On Chiarelli's 2012 Ontario Bike Strategy

On Friday November 30th, Bob Chiarelli, The Minster of Transportation, released a Cycling Strategy. You’d be well excused for not hearing about it because other news has rightfully captured the headlines. As an announcement, this strategy document was only newsworthy for being drivel.

If someone were to ask me how I would describe Ontario’s new Cycling Strategy in a word I would have to choose one of these: “vague,” “wishy-washy,” or “same-old, same-old” depending on who asked.

We are all free to share what we think of this Strategy directly with the Ministry. I encourage you to do so.

For a Strategy that is to cover a province as large and as diverse as Ontario, or even an activity as diverse as cycling, this document is really slim. Once the introductions, the cover page, the table of contents, the glossary, and the appendixes are removed, the actual strategy is a mere four pages. That does not provide any space for detail, so absolutely none are given.

For me, just the fact that this criticism to the proposed strategy is longer than the strategy itself is proof enough that this strategy is nowhere near comprehensive or detailed enough.

The introduction does mention some of the benefits of cycling, such as better health, reducing emissions, reducing urban traffic congestion, and providing economic development opportunities. But not once does this plan mention any targets for Ontario in reaching towards these benefits.

What the introduction also outlines is how little Ontario has been doing for, and how slowly and diluted it’s been dishing out any benefits to, those of us who ride bikes in Ontario. The rest of the strategy is not so much “new” as more of the same. Without clear goals, without areas of priority, without clear funding commitments, this plan is just more of the same-old, same-old.

Let’s step back for a moment, and, — even before we decide that we need a bike plan or strategy — let’s get a vision of what we’d like for a future Ontario to look like. Only then we can better understand how cycling fits in to that future. Only then we can create a plan and a set of strategies that will get us there. And, then we can have a plan that outlines the path that will get us to achieve this vision. However, there is no vision driving this plan, nor does the plan itself provide one. Nor can one even get a vision of what the province will be like from reading this document, nor what will change in the lives of those of who ride our bicycles anywhere in the province. That is because a plan which is this slim simply cannot provide any of this.

One thing that the plan does mention is the desire to fund cycling projects which will “connect communities,” but only those cycling projects which would fulfill these criteria:

  • Could form part of a province wide cycling network.
  • Have no viable alternate route.
  • Would connect with other existing or planned cycling routes.
  • Are consistent with local tourism goals.
  • Connect population centres and/or places of interest.
  • Allow access to services and accommodation.
  • Have demonstrated demand for cycling.
  • Are or can reasonably be made safe.
  • Have strong local support.
  • Are cost effective.

Really? This list reads to me more like a list of excuses to EXCLUDE funding for projects, rather than as reasons to fund cycling projects.

  • What is that “province wide cycling network” which is being referred to in the list? Earlier, the plan states that “The Ministry will identify a province-wide cycling route network to connect cycling destinations to create recreational and tourism opportunities.” However, the plan does not identify that route.
  • What would make an alternative route “viable”? No details are to be found in the plan.
  • What would make a place or population centre worthy of “interest”? This plan does not does provide such detail.
  • What is meant by “demonstrated demand for cycling,” and how would that criteria apply on routes that have been difficult or impossible by bike before? No details.
  • What does “reasonably safe” look and feel like? No detail.
  • What constitutes “strong local support”? No detail.
  • What are the measures being used for deciding if a project is “cost effective”? No detail.

The plan goes on to state that the Ministry will support municipalities in the development of local cycling networks. However, it already does this, even if not with that direct intent. Traffic engineers, the people directly responsible for the design and the implementation of our cycling infrastructure, already create and update designs of cycling infrastructure and their associated signage. This is done nationally, and becomes a national standard that traffic engineers use. Provinces then “cherry pick” which of these it wishes to include as part of its provincial standard. Ontario has always been included in this process, and Ontario’s Municipalities have always been a part of adding to, as well as choosing, these standards. Traditionally, the Ministry of Transportation has only ever blocked the inclusion of integrated cycling infrastructure, so perhaps the big change here is not so much the leadership role that the province isn't taking, but the fact that it will “get out of the way” and stop blocking cycling projects. That’s really the big change here.

