The Federal Election and Cycling

No shortage of opportunities to get involved in politics these days. The provincial leadership races are almost over, only the BC Conservatives still need to pick a leader. There will be a by-election in Point Grey soon and municipal elections in the fall. More about these in future posts.

Today’s topic is the Federal Election on May 2. Unfortunately, we are not very organized at the national level yet, although the BCCC is working with other cycling groups across Canada to remedy this situation. Thus, it is not particularly surprising that the platforms of the Liberal and Conservative parties do not mention cycling.

The Green Party platform includes funding for cycling infrasture and promotion, a GST exemption for bicycles and bicycle gear, a tax rebate for companies who provide facilities for commuter cycling and free access to National Parks for people who arrive by bicycle.
The Federal NDP platform for BC includes making employer-provided benefits for cycle commuting tax-free.

Still, elections are great opportunities to talk to politicians about cycling or even get to know them and their supporters better by helping them out by volunteering on their campaigns.

Ways that the federal government could encourage cycling include:

  • The development of a National Cycling Strategy 
  • Federal funding for cycling infrastructure, education and promotion. For infrastructure, $20 per person per year matched by the provinces would be a great start bring Canada up to the level of the Netherlands. 
  • Ensure that all road, bridge, transit and rail projects that receive federal funding have high-quality bicycle facilities
  • Regulations streamlining the process for implementing bicycle paths next to active rail lines
  • Regulations that require abandoned rail lines to be retained in perpetuity for use as bicycle trails.
  • Tax rebate for companies who provide facilities for commuter cycling
  • Safety standards for motor vehicles to reduce collisions with bicycles and to reduce the severity of injuries to cyclists
  • National standards for electric bicycles
  • Researching and promoting best practices
  • Developing and promoting cycling tourism in Canada

The benefits of cycling and the BCCC’s recommendations are detailed in Realizing the Benefits of Accelerated Investment in Cycling and summarized in Investing in a Healthy Future. While these documents are focused on BC, much of the information is relevant at the national level as well.

Their web sites are great places to find out more about their platforms, how to get involved and who your local candidates are.

Conservatives - http://www.conservative.ca
Bloc Québécois - http://www.blocquebecois.org
Greens - http://greenparty.ca
Liberals - http://www.liberal.ca
NDP - http://www.ndp.ca

Vote and encourage your friends to vote.

Make sure you are registered to vote. More at Elections Canada.

While we unfortunately do not have the resources to survey the parties regarding their positions on cycling, we will post any information we receive on their cycling policies.

Other ways to support a National Cycling Strategy include:

Riding4Ridings is a community-based project that transports people on election day to appropriate polling stations by a fleet of BICYCLES!

Last of all, it is always a good idea to write letters.

Right Hon. Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
[email protected]

Hon. Michael Ignatieff
Leader of the Liberal Party
[email protected] 

Hon. Jack Layton
Leader of the New Democratic Party
[email protected]

Gilles Duceppe
chef du Bloc Québécois
[email protected]

Elizabeth May
Leader of the Green Party
[email protected]

Your MP can be found at: http://www.parl.gc.ca/information/about/people/house/PostalCode.asp?Language=E

Posted in News | 3 Comments

NDP Leadership Candidates on Cycling

The NDP leadership race is in the final stretch with the advanced poll taking place from April 11 to 16 followed by the election day and the Leadership Assembly on April 17.

To help compare the candidate’s positions on cycling, here are the posts containing their responses in the order we received them:

John Horgan

Adrian Dix

Mike Farnworth

Thanks to all the candidates and their campaign teams for their replies. Of note, Mike Farnworth was the only candidate to specify a dollar amount for cycling and walking while Adrian Dix was the only candidate to complete the BCCC’s survey.

The BCCC requested responses from all NDP and Liberal leadership Candidates. We will post the responses from other leadership candidates if we receive them. If any of the political parties send us  positions on cycling, we will post them as well.

