Hey MGCC’rs on Wednesday April 25th I headed down to the Ontario Bike Summit (#OBS2012) on behalf of your cycling advocacy committee. It was a great event to promote cycling in Ontario. #OBS2012 is the brain child of Share the Road [www.sharetheroad.ca]. This year Share the Road set the following mandate for the conference:
· To share information on how to develop a “Share the Road’ campaign in partnership with local law enforcement, media and other community partners
· To demonstrate innovative methods for mobilizing community resources, creating momentum and achieving success
· To share research and information on the connection between public health and the built environment
· To share tips and ideas on how to work more effectively with local governments to advance cycling -- including strategies for securing more support from the province
· To share data and research that you will help you “make the case” for enhanced cycling
· To Inspire bicycle friendly cities on the 5 “Es” of a Bicycle Friendly Community: Environment, Encouragement, Environment, Education and Evaluation and Planning
Here are some of the great things I learned at the Conference:
1) CAA Bike Assist Program [http://www.caasco.com/automotive/roadside-service/caa-bike-assist.jsp]: Have a CAA membership? Good news, it covers you on your bike! “If you run into a problem that cannot be fixed on the spot, CAA will transport you and your bicycle to wherever.” More on the CA Bike Assist program can be found here[http://www.caasco.com/automotive/roadside-service/caa-bike-assist-faq.jsp].
2) More people would ride more if cycling was Safer and there was more cycling Infrastructure (i.e bike lanes, shared lanes, etc). Some numbers from CAA: 60% of members and non-members from CAA want to see more cycling infrastructure in cities, 70% of Ontario’s population thinks more needs to be done for cycling (i.e. Share the road campaigns, safety, awareness, etc). Share the Road is asking the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) to dedicate $25M (1/8th of 1% of MTO’s budget) of their budget to cycling infrastructure.
3) Cycling safety and an increase in infrastructure will only be improved through collaboration. Partnerships must be formed with municipal, provincial and federal governments. Governments must work together and not in silos; health care, transportation, planning, municipal housing and affairs, culture, tourism, etc. Partnerships must be made with the public and private sectors.
I challenged the members of parliament on their current cycling strategy. A lot of the discussion on Wednesday circled around the 'war on cars'. I know that it has been at the forefront of discussion in Toronto because of Mayor Ford. I challenged the MPPs to move away from the polarized discussion of cycling commuters and cars. I asked why cycling as a recreation was not a part of their discussion. I tabled my question stating that I was an engineer, an environmental planner, occasionally a cycling commuter but I was asking the question as a recreational cyclist.
What I heard back. Recreational cycling used to be a part of the discussion, but cycling was not a popular sport at the time. The shift was then to commuters since they were the most visible. But no MPP answered the question! Share the Road Board Members and a few other key speakers really appreciated the question. The idea of bringing recreational cycling back into the conversation is on the horizon. Let's see what happens next.
Learn more about Share the Road and sign up for their newsletter here [http://www.sharetheroad.ca/share-the-road-newsletter-p135766/429837]. Share the Road’s goal is to make Ontario more bicycle friendly for everyone by: Enhancing access for bicyclists on roads and trails, Improving safety for all bicyclists, and Educating citizens on the value and importance of safe bicycling for healthy lifestyles and communities. Share the Road represents all cyclists - children, tourists, commuters, recreational riders, mountain bikers and racers.
I reached out to some great cycling advocates at the conference. I met with Eleanor McMahon, the founder and President of Share the Road. The plan is to get together with her in the future. I sat down with Diane Freeman, City Councillor in Waterloo, Engineer and cycling advocate. Diane was awarded the Bicycle Leadership award for 2012. I had a great chat with Mike Schreiner, Ontario Green Party Leader. He is a Toronto cycling commuter and a recreational cyclist up in Clearview; I promised him when I was up in Collingwood we could go for a ride together. Lots of people for me and the committee to follow up with, we promise to report back with any and all the information we uncover.
I had a great time at #OBS2012 and look forward to attending again next year. If you have any other questions about the conference send me an email and I’d be happy to try and answer your question.
Link to a wicked photo for the blog: http://www.sharetheroad.ca/files/OBS_Logo.jpg