Both Education and Legislation becomes the next key item in this plan. That it should have been two items is a fact we’ll overlook for right now.

Canada has a national standard for educating cyclists with on-road cycling skills; it’s called CAN-BIKE, and it is a program which is 27 years old. Being a national standard means that it is recognized by both our Federal Government as well as by industry. Toronto created, and has previously handed off to the Ministry of Transportation, a CAN-BIKE component for inclusion with driver education. But there’s no mention of that. Instead we get the usual banter of on-going consultations with whomever, and that that the driver handbook has been getting better and will continue to get better. Uh-huh.

There is no mention of getting more people taking CAN-BIKE courses, nor of making any cycling programs available for those who ride, or would like to. Cyclists’ education will be taken care of by having a sheet of paper with the URL so that one can find the on-line copy of the “Cycling Skills” handbook; this slip of paper (with the URL) will be attached to every bicycle sold in Ontario. This idea was buried in the appendix. So instead of placing a full copy of the Cycling Skills booklet into a bag along with other useful information which would be attached to the bike being sold, one will get a URL with the bike. Really. You can read it for yourself; I don’t make this stuff up.

The key legislative changes proposed are the one-metre passing law, and, potentially, mandatory helmets — pending study, of course. But these are only mentioned as part of the review from Ontario’s Chief Coroner, again in the appendix. The strategy, proper, only promises vague on-going reviews of the current legislation.

The final page of the Strategy covers Co-ordination as well as Monitoring and Research. However, without clear goals or outcomes, one has to wonder what will be researched or monitored. And the section on co-ordination reads like the kind of incomprehensible jargon we usually try to avoid if we mean to be understood. However, the Co-ordination section does mention an “Active Transportation Working Group” but it fails to identify who is (or would be) working in such a group, nor what it’s aims are. It reads as if such a group already exists, but there’s no description of what this group has done so far, if anything.

My wife, whom I usually find quite reasonable, and who keeps me grounded, said that this plan sounded like something a high school student whipped together the night before in order to have something to hand in. I think my wife is being a little bit harsh.

To compare:
Toronto’s 2001 Bike Plan is 137 pages long, and is not short on detail. Toronto’s Bike Plan only two had clear goals: 1) to double ridership and 2) to build the proposed network by 2011. But it also did outline a large number of policies and ideas to help those of us who already ride bikes, and ideas and policies which would both enable and encourage more people to ride bikes.

In 2008, the group “Ontario Cycling Alliance” (OCA) released a 42 page Bike Plan for Ontario which was far more comprehensive than the Cycling Strategy released by Chiarelli. It articulated a vision of Cycling in Ontario as well as specific plans and programs to achieve this vision. OCA’s Bike Plan included also proposed routes to connect communities with Ontario, and it identified those whom it would encourage to ride, and what kinds of trips they would be making by bicycle. What OCA’s Bike Plan lacked was timelines and costs.

In 2010, Share The Road Coalition released a 49 page Green Paper describing what they would like to see by way of Cycling Policy. The ideas presented in it are, by far, better than what the Ministry of Transport is currently proposing.

The people of Ontario deserve a proper, and comprehensive, Bike Plan that covers the whole province , one which outlines the timelines, the costs, and the benefits of investing in cycling infrastructure and programs across the province. Ontario deserves a Bike Plan with clear aims and Goals, better identification of who would be cycling as well as where and when we'll be cycling. And the Bike Plan should identify the means of achieving these objectives. And it's not like our province doesn't have any other options; two groups in Ontario have worked on, and produced, full Bike Plans that Ontario could easily adopt as its own.

