Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns will be introducing his first private members bill — a National Cycling Strategy — Tuesday in Ottawa. His proposal comes in the wake of two recent fatalities involving cyclists, one in Ottawa and another in Montreal.
“It’s long overdue,” Johns said in an interview from Newfoundland. “I’ve been working closely over the past several months with cycling groups, in particular with Canada Bikes, in the development of the bill. For years, Canada Bikes has been advocating in the call for a National Cycling Strategy.”
He can’t at this stage discuss its wording, but he said the bill sets a framework to build a strategy. The federal government will need to work with provincial and municipal partners, and cycling organizations, to develop the policy.
“The goal is to set clear targets for the expansion of cycling-friendly infrastructure, and to encourage more Canadians to use cycling as a mode of transportation.”
Johns himself is an avid cyclist. In fact, he rides to Parliament Hill every day when the House is in session.
“I’ve ridden every single day since being elected. I did bike to work in the biggest snowstorm in 46 years in Ottawa. It was easy — no cars on the road.”
He advocates the activity because it is a sustainable, low-cost solution to transportation, and helps eliminate pollution. Another aspect is economic spinoffs generated by cycling tourism.
Johns said Canada lags behind other countries that have adopted a cycling strategy. For example, the number of Canadian children who bike to school is about two per cent. He said the rate in Germany is 15 per cent, Sweden 20 per cent and the Netherlands 50 per cent.
If his bill passes, government will have about two years to build the strategy to help direct future infrastructure and spending.
To learn more about the bill, call Johns’ main office in Parksville at 250-947-2140. His satellite office in Courtenay is at 367 Fourth St., open Mondays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.