Thursday, 29 August 2013 20:56
2013-08-30 Minister of Cycling announces Strategic Document for cycling in Ontario
On August 30, 2013 at 2:30, Minister Glenn Murray of the Ontario Ministry of Transportation & Ministry of Infrastructure released the Ontario Cycling Strategy. The 42 page document (which was on line for a few days already if you had Googled for the strategy, hence the early screen shots) describes in detail the vision, aspirational goals and strategic goals of the Ministry for 2033. The Ministry and the those who helped with input clearly borrowed a page from the Netherlands, where most of it is already in place. Citizens for Safe Cycling, Ottawa's cycling advocacy group since 1984, submitted input, together with many other Ontario based groups, consultants and paid professionals. Here is a very brief summary for those of the Twitter generation:
Cycling in Ontario is recognized, respected, and valued as a core mode of transportation that provides individuals and communities with health, economic, environmental, social and other benefits.
Aspirational Goals for 2033
Top 10 world wide: Ontario is recognized as the best Canadian province for cycling and ranked among the top 10 jurisdictions worldwide for cycling. At least one Ontario city is ranked among the 10 most bike-friendly cities in the world. (Think greater Amsterdam, Groningen, Borne etc - CfSC)
The built environment in most Ontario communities supports and promotes cycling for all trips under 5 km. (This one was an important one for us, as most bike trips fall in that category - CfSC)
Ontario’s cycling environment is safe for people of all ages, striving to achieve a record of zero fatalities and few serious injuries. (that is a tough one, even in the Netherlands, the safest cycling country in the world, there are still 200 bike traffic deaths a year - CfSC)
Ontario’s cities and towns have interconnected networks of safe cycling routes enabling people to cycle to work, school, home and key destinations. (Think Ottawa's pathways, Laurier Bike Lane, East-West Corridor - CfSC)
Ontario has an integrated province-wide network of cycling routes.(That is bike routes, likely all on shoulders and rail to trail stuff - CfSC)
Strategic directions for 2033
At the heart of the Strategy are a bold Vision, ambitious Goals and a set of carefully targeted Strategic Directions. These will guide the development of policies, programs and legislation over the next 20 years. Achieving the Strategy’s Vision requires a commitment from all partners for integrated action to:
1 Design healthy, active and prosperous communities
2 Improve cycling infrastructure
3 Make highways and streets safer
4 Promote cycling awareness and behavioural shifts
5 Increase cycling tourism in Ontario
Ontario’s Cycling Strategy will be implemented through ongoing, multi-year Action Plans.
Real work starts now
Strategies are patient, paper too. But without a strategy, you can't start, else you end up running around like a headless chicken. Now the real work starts: from working the law makers who need to change the Highway Traffic Act to convincing engineers that the bridge building code needs to be changed to make space for cyclists. You won't see much happening in the first 5 to 10 years and certainly not many bike lanes as many rules and regulations have to be adjusted. However, there are a few important items such as education in schools, the space for municipalities to set up pilot projects etc.
What is really going to be a pain in the bum is going to try to convince other departments to join in, like the Ministry of Education, Environment, Justice to name but a few and build alliances across the several ministries. Much of what you can do as a citizen is locally based, like asking for modifications at Open Houses when new plans are presented, asking your councillor or Provincial Member of Parliament (do you know him or her?) to pay attention to cycling. Of course, we remind you to become a member of your local cycling advocacy group, Citizens for Safe Cycling. Become a member now by clicking here. It will likely also give municipalities more room to experiment. That is hard in places like Toronto, but it might be great for the Wawa's and Tweeds of this world, where decision making is likely much easier.
Great for advocacy
The best thing though is that advocacy groups can take the document in their hands and say:"Hey province, this is what you wrote, and this is what you are (not) doing". The next three to five years will prove if the document has teeth.
There is no money attached to this strategy yet, however the Minister mentioned he wants to have more structured and coordinated funding and wants to do an announcement in spring next year. Coordinated as in laws and education going hand in hand. He'll have to find big bags of money to even make a dent in the bike modal share, think a billion dollars a year at least for province wide improvements. Because the bottom line is that if people don't feel safe (perceived or not, that is not the point here), they won't start cycling. We thought it was interesting that the helmet has not been mentioned once. The Minister clearly stayed away from that.
You can find the document here: Ontario Cycling Strategy
Read a blog on the strategy: Going Dutch? Ontario's Cycling Strategy released