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NDP Leadership Candidate Mike Farnworth on Cycling

In response to the BCCC’s request for NDP Leadership candidate Mike Farnworth’s positions on cycling, his campaign forwarded us the press release below. In the candidate survey, we requested that they indicate the level of funding they support for cycling. Farnworth is the first leadership candidate to specify a dollar amount for walking and cycling. From the press release below:

A $50-million investment fund to cost-share safe cycling and walking infrastructures with local governments

We asked his campaign for clarification regarding the investment and in particular, what period it would be over. Here is their response:

Our expectation is that this would be an annual investment but at this point it is being put forward as an initial commitment. 

 Here is the press release:

Farnworth announces green transportation plan to reduce emissions, raise productivity, and improve health

April 7, 2011
(Surrey) — NDP Leadership candidate Mike Farnworth today announced an ambitious plan for a green mobility shift in B.C. communities.
“Early on in our party’s leadership campaign, I announced my comprehensive environmental plan to move B.C. on a sustainable path and invest in zero-emission transportation as part of my climate action agenda. Today I’m proposing further measures to make green mobility a reality in regions across B.C.,” said Farnworth.
A former municipal councillor and outspoken champion of building the Evergreen Line to the Tri-Cities, Farnworth said that communities across B.C. cannot build sustainable transport without an ongoing partnership with the province.
Farnworth’s plan includes:
  • Investing carbon and fuel tax revenues in rapid transit on key corridors;
  • Allowing regions and communities greater decision-making for transportation planning;
  • A $50-million investment fund to cost-share safe cycling and walking infrastructures with local governments; and,
  • Pursuing a cost-sharing agreement with federal government on capital funding for zero-emission transport.
“A commitment to invest in zero-emission rapid transit in growing urban regions is long overdue,” said Farnworth. “Low-impact mobility options will also help meet legally binding greenhouse gas emission reduction targets mandated by the province.”
NDP Environment Critic and Victoria-Swan Lake MLA Rob Fleming said Farnworth’s vision for green transportation is another example of the forward-looking policies that will give him an advantage going into the election.
“Mike has not only the best profile with party members and voters, but his green commitments will strengthen our ability to reach out to all progressive voters who want to see real change in this province,” said Fleming. “If we want to see these environmental policies in action, we need to elect Mike Farnworth as our leader.”

Mike Farnworth for Leader, BC NDP


Thanks to Mike and his campaign for the reply. The BCCC requested responses from all NDP and Liberal leadership Candidates. We will post the responses from other leadership candidates as we receive them. If any of the political parties send us a position on cycling, we will post it as well.

Posted in News | 1 Comment

The End of the Line for Rail on Vancouver Island? Vancouver Island needs you now!

The rail system on Vancouver Island is in a make or break situation. The owners of the railway corridor, the Island Corridor Foundation (ICF), have requested $15 million in funding from the provincial and federal governments. Without this cash infusion, the system that has operated for 125 years on Vancouver Island will bite the dust.

Symptomatic of this imminent demise is the fact that the Johnson Street Rail Bridge, which up till now has served as a safe conduit for cyclists and pedestrians to access the world-famous Galloping Goose Trail, has just been lifted. Island councilors have deemed it unsafe – forcing non-motorized travellers to take their chances on the adjacent bridge, which up to now has been dominated by cars.
Personally I’d rather take my chances on a rusting bridge than mix it up with cars. But as of this past weekend, cyclists are taking their chances with motorists on the adjacent bridge. (See photo at the top of this post, taken by Adrian Lam, Times Colonist.)

At the moment the bridge is heavily policed, and the police presence has so far managed to prevent the mayhem everyone feared would ensue. But what about when the novelty wears off, and weekend warriors on bikes have to duke it out with motorists without the protection of the police? My wife and I do the Galloping Goose at least once a year, taking our tourist dollars to the Island … but if it’s no longer safe, we’ll find another destination. It would be a crying shame if many others did the same, because the Goose is really one of the finest cycling experiences in the world.

On the bright side, don’t let this put you off cycling the Goose: it’s possible to dismount and push your bike over the bridge – safely, and in just a few minutes.

