Cycling concerns may not rate right up there as a major issue in the federal election, but they shouldn’t be totally ignored either.
The Liberal candidate in the Ottawa Centre riding has highlighted cycling issues in her bid to unseat NDP incumbent Paul Dewar. However, Dewar has been involved in cycling issues. Several years ago he organized a highly successful cycling summit.
At the national level, the neophyte organization “Canada Bikes” is calling on the federal government to develop a National Cycling Strategy (which I think is a great idea). They also point out that over the past 20 years, the US federal government has spent $7.2 billion on bicycle and pedestrian projects. This would be the equivalent of the Canadian federal government spending $800 million (or $40 million a year) on cycling and pedestrian infrastructure and programs.
How realistic is it to expect cycling to be the subject of campaign promises in a federal election? Well, the Conservatives have made it a practice of targeting snowmobilers for funding (a fact that came up again in a recent panel discussions of political pundits on a CTV program). Since there are more cyclists than snowmobilers in Canada, it shouldn’t be too much to expect to have some money targeted at cycling.
And then, there’s the 4.5% tariff increase on most of the bicycles imported into Canada which took effect on January 1st of this year. The Globe and Mail estimated this increase will cost Canadian cyclists between $5 million and $6 million a year.
What makes this so frustrating is that at the same time the government indicated tariffs would be going up on bicycles (in the 2013 federal budget), they announced with great fanfare that they were cutting tariffs on a wide variety of sports and recreational gear, including various hockey, ski, fitness, water sports equipment…. and so on (even lawn bowling balls).
So if any political candidate happens to knock on your door during the election, after voicing your concerns about the big issues facing the country, it wouldn’t hurt to mention cycling.