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Ontario Bike Summit 2012 – #OBS2012

 

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the second day of the Ontario Bike Summit (#OBS2012) in downtown Toronto. I went as part of the Morning Glory Cycling Club’s Advocacy Committee, but I was thinking as a cycling commuter, recreational cyclist, driver, engineer and planner. It was a great event to promote cycling in Ontario. #OBS2012 is the brain child of Share the Road [www.sharetheroad.ca]. This year Share the Road set the following mandate for the conference (partial):

  • To share information on how to develop a “Share the Road’ campaign in partnership with local law enforcement, media and other community partners
  • To demonstrate innovative methods for mobilizing community resources, creating momentum and achieving success
  • To share research and information on the connection between public health and the built environment
  • To share tips and ideas on how to work more effectively with local governments to advance cycling – including strategies for securing more support from the province
  • To share data and research that you will help you “make the case” for enhanced cycling
  • To Inspire bicycle friendly cities on the 5 “Es” of a Bicycle Friendly Community: Environment, Encouragement, Environment, Education and Evaluation and Planning

Here are some of the great things I learned at the Conference:

  1.  CAA Bike Assist Program: Have a CAA membership? Good news, it covers you on your bike! “If you run into a problem that cannot be fixed on the spot, CAA will transport you and your bicycle to wherever.” More on the CA Bike Assist program can be found here
  2. More people would ride more if cycling was Safer and there was more cycling Infrastructure (i.e bike lanes, shared lanes, etc). Some numbers from CAA: 60% of members and non-members from CAA want to see more cycling infrastructure in cities, 70% of Ontario’s population thinks more needs to be done for cycling (i.e. Share the road campaigns, safety, awareness, etc). Share the Road is asking the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) to dedicate $25M (1/8th of 1% of MTO’s budget) of their budget to cycling infrastructure.
  3. Cycling safety and an increase in infrastructure will only be improved through collaboration. Partnerships must be formed with municipal, provincial and federal governments. Governments must work together and not in silos; health care, transportation, planning, municipal housing and affairs, culture, tourism, etc. Partnerships must be made with the public and private sectors.

Ask The Tough Questions:

I challenged the members of parliament on their current cycling strategy. A lot of the discussion on Wednesday circled around the ‘war on cars’. I know that it has been at the forefront of discussion in Toronto because of Mayor Ford. I challenged the MPPs to move away from the polarized discussion of cycling commuters and cars. I asked why cycling as a recreation was not a part of their discussion. I tabled my question stating that I was an engineer, an environmental planner, occasionally a cycling commuter but I was asking the question as a recreational cyclist.

What I heard back. Recreational cycling used to be a part of the discussion, but cycling was not a popular sport at the time. The shift was then to commuters since they were the most visible. But no MPP answered the question! Share the Road Board Members and a few other key speakers really appreciated the question. The idea of bringing recreational cycling back into the conversation is on the horizon. Let’s see what happens next.

Share the Road:

Learn more about Share the Road and sign up for their newsletter here. Share the Road’s goal is to make Ontario more bicycle friendly for everyone by: Enhancing access for bicyclists on roads and trails, Improving safety for all bicyclists, and Educating citizens on the value and importance of safe bicycling for healthy lifestyles and communities. Share the Road represents all cyclists – children, tourists, commuters, recreational riders, mountain bikers and racers.

I had a great time at #OBS2012 and look forward to attending again next year. If you have any other questions about the conference send me an email and I’d be happy to try and answer your question.

Happy Cycling.

(A slightly different version of this blog post can be found on the Morning Glory Blog Site)

Comments

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Time May 1, 2012 at 6:58 pm

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Comment from Patrick Connor, CAE
Time May 2, 2012 at 9:34 am

Cycling has always been popular. Building safe infrastructure has not. We do not have a US DOT situational management or context design strategy in place. We recommend – Off road trails for on-road type cycling as the safer, wiser infrastructure that is needed. Within cars and on roads is unsafe and the Share the Road philosophy confirms this. What the Bike Summit failed to do is support trails, the OTC and our capacity building to ensure folks can get to where they want to go through alternative cycling networks. Metrolinks contained no appendix even showing the trail inventory. The day after the summit 77km of Toronto TRAIL development was claimed as a victory in the National Post, of the summit. Really, I don’t recall OTC even being involved in the discussion with the summit or its organizers. Nonetheless, we are, and remain, supportive of Dan Egan and his department. Best regards,

Comment from Sasha
Time May 2, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Just checked out the OTC website. Amazing work. I agree that it is best to get commuting cyclists off the main roads and on to trails. Plus trail riding is waaaay nicer than riding in traffic. I’m sorry your group was not involved in the #OBS2012 discussions; you and your team would have brought great, insightful information to the table.