What we, in Ontario, don’t deserve is a slim document merely designed to answer a report from the Coroner being passed off as plan (or even a strategy) to fit all of cycling in all of Ontario.

Comments

Yeah. We both said, by and large, the same thing.

I haven't read it in detail yet but what struck me is its emphasis on recreational riding. I am all for connecting communities and had a very good time doing the Waterfront trail ride. In fact I plan to do the new one for the Lake Erie trail. That seems to be the focus.

Most of us ride in our community and to and from work. This doesn't seem to even be acknowledged. There is nothing on bicycling is traffic or active transportation to work or school. No mention of Safe routes to schools even though education is a provincial priority.

I also noticed no mention of signage. Yet a provincial working group is studying that very issue. There is such a bewildering mish mash of signs on our trails. That is because different bodies have their own standards and act accordingly. In Mimico there are even signs put up by a Residents Association telling cyclists to slow down. If cycling were transportation, signs could be standardized province wide. It is unthinkable that a yield sign would be different in one city to the next. Yet signs change on the Martin Goodman Trail once you cross the Thunderbird Bridge. One is the city of Toronto the other the TRCA. The province could fix this. Give us a province wide standard.

Funny that even though it was only mentioned in the appendix of the Ontario Bike Strategy, the mandatory helmets item was what made the headline in the Globe and Mail.

Transportation Minister Bob Chiarelli said Friday he wants to consult Ontarians before determining whether to require adults to don helmets. He expects to make a decision within six months.

“We know it’s extremely controversial. There are even some cycling advocate groups who suggest that it should not be mandatory,” Mr. Chiarelli noted. “I think people need to have their say on this issue.”

Jared Kolb of Cycle Toronto said the organization remains opposed to expanding helmet laws because it wants to encourage more adults to ride for health and environmental reasons. In gridlocked cities such as Toronto, cycling has for many become a preferable mode of commuting to work or school. In some parts of the city, biking is faster than driving or taking public transit.

David,

There's no "detail" to read; it's only four pages.

You said:

I also noticed no mention of signage.

I had written:

The plan goes on to state that the Ministry will support municipalities in the development of local cycling networks. However, it already does this, even if not with that direct intent. Traffic engineers, the people directly responsible for the design and the implementation of our cycling infrastructure, already create and update designs of cycling infrastructure and their associated signage.

The problem with trails is that there is no enforcement on our trails. On our streets and roads the insurance Companies "police" the "standard" (ie design guidelines) through the courts, that is insurance companies will sue the province and/or municipalities to prevent and/or recover payouts when the design guidelines are not followed. Because serious injury and death are so rare when dealing with cycling and walking, there's little opportunity for insurance companies to be involved in claims from trail users. Further, our streets and roads have be "designated" by the province, which means that the roads and signage must follow the design guidelines set out by the province. Trail operators don't have to have their trails designated by the province, so there is no-one to inspecting the trails to make sure that proper design guidelines were followed. Essentially, we find that trails are built, and operated, without any oversight largely because the risks to their users are usually quite low.

There is mention in the strategy about "complete streets," but this is in the appendix, and it is there only to answer the Coroner's report. The main portion is much less clear, merely rambling about the province providing infrastructure design, guidance documents, and how the overall costs are the responsibility of the municipality - but then goes on to say that the province will support municipalities by providing access to funding. This section is really referencing existing programs which are already in place, is and trying to show how they have become part of the province's "new" cycling strategy; however there nothing is new here, and nothing has really changed.

To re-cap:
This "Cycling Strategy" is rhetoric. It pays lip service to cycling without making any commitments, nor does it identify any real priorities. No firm programs will come of this, and there are no promises of any funding levels. It's pages are filled with many words that say a whole lot of NOTHING. This Strategy is beyond weak; it is impotent.

