Ontario Bike Strategy Update

Faded sharrow in Ottawa
Faded sharrow in Ottawa

Here is a brief update on Ontario’s draft bicycle policy survey.

I am told that the Ministry of Transportation received tremendous interest. There were close to 1000 submissions, over 90% of which are from individuals. The tone is generally very supportive of the fact that the Ministry is taking the issue seriously for the first time in 20 years – putting out a strategy and consulting. Initial estimates have the suggestions split fairly evenly between infrastructure, legislative changes and education.

As Premier Wynne has lived in the Netherlands and raved about cycling with her kids there and Transport Minister Glenn Murray apparently cycled across the continent from Winnipeg to the Carolinas, I hope there will be some traction on this file: the tremendous interest shows that politicians are not catching up fast enough with the electorate.

A discussion of the time she spent as a young married in the Netherlands becomes a contemplation on the health system. When Wynne was pregnant with her first child, Christopher, she moved to the town of Voorburg with her accountant husband, Phil Cowperthwaite. Before her departure she had attempted to seek out a midwife, only to be discouraged by the heavily institutionalized North American health-care system.

In Holland, the immediate expectation was that a midwife would be in attendance.

The contrast was stark. “The assumption of health, the importance of family,” were ever-present in Wynne’s new home. Ontario, by contrast, was a medicalized environment that, as she phrases it, “assumed illness.”

In Voorburg she rode a black bike, placed Christopher on the front and filled the canvas saddlebags on the back with provisions. It was, she says, a simple life. “I think we allow ourselves to make ourselves sicker by not putting those supports in place,” she says of the approach to health care she found in the province to which she returned 2 1/2 years later. Source: The Star.

The draft plan suggests access to $50 million in infrastructure for 2013, but comparing with a cancelled gas plant in Mississauga at a cost of $275 million, that is peanuts. I think it is not unreasonable to ask for more allocation of money to active transportation. Keep asking your MPP for attention to this file. A cycling strategy is more than a faded sharrow.

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