Ontario’s $25M for Cycling Infrastructure

A drop in the bucket or a step in the right direction?

Today at Share the Road’s Ontario Bike Summit, our Liberal Minister of Transportation announced $25m for bicycle infrastructure improvements for municipalities over 3 years. At first glance it seems good, but when I started to think about it I couldn’t help but be cynical. For sure it’s a step in the right direction but it’s also a drop in the bucket, a very empty bucket to citizens (voters) who are apparently hungry for cycling infrastructure.

[This announcement kind of over shadowed Share the Road’s silver award handed to the City of Kitchener for all their cycling improvements and initiatives. Yay Kitchener!]

Infinitely bigger than zero

The announcement came along side another one for $29B in infrastructure improvements for cars and trucks.  So us cyclists get 0.009% of the transportation improvement pie, which by the way is infinitely bigger than zero.

Then I remembered like every trip by bicycle between Ontario towns and cities is a life risking journey, not to mention the TransCanada across the top of Ontario which cyclists reference as the worst stretch in Canada. $25M isn’t going to get us very far. In Vancouver it got as far as 55km of cycle tracks, and that was $25M over 2 years.

Now @Glen4Ont did mention that all road and bridge improvements would take cyclists into consideration, which could indeed save lives.

Cause for celebration?

Maybe we could celebrate and pat ourselves on the back if this was the first budget of governments term, but this liberal government is hanging on by a thread. Odds are this budget will be rejected sending us Ontarians to the polls. Where will this promise leave us cyclists then? Do you get my cynicism?

I also sense cycling could be a wedge issue in the up coming election. This Ontario Bike Summit has a lot of liberals with microphones. That may be an unfair criticism given all the great work Eleanor McMahon, a liberal candidate for Burlington, has done for Ontario cycling. But if the liberals are defeated what’s going to happen to all of Eleanor’s work on provincial cycling strategies. Will they continue to resonate with an NDP or Conservative government? Has Share the Road risked allowing cycling to become a partisan issue?

Positives?

There are still lots of positives from today’s announcement:

  • If provincial transportation infrastructure improvements mandate incorporating cycling into their design, lives will be saved.
  • Ontario politicians are talking about solutions to the poor state of cycling, both strategy and infrastructure in the province of Ontario.
  • No one talked about mandatory helmet laws.

Any other positives?