Stacey Danckert and her bicycle – Green Party of Ontario – Kitchener Waterloo Byelection

Stacey Danckert our riding’s Green Party of Ontario candidate was the first to respond to our questions. Stacey, thank you for such a thoughtful response!

Refer to the other candidate responses:

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I want to thank Peter Stirling for inviting me to respond to these questions as I think this is an issue that can easily get lost in the fray of an election. My responses are below and I should also say, I’m more than happy to talk directly to anyone interested in this issue via facebook.

How often do you ride your bicycle? If you do, what’s your ride?

My husband and I ride our bikes as much as possible. Typically this would be riding to work and dropping our kids off at school/daycare. Our youngest doesn’t ride his own bike yet so my husband rides him with an attachment. Our eldest rides very well. We get our kids bikes from Recycle Cycles – a fabulous Working Centre initiative (http://www.theworkingcentre.org). They actually give kids bikes away for free but we typically donate a small amount as we think Recycle Cycles is fabulous. I bought my bike from King City cycles and my husband got his from kijiji. They’re both hybrids (I’m afraid I’m not an officianado – I love my bike but can’t tell you much about it).
Our commute is typically short (only a few k’s) but I also run some errands on the bike (picking up my CSA, going to the chiro being the most common places I bike). I also bike to the Go Station when I have to get to Toronto for my former life as a researcher! We do also enjoy riding recreationally, most commonly to Victoria Park for the kids to run around.

What are the top improvements needed in this riding to make bicycling better?

I think dedicated biking lanes are probably the most important improvements needed in KW. Our ride to the kids’ school for instance takes us along Glasgow – not only is that street in dire need of repair but the stretch from Westmount to Belmont has no bike lane and is dangerously narrow. Hardly encouraging for parents wanting to send their kids to school on bikes (and not safe either). One of the earlier blogs on the site rightly pointed out that the municipality of Kitchener has a Master Cycling Plan in place and there are a lot of wonderful, dedicated people working on bringing that to fruition, I have personally worked with Councillor Fernandes and know this is something she is working hard on. Another reply also rightly pointed out that we (provincial politicians) can do a lot to encourage better biking infrastructure. The Green Party’s Health platform (download the full pdf at http://itstimeforgreen.ca/) actually focuses on health promotion and illness prevention. As a strong part of that platform we would employ zoning and planning powers to design communities that promote walking and cycling as part of the promotion of healthier living. To do this we would create a $200 million dollar fund to support active transportation initiatives that would promote these things.

Which of the recommendations in the coroners report caught your attention and why?

One thing that immediately caught my eye early in the report is that traffic injuries will represent the third biggest contributor to disease and injury by 2020. This is probably not publicised enough and although the largest contributor to that will be motor vehicle accidents the report rightly points out that cyclists and pedestrians are most vulnerable. The long-term costs of traffic injuries is close to my husband’s heart (and of course mine too) as his brother still struggles with depression more than 20 years after a serious MVA. I don’t think people truly appreciate that kind of long-term cost from traffic injuries, particularly those that lead to head injuries and chronic pain injuries. The notion too that perceived safety issues will act as a deterrent to cycling was an important one. If the people of KW see us making real inroads into cycling infrastructure (including things like the Working Centre’s latest bike share initiative), they’ll be more likely to see biking as a viable alternative to the car. An important suggestion is that of adding side-guards to trucks; this would not only increase bike safety, but would also increase the efficiency of the trucks! Really, there was a lot of new (to me) data in this report, so I could comment on almost all of it – for example, I was surprised that the most common age for injuries was 45 or older – I would have guessed that the young were more vulnerable simply because they were out cycling more. One of the things my job as a researcher has always taught me though is to look to the data carefully. This is something the Green Party values too – whatever influence we would attempt to have over cycling infrastructure would only come via consultation with the local stakeholders – people like the bloggers on this site. As for the recommendations, one really stuck out and struck a chord with me. The “complete streets” approach sounds like a sensible way to improve transportation for all users and falls in line with Green Party’s active transportation platform.

How will you advocate on behalf of this riding’s cyclists at Queen’s Park?

The notion of establishing an Ontario Cycling Plan falls right in line with the GPO’s aim of promoting active transportation initiatives. I would act as a strong advocate for such a plan. Importantly, I would consult with local parties to determine the priorities for such a plan. I don’t begin to claim that I know best in this area. I love biking but would need to rely on high users, urban planners and other experts, including any interested citizens, to inform the approach we would take to establishing a cycling plan for all of Ontario. I think it’s worth pointing out that if we win this seat we can really act as a tying vote on important legislation – and I see changes such as implementing an Ontario Cycling Plan as very important. If elected I could also push the issue forward by introducing a private member’s bill to establish the cycling plan. Again, this would need to be developed through local consultation with the people of KW.

Thanks again for the opportunity to talk about cycling – right now I’m so busy I haven’t been on my bike nearly as much as I’d like – hope to change that after the 6th!