Cycling has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer by over 40%. A shift toward cycling will leave roads less congested and reduce spending required for new road construction, not to mention that a modal shift to cycling will help to meet our 80% reduction target in greenhouse gas emissions. Research continues to show that cycling contributes to more livable cities and cyclists make better drivers! According to a city of Waterloo study, cyclists spend as much as drivers in uptown Waterloo, proving that people who bike to their destination contribute to their local economy.
So, let’s break down our pledge and see how we can make it happen:
1. A minimum grid of connected cycling infrastructure, primarily segregated from traffic, within four years.
a. Minimum grid
What is a “minimum grid”? Simply put, it’s a minimum number of roads/trails designed and built to allow cyclists to get around the region safely. CycleWR’s Minimum Grid map shows an evidence-based approach to building the grid and is coming soon!
b. Primarily segregated from traffic
The minimum grid needs to be comfortable for cyclists of all ages and abilities. Most collisions happen at intersections, and a cyclist’s or pedestrian’s risk of dying from a collision increases substantially as the speed of the motor vehicle increases. The National Association of City Transport Officials recommends that any roads with speeds higher than 40km/h should have protected bike lanes. 60% of cyclists are in the category of “interested but concerned”. The Laurier Avenue segregated bike lanes in Ottawa had a 240% increase in ridership within the first summer. Toronto has implemented the Bloor Street Bike Lanes, which lead to a 49% increase in cyclists, and a 44% decrease in road user conflicts. Besides bike lanes/trails, intersections also need to be improved to protect cyclists and pedestrians, such as by using the Amsterdam model.
c. Within four years
There are many adaptive and low-cost methods for creating bicycle infrastructure. The Region of Waterloo is already planning a protected bike lane pilot for Waterloo, and we’d like to see an expansion of that to Kitchener and Cambridge. Other Canadian cities have shown that there are relatively quick ways to implement bicycling infrastructure without needing to completely re-do a street. The City of Winnipeg has been using adjustable bike lane curbs. In 2016 the city of Edmonton approved an adaptable downtown bike network, and by 2017 it had been installed. Seville, Spain implemented 80km of separated bike lanes within a few years and found an 11-fold increase in trips by bike.
2. A minimum funding commitment of $20 per resident per year to implement this plan across both local levels of government.
Active transportation budgets can be difficult to quantify because they often cross departments. Bike lane costs may be wrapped into a general road reconstruction budget. Trail maintenance and snow clearing may fall in a different department. Signage and education may come from Transportation Demand Management or another area. A rough estimate across residents has been developed based on spending in other cities. Ideally, regional municipalities will commit to a larger budget for a shorter period of time to see the greatest increase in use of cycling facilities.
a. $7 per resident at the city/township level
As an example, Kitchener has currently has budgeted ~$320,000/year for implementation of the Cycling Master Plan (CMP). For 2019, $1.5 million of city funds are allocated for the Iron Horse Trail, and ~$520,000 for community trails. These projects benefit cyclists, pedestrians and other trail users. CycleWR would like to see the $7 per resident spent on implementing the CMP, with additional funds dedicated to large-scale projects as needed.
Based on the 2017 census, $7 per resident would equal:
- Kitchener: 252,520 residents = $1,767,640
- Waterloo: 137,420 residents = $961,940
- Cambridge: 135,060 residents = $945,420
- Woolwich Township: 25,960 = $181,720
- Wilmot Township: 21,220 = $148,540
- Wellesley Township: 11,530 = $80,710
- North Dumfries Township – 10,380 = $72,660
b. $13 per resident at the regional level
594,100 residents = $7,723,300 per year.
This compares to the current funding suggested in the ROW Active Transportation Master Plan, which adds up to approximately $70,000,000 over ten years (ie. $7mil per year). However, the current Regional Capital Transportation budget has only $3,590,000 budgeted for infill sidewalk and cycling infrastructure in 2018, $710,000 budgeted for 2019, and $300,000 for 2020. There is also a budget for pedestrian and cycling countermeasures of $100,000 per year. This adds up to significantly less than needed to complete all of the required projects.
Besides capital funding, the transportation demand management operating budget should also be increased. For instance, it would be beneficial to have a staff person who is responsible for the implementation of the Active Transportation Master Plan.