Bike Retailers get political
The BTAC (Bicycle Trade Association of Canada) held a reception last night. Though the politicians failed to show, the board of directors did get to meet Councillor Heaps earlier in the day. They had a good discussion on what needs to be done for cycling in Toronto. A number of city staff and reps of various cycling organizations were also present for the free fodder: the Toronto Cycling Committee, Community Bicycle Network, and ... maybe that was it. I don't know if the other groups were conveniently not invited or if they just couldn't make it.
One of the board members, Pete Lilly of Sweet Pete's filled me in on conversations BTAC has had with the federal government on getting a GST rebate, and to the Ontario government on getting a PST rebate on all cycling equipment. If the feds can create a rebate program for hybrids (and the gas-guzzling E85 vehicles which may some day actually be able to burn high-ethanol gasoline if they ever have it available in Canadian gas stations) why not for bicycles?
They claim that they have a good chance of convincing the province in implementing a PST rebate before the next election.
They also want to work closely with the city of Toronto in getting more bike lanes in since, as they told me, Toronto seems to be getting behind other Canadian cities such as Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver. Exactly how they intend to help the city remains to be seen.
It's refreshing to get support from the bicycle industry and that they seem to be getting the direct connection between cycling infrastructure and cycling. If cycling is to become more than a fringe mode of transportation then BTAC will need to be there to help change the facts on the ground. And when there are more regular cyclists then there are more people who need to buy bike stuff. I think this shift in BTAC is in no small part due to the new board members.