One recent letter suggests turning down the $44,161 provincial grant to put in a bike lane on Fitzgerald because, in the author’s view, “There are neither cyclists to be protected nor vehicle traffic to protect them from.”
I have posted recent pictures of Fitzgerald Avenue traffic at http://tidechange.ca/?p=106479 that I believe made good reason to reconsider the no-traffic-on-Fitzgerald assertion.
His first assertion that we should not go ahead with the bike lane because there is not enough bicycle traffic on Fitzgerald now, simply misses the point altogether.
The province didn’t make this grant because there is already a bustling stream of cyclists commuting back and forth from the malls to downtown Courtenay; the grant is intended to foster a culture of healthy, environmentally sound transportation that will meet the needs of the 21st century and help to ensure we leave a habitable planet to our grandchildren.
City planners worldwide have found that when riders discover that there is a safe network of routes, bicycle usage immediately goes up. A recent Metro Vancouver survey found that 66 per cent of Vancouverites either cycle regularly or would like to cycle more. Only one-third have no interest in cycling at all.
Examples of cities successfully promoting cycling usage abound around the world.
In three years the Buenos Aires effort to encourage the use of bicycles increased the use of this environment-friendly means of transport by fivefold in just three years! In Copenhagen, where already 37 per cent of all commuter trips are by bicycle, city planners expect enhanced infrastructure to raise that to 50 per cent by 2015.
Such efforts — especially as more cities discover the many benefits of cycling infrastructure — will contribute very significantly to the need to reduce carbon emissions as well as contributing a great deal to the health and happiness of urban life, i.e. thirty minutes of moderate cycling per day has been shown to:
- Reduce risk of developing coronary heart disease, adult diabetes, and obesity by 50 per cent;
- Reduce risk of developing hypertension by 30 per cent;
- Improve overall mental and physical health (with no gym fees!).
To be successful, cities and business must compete for intellectual capital and talent. For Boulder, Colo., attention to quality of life and community livability has become its most effective way of attracting skilled workers and 21st century-orientated businesses.
Seattle now wants to be recognized as a bike-friendly city because they simply can’t compete for the kinds of workers and business they want to attract without it.
Surely it is time for Courtenay to join the modern world and get on with this grant to build a more attractive, healthy, sustainable, successful, forward-looking city.