Ottawa’s recently announced $14.9 billion investment in public transit includes a chunk of change that will help users of the humble bicycle.
About $400 million over five years is set aside to build new bike lanes, bike paths, trails, and pedestrian bridges across the country. Some of that money will doubtless settle on our community, where it can be put immediately to good use – local cyclists can doubtless already think of a few stretches of road that would be less harrowing with a bike lane.
During the pandemic, thousands of Canadians rediscovered the joy of cycling. With gyms closed and road trips officially discouraged, getting outdoors for some fresh air, exercise, and often family time was easily achieved on two wheels.
Cycling promotes good overall health, it’s fun (when it’s not dumping rain) and it’s a clean, carbon-free method of transportation. It’s not even that hard to get up hills if you buy one of the new electric assist bikes.
Unfortunately, despite a lot of talk by politicians, bike infrastructure tends to come near the bottom of priority lists. With thousands of new cyclists created by the pandemic, perhaps this federal investment will be the first sign of a real increase in taking cycling seriously as a method of transportation in Canada.
If you enjoy cycling, let your MLA and MP know, and phone up your mayor and a couple of councillors as well.
We need new bike trails and lanes, but also changes in the way we design cities and new buildings – we need dedicated bike parking, easier access to parking lots, schools, and civic buildings in a way that keeps cyclists safe from auto traffic.
It’s going to cost a lot more than $400 million to make the needed upgrades across Canada, and it’ll take more political action, at all levels, to make cycling a really key part of our transportation mix.