I hope you have submitted these comments to the posting on the Environmental Registry and I think you should encourage your readers to do the same. The ministry is obliged to consider all comments in their final decision and the Environmental Commissioner will monitor and report on it in an upcoming report. It is rare that we have rights to meaningfully participate in the process, this is one of the few cases where well-considered comments like this one can make a difference.

There is a lot missing from this document...

  • Side guards for new trucks
  • Improved laws and training on bike lanes, sharrows and the associated fines
  • Increased fines and enforcement for delivery trucks in lanes
  • Unification of bike share across the province - should be brought under metrolinx or at least compatible with the Presto card (and potentially offered for free with monthly passes to limit the amount of parking required at suburban stations)
  • Working with federal government to get bike shares part of the federal transit tax refund or some sort of health and recreation tax refund
  • Working on increasing the bike shares in urban centres, and along the trails (specifically martin goodman, and the rideau canal)
  • Increasing bike shares at schools, at hospitals, major employment centres, major residential developments, tourist areas, airports, train stations, sports stadiums and provincial parks

George,

I like your ideas.

It's not that there is a lot missing from this document, because there is nothing in it that the province is not already doing. What's worse is that this document doesn't even make any kind of commitment to continue to do, but instead uses vague "wiggle words" to allow them to not do anything at all - which, it seems, is all they want to be doing.

As I have kids, so the #1 priority for me is a "bike-to-school program" complete with funding for installing bike racks at all of our public schools, while also removing "no cycling policies" which exists at many of our schools.

Allowing Contra-flow bike lanes in Toronto needs nothing more than a "letter of clarification" from the Minister.

Instead of clarity, we get this "Strategy" from the Minister which is as opaque as the paper it is printed on.

I don't think that the following is merely my cynicism showing:
The Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MOTO) is a major shareholder of Two large car manufacturing companies which operate in the province, and supporting cycling could be seen as eating into potential car manufacturing revenues, or else the car makers could threaten to pull out of the province if it's auto support is seen to be weakening. Also, One-third of Ontario's economy is about cars, or - to put this another way, at least One-third of every Ontarian's income is spent on our cars. Even In my own neighbourhood I don't need field-specs to see the muffler shops, tire shops, body shops, service centres, used car shops, and gas stations (all less than 1 mile away); however, I'd have ride far, far past those many auto repair and support shops to find my, lone, Local Bike Store (about 3 miles away).

I would suggest that our own Ministry of Transportation doesn't really want to see cycling as a viable means of transportation because doing so could, potentially, threaten the province's investment in the automakers, or else be seen as threatening the province's economy. Or worse -- it would give the auto makers an excuse to threaten the province (with plant closures, moving jobs, etc).

I am also going to be so bold as to state outright that this thin "Strategy" document is nothing more than the means to placate (or appease, pacify, and soothe) those whiny cyclist types while also assuring the powerful motoring lobby that nothing, really, is going to change.

And, as long as the motoring lobby has our province by the short and curly's, that is that they continue to be "at the wheel" of transportation policy in Ontario, I don't think that I'll ever see true support for cycling from the province.

Excellent thoughts in this thread.

Now, accepting the fact that MTO is no ally in furthering the cause of cycling, whom in position of power can we rely on to add some punch to our effort?

The Health community maybe - but they haven't figured out yet that a growing number of cyclists on the road will make us safer than mandated helmet use would. Maybe a sales job there would help us.

Tourism - probably useful in TO and to some degree in areas like Niagara, Muskoka and Prince Edward County. But their dollars are somewhat sparse and the municipalities that do much of the work are in poor financial shape.

But MTO builds most of the infrastructure that we use and their off-stance hurts us badly. Maybe it's time to remind them of their obligation to the community as a whole, especially at a time when the purchase power of families is shrinking. Even away from the dense core of the cities, bicycles reduce expenses....

