s true.

Look at Toronto. Sta­tis­tics from the re­cent cen­sus shows that com­mut­ing by bike is up city-wide. In the core, 15 to 25 per cent of peo­ple commute by bike with some neigh­bour­hoods as high as 33 per cent. High park­ing costs are likely an in­cen­tive but Toronto has also been bold enough to put bike lanes on ma­jor streets like Bloor.

Or look at Cal­gary where cy­cling use dou­bled be­tween 2011 and 2016. In its top 10 cy­cling neigh­bour­hoods, seven to 11 per cent of peo­ple commute by bike. Growth is high­est near its con­nected net­work of bike trails built in 2015. Build it and they will ride.

And not just com­muters who are rid­ing, it’s also peo­ple re­luc­tant to ride a bike inches from a car who feel safe enough if there are phys­i­cally sep­a­rated bike lanes. Par­ents ride with their kids on the road, too, which is some­thing we rarely see here.

The worst thing Water­loo Re­gion can do is give up. We have failed since 1996 due to poor im­ple­men­ta­tion from a lack of com­mit­ment. We need to learn from our mis­takes.

We can start with cost-ef­fec­tive so­lu­tions to test lo­cal re­sponse. But yes, we do need to start shift­ing some of our bud­gets from build­ing roads that only safely work for peo­ple driving cars to ac­tive forms of trans­porta­tion that have been un­der­funded for the last 20 years. James Howe Kitch­ener

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