PEDAL PUSHERS: Here's what the federal parties are saying about cycling

To see what the federal parties are saying about cycling and active transportation, the Pedal Pushers downloaded the platforms from the Liberal, Conservative, NDP, Green, Bloc Quebecois and People’s parties.

Then we looked through them to see if any had policy statements on cycling or active transportation. Turns out that only two of the six parties mention cycling in their platforms: the Greens and the NDP.

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The Greens would “create a national cycling and walking infrastructure fund to help support zero-emissions active transportation.” Here at Pedal Pushers, we really like the word fund. It means money!

The NDP platform says that “better commutes include promoting smart community planning and active transportation like walking and cycling, helping Canadians make choices that are healthier and more affordable for everyone.”

At Pedal Pushers we think the word “strategy” might be a bit weasely, but will give NDP leader Jagmeet Singh full points for recently leading a bike ride in Ottawa. He seems to like cycling.  

Also, NDP member of Parliament Gord Johns (from Courtenay-Alberni) has a private member’s bill before Parliament to establish a national cycling strategy that would commit Ottawa to set targets for expanding cycling infrastructure, encourage more Canadians to use bikes to get around and create a public education campaign on cycling safety for cyclists and motorists.

Thumbs up for both the Greens and the NDP. So why do the other parties not even mention cycling? It’s not a big surprise since so few people us their bike for transportation. Here in North Vancouver, the last census found that two per cent of trips to work were on a bicycle. In the City of North Vancouver that number climbs to a whopping 2.4 per cent. It’s sad but true that few politicians are going to champion a cause that’s so undersubscribed.

Why are there so few people cycling?

At Pedal Pushers we have a circular theory that makes anyone close enough to hear it a bit nuts. “No one cycles because there are very few routes that are safe. There are very few routes that are safe, because no one cycles.” This spins around and around and around, like a bicycle wheel with nowhere to go. Eventually, anyone foolish enough to advocate for something so unpopular will begin to wobble. And, indeed, the chicken and egg thing gets tiresome for those of us advocating for safer cycling infrastructure.

At Pedal Pushers we are still hopeful. We say “Build it and they will come.” We know this because our neighbour across the water, the City of Vancouver, has increased cycling trips to seven per cent of all trips – not just commuting to work. They built safe infrastructure like the Burrard Street bike lanes, the Adanac bikeway, and the Hornby separated bike lanes, among many others. Guess what? The number of trips by bicycle increased by 54 per cent between 2013 and 2017 and cycling is now the fastest growing mode of transportation in the city.

We are holding out hope on the federal front. Often the perpetual ruling parties (the Liberals and the Conservatives) will borrow good ideas from other parties and incorporate them into their own policies. Especially when there is a minority government. We’ll see what happens next Monday, Oct. 21, when Canadians cycle on over to a polling station to vote.

The North Shore Pedal Pushers are Heather Drugge and Antje Wahl. The guy who makes the column readable, Dan Campbell, prefers driving. See – we can all work together.

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