Of course, safe access to the Goose is just one aspect of a large, depressing picture. The rail structure on Vancouver Island is the kind of transit structure that needs to be preserved, for the sake of a viable commuting/travelling future. The $15 million investment would be used to repair ageing infrastructure; and it would also be used to fund the Via passenger service, which currently offers an early-morning southbound train from Nanaimo to Victoria. Via Rail had plans to add three new cars next year, all with bicycle carrying capacity and handicap lifts. There is also the possibility of developing other passenger lines. In fact, ironically, recent years have seen substantial railroad improvements and developing opportunities for better service. Yet now there is a danger of tossing it all away.

To me this is all about taking the long-term view on transportation. The griping of merchants on Hornby Street in Vancouver is an example of taking an extremely short-term view. Most of us are parents or grandparents, uncles or aunts – surely we need to be thinking about making sure there is a viable future for our city and its inhabitants, rather than worrying about whether a handful of merchants will turn a tidy profit in 2011?

Bottom Line: there can be no viable future that retains single-occupant cars as the dominant mode of transportation. Not in Vancouver; not on Vancouver Island.

The price of gas rises almost daily, while the supply inevitably dwindles. At the same time, only the most obstinate can still believe that this insanely extravagant transportation mode is not taking a heavy toll on the environment. All this means that there is no sane choice but to lobby for viable transportation alternatives, such as trains and safe cycling routes. In the words of Graham Bruce, Times Colonist:

“A $15-million investment in Island rail to secure continued service
could well be one of the most cost-effective and important
socioeconomic decisions we can make for the future of Vancouver Island.”

How can you help?

  • Contact your MP and your MLA
  • Write to the federal and provincial ministers of transportation
  • Email the prime minister and premier
  • Call your mayor and regional district chair
  • Talk to your chief and council.
  • Call your favourite Island federal candidate and ask him or her to publicly support the $15-million infrastructure investment.

Our actions can and will make a difference in this important, historic event, unfolding right now on Vancouver Island.

“Never doubt that a small group of concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Margaret Mead

Posted in Campaigns, Capital Regional District | Leave a comment

Encourage Premier Clark to Support Cycling

Please send a message to Premier Clark at the address below indicating your strong support for a comprehensive Provincial Cycling Strategy including investment in high quality cycling facilities, education, promotion and legislation including a revised Motor Vehicle Act that places the priority on the safety of cyclists and other vulnerable road users.

Other Ministers involved in cycling issues include:
Hon. Blair Lekstrom - Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure

Hon. Kevin Falcon - Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance
Hon. Michael de Jong, Q.C.- Minister of Health
Hon. Dr. Terry Lake - Minister of Environment
Hon. Ida Chong - Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development
Hon. Patrick Bell - Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation

The benefits of cycling and the BCCC’s recommendations are detailed in Realizing the Benefits of Accelerated Investment in Cycling and summarized in Investing in a Healthy Future. The cornerstone of these recommendations is the four year investment of $175 million dollars per year totalling $700 million to fund family friendly bicycle paths, separated bike lanes and other high quality cycling facilities in communities and on provincial roads throughout BC.

Premier Clark and her ministers are likely working on a new budget so now is a great time to recommend greater investment in cycling. Your message could include some or all of the following:

  • What this investment and the other recommendations and improved cycling would mean for you, your family and your community
  • The highlighting of the recommendations that are important to you, your family or your community
  • Specific cycling facilities you would like to see built
  • Stories on what new cycling facilities have meant to you and your community
  • Stories about impact of the lack of cycling facilities in your community
  • Cycling education and skills training for adults, children
  • Updating the Motor Vehicle Act to improve the safety and comfort of cyclists and pedestrians
  • The economic benefits of cycling and cycling tourism

Hon. Christy Clark [email protected] 

Please cc your MLA. You can find their email address at: http://www.leg.bc.ca/mla/3-1-1.htm

As well, cc:
[email protected][email protected][email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected],[email protected], [email protected][email protected], [email protected]

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