Why use four wheels when two will do?
Making two-wheeled transportation a more attractive option is the aim of the Cycling Master Plan, which was adopted by Lethbridge City Council on July 17.
The plan’s stated vision is to “make cycling a realistic transportation option for all ages and abilities, contributing to our sustainable future.”
Encouraging greater use of bicycles for transportation within the city offers an assortment of benefits. It’s great for individuals, offering fresh air and exercise. For the city, it can reduce traffic congestion and pollution. That makes it a win-win scenario.
However, in an urban environment, it requires some work to make it “a realistic transportation option.” That includes developing the cycling infrastructure to make cycling a safer and thus more attractive option for people.
In a section of the Cycling Master Plan presentation report to council titled “Who are the cyclists in Lethbridge,” 53 per cent were identified as “interested but concerned.” It’s understandable that people might be leery about sharing a busy roadway with vehicles. They are much more likely to opt to use bicycles as transportation if there are dedicated paths or lanes for cyclists to enhance safety.
The master plan was crafted with feedback from the public, and the local cycling community has been working to help drive the move toward a greater use of bicycles by citizens.
“We know cycling is important to our community,” Mayor Chris Spearman said Monday. “We’ve seen that in the strong participation and feedback from residents during the development of this plan.”
Tyler Stewart, president of the BikeBridge Cycling Association, welcomed the master plan.
“It’s extremely important for a city like Lethbridge, that, as we know is growing over 100,000 people, to support things like cycling infrastructure to have both a healthier community and reduce congestion on the road.”
Stewart added the association’s members, while they like the plan, are hoping the 15-year timeline can be expedited.
The key to making cycling a more attractive option for citizens is to develop the necessary infrastructure, and make that a priority. The website canadabikes.org indicates that cycling rates in Canada are low compared to a number of other countries including the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany. The site includes a link to an article on sustainability.org which notes cycling rates in those three nations fell between 1950 and 1975, but the trend was reversed “through a massive reversal in transport and urban planning policies in the mid-1970s.”
A similar approach will be the key for Lethbridge to increase bicycle use, and the Cycling Master Plan looks like a good start.