Advocacy groups call for focus on cycling ahead of B.C. election
B.C. cycling advocates are pushing for more discussion about two-wheeled transportation issues as the provincial election approaches on May 14.
“We’d definitely like the profile raised somewhat and people to start to really talk about it and start to realize the benefits and the potential of cycling, of improving it for all people in British Columbia,” B.C. Cycling Coalition president Richard Campbell told the Straight by phone.
“In large cities it’s a great way to get around to avoid congestion and busy streets. In small communities where they’re not large enough to have a good transit service it’s really the only other option that people have to get around besides driving,” Campbell said.
The nonprofit B.C. Cycling Coalition is calling on the province to take a series of steps to improve the experience for cyclists across the province. A key recommendation is for the province to invest $300 million over four years to upgrade roads and bridges and to help local governments pay for cycling projects.
In its 2013 budget speech, the B.C. government pledged to invest $9 million in cycling infrastructure as part of spending over the next three years on major transportation projects.
“There are definitely good routes in portions of Vancouver and the region. [But] there are a lot of missing links,” Campbell said. “It’s not the case where people can just hop on a bike and go from anywhere to anywhere and expect a safe, quick, convenient route, and especially if they want to cycle around with their children.”
The coalition's other recommendations include updating legislation to make roads safer, improving access to the ferry system, and granting authorities such as TransLink more power to raise funds for cycling projects through measures like a gas tax or tolling. They also call on the province to invest $10 million a year on marketing and promotion of cycling, as well as skills and safety education programs.
The B.C. Cycling Coalition argues the investment in cycling is justified because it will help improve people’s health, boost tourism, reduce air pollution, and provide affordable transportation options.
B.C. transportation minster Mary Polak could not be reached for comment.
Erin O’Melinn, executive director of the Metro Vancouver group HUB: Your Cycling Connection, also called on the B.C. government to do more. She highlighted the need for cycling infrastructure improvements across the region.
O’Melinn said, for example, the shared sidewalk on the Second Narrows Bridge needs to be widened and the Central Valley Greenway route through the suburbs needs to be better connected.
“The province needs to step up and realize cycling is a huge solution that’s very cost-effective and can solve a lot of their problems,” O’Melinn told the Straight by phone.
HUB is a member of the B.C. Cycling Coalition, a provincial umbrella organization for local and regional cycling groups.