How to get more people on bicycles
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