Monday, June 20, 2011

Creating a Culture of Cycling in Greater Sudbury

I'm not at all surprised that the Greater Sudbury Police have issued a release reminding cyclists that they are not to be on the sidewalks (see: "No bikes on sidewalks, police say", The Sudbury Star online, Monday June 20th, 2011)

It seems to me, and the police too, that there are more cyclists on our sidewalks than we've had in a long while. Could the price of gasoline hovering around the $1.30 mark have anything to do with it? Certainly, bicycles don't belong on the sidewalks, as the opportunities for conflict with pedestrians are significant.

However, we still have a ways to go in this community to create a culture of cycling. For too many cyclists in Sudbury, the choice is often to ride illegally on a sidewalk, or risk life and limb travelling on the City's streets. Despite cyclists being required to share the road with motorists, we've a ways to go yet when it comes to equal recognition of the rights of cyclists to use our City's streets. No doubt the comments which will be appended to this blog post will illustrate my point.

Tonight, several groups will be appearing in front of the City's budget committee, asking that a portion of the City's roads budget be used to assist with building the sort of cycling infrastructure necessary in our community so that all cyclists from the age of 8 to the age of 80 will feel safe travelling where they are supposed to be, which is on our City's streets and on designated trails.

We know that not all City streets can accomodate new infrastructure, but a surprising number of streets are able to do so at little cost (sometimes it's just a matter of repainting lines). For example, the City took out an under-utilized centre turning lane on Howey Drive, and used this free space to create designated lanes for cyclists. Right now, Howey and Bancroft represent the way forward in this community.

But it all starts with a different way of thinking: our roads aren't just for cars. They are places where the public and private realms come together, to be shared by motorists, cyclists and transit users, all of which have their own unique needs. No longer can all of our streets be expected to accomodate only one form of transportation user to the detriment of others.

Things are changing - perhaps not as fast as many would like them to, but certainly things are moving ahead in our city. With even higher gas prices inevitably headed our way, it's imperative that we continue planning for and building the kind of City which we will need for the future we are going to have. And that's a City where a culture of conservation exists, and where motorists and cyclists both safely share the road, for the betterment of our community.

(this post was originally posted at UR Sudbury: Creating a Culture of Cycling in Our Community; comments are welcome at either location)

(opininions expressed in this blog are my own, and should not be interpreted as being consistent with thsoe of the Green Party of Canada)

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