● Is it time for a National Cycling Strategy? You Betcha.

Yesterday, MP Gord Johns introduced a private member’s bill in the House of Commons to establish a national cycling strategy. The proposed legislation, Bill C-312, would make the federal Minister of Transport responsible for developing and implementing a national cycling strategy that would, among other things, include measures to

● identify fiscal and policy requirements to encourage commuter, tourism, and recreational cycling;

● help build and maintain cycling infrastructure;

● maximize cycling’s role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions;

● recognize cycling’s contributions to health and well-being;

● outline achievable targets for the growth of commuter cycling; and

● identify import duties and other restrictions that impact the cost of cycling.

In addition to having to conduct broad consultations, Bill C-312 would also require the Minister of Transport to convene a conference with other federal ministers as well as representatives of the provincial, territorial, and municipal governments, Aboriginal communities, cycling organizations, and businesses as part of the process for developing the national cycling strategy.

Gord Johns is a NDP Member of Parliament for a BC riding on Vancouver Island. Not surprisingly, he describes himself as an avid cyclist. He once ran a bike rental operation in Tofino, BC, and nowadays, he regularly cycles to work on Parliament Hill when the House is in session. He does this summer or winter, including the day last winter when Ottawa had a record 51.2 cm snowstorm. He said it was easy because there were no cars on the road that day.

While there are many reasons for adopting a national cycling strategy, Canada clearly needs one to help combat climate change. We know that the transportation sector is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions (the bulk of which comes from motor vehicles), and that one of the most inexpensive and effective ways to lower these carbon emissions is to get more people to use their bicycles for basic transportation. In fact, cycling is the perfect litmus test to see how serious the federal government is about dealing with climate change.

At the national level, the organization “Canada Bikes” has been calling on the federal government to develop a national cycling strategy for a number of years, and they have put out a short, but interesting publication on what could go into such a strategy. They also highlighted an informative document that compares national cycling strategies from various countries around the world.

Although private member’s bills rarely become law, lets hope Bill C-312 can find the necessary support in Parliament, especially with the Liberal Government. If you think it’s time for Canada to adopt a national cycling strategy, you may want to send off an email to your Member of Parliament.


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2 Comments on ● Is it time for a National Cycling Strategy? You Betcha.

  1. anyone else getting busted by all this infrastructure spending though?

    every pathway or roadway I try to turn down, construction and it just seems to be never ending projects…
    The EB Eddy bridge now has one sidewalk closed. Which makes morning commutes a havoc… I typically cross the bridge and have enough time to jump onto the sidewalk while all the Quebec to ontario traffic converges. No one cares in the morning, so it gets tight in there. Now, even tighter.
    Not sure who constructed that bridge, but they did a piss-poor-job… same as the new booth street bridge… someone thinking about only one thing there – vehicle traffic not bikes nor pedestrians… piss-poor-job of planning and delivery.
    Then comes the LRT and that odd ball maze to get from the river to carling… what a mess.

    like to know what others are up against regarding traffic, construction etc…
    doesn’t seem to be getting any better out there does it?

  2. it would be a worthwhile strategy for sure, but with some caution…

    would benefit:
    1) people as fitness levels may go up instead of couch surfers (what we have now)
    2) promote tourism as a livable city. Right now, one can’t even bike in front of parliament safely.. thus, many bike on the side walk because the road in front of parliament doesn’t accommodate cyclists all that well (buses, trucks, lots of traffic)
    3) avoids congestion and reduces traffic, if more people biked our roads would be less congested thus less need for building a huge infrastructure just to accommodate rush hour traffic… thus more taxes required.
    etc… 1001 reasons to promote cycling

    But, with caution:
    1) don’t build empires on cycling, need to keep the community involved in efforts. Thus, its important to have crowd sourcing initiatives, something the feds are horrible at doing for many at the federal level want to protect their empires. Its important to have crowd sourcing to list troubled areas, to allow locals to voice their concerns and expand the cycling network etc…
    2) have to ensure the money gets down to the municipal level. So many times one is biking along then the cycling infrastructure just ends – probably due to lack of funds. The Prince of Whales bridge is a perfect example of this, the city was handed 150M recently, yet none of that money is going into repairing that bridge for cycling/pedestrians, why!?!
    3) need to look at what other countries have done and success rates, so often at the federal level they live in isolation thinking they are the best… yet they are not, other countries have vast lessons learned. We need to look at these and learn from others instead of being narcissistic fools.

    its a good initiative, but proceed with caution when at the federal level…

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