Yes, it may be helpful to spend hours inputting into the EBR - but does this allow for copying to the politicians? Or is it a closed loop, so we get the sense that our opinion matters but it's far more of a box with no bottom in it?
Also, for some of us, not everything is online, nor so conveniently put together/accessible eg pics, so is paper still possible?
The ECO didn't bother chasing down the MofE a few years back when it was clearer that the Bloor Revitalization project fudged the EA rules - too much time had elapsed sorta deal, and what are we gonna do? So the pavement/road stays dangerous for forty years, and we should believe in the shytstem?
This also appllies to the justus shytstem, as some would call it, as that stretch of Bloor did have a nasty killing of a cyclist by a former politician, and somehow, charges didn't stick, and I'd urge folks to look at the surveillance video themselves to form their own opinions. Nothing like knowing that a cyclist can be run into when plainly in front of a vehicle to stay off the road, or be kept in the gutter (bikes to the black of the bus sorta thing).
It isn't just Caronto the Carrupt, it's also Ontcario.
But we don't have local oil here; and some year, there will be a broad need to act on climate change as we've hit 390.9 ppm, and some year we may be regarded as climate cariminals for knowing, yet failing to act.
So we need to widen that liability highway up to six lanes; and go beyond the city to a level that does have a number of important choices and decisions, but it may be a political venue as well as anything internal eg. EBR thanks Hayley.

simplicius2wheels,

I like your points and your question. Let me share what I see:

Tourism Ontario is already giving MoTO a push to get cycling infrastructure, you can read that from this document by how many times you see tourism mentioned. But tourism dollars don't go very far. And tourism riding means recreational riding, not daily riding.

At least some Municipalities would like to do more, and in fact should be obliged to be doing more so under our provincial law and regulation, but those laws and regs are so soft and weak that our municipalities can get away with doing nothing, as we saw with Jarvis Street, et al. At this point, "Active Transportation," and even "Complete Streets", is only equivalent to "walking." So as long as there are sidewalks and pedestrian crossing, all is OK from the province's perspective. That the "Cycling Strategy" references these laws and regs while little has happened with them only confirms my suspicions that nothing more will get done. Meanwhile some Municipalities in Ontario are pushing cycling forward faster than others; compare Toronto with Ottawa.

The Ministry(s) of Health is already the Province's (single) biggest cost, and this is only growing as we become less healthy from our (collective) inactive lifestyles. They can barely pay doctors and find money to keep hospitals open, and these health care costs are placing financial pressures on all other areas of government that every other ministry is forced to look hard to save money (for example: Bill 115).

Even further down within our health care system, we see Hospitals which are willing to build bike parking for staff to attract talent and save dollars, but these same hospitals won't build bike parking for visitors because that would eat into the Parking revenues that hospitals need. The same thing also occurs at many doctor offices, there's often no patient bike parking. (I could go even farther with my cynicism and say that they don't provide visitor/patient bike parking in order to keep up the demand for their services! But I don't think that actually is the case.) Often, this lack of bike parking becomes a cyclic "Catch 22" situation where bike parking won't be provided because no-one rides, and no-one will ride because there's no bike parking provided.

Even though the OMA came out in strong support of cycling in Ontario, there's little understanding of the aggregate health benefits of cycling and the associated cost saving at the bureaucratic levels anywhere in the government of Ontario. We know that there is likely a savings to be had from encouraging more people to ride, but (here in Ontario) we have no idea what that savings would be.

As far as I know, no ROI (Return On Investment) analysis comparing the investment in cycling infrastructure against the savings in heath care costs has ever been done anywhere in Ontario. If there were such an analysis available then it would, in all likelihood, be the biggest single justification that we could ever have to get more cycling infrastructure investment made everywhere in our province!

There is only one thing that I think would make the biggest difference and would force our province to take more action on cycling in a big way, it is being able to see the results of an ROI analysis which compares investments in cycling infrastructure against the savings in heath care costs.
Other jurisdiction have done ROIs like these and have found the health care saving to be so great that they not only continue to make investments in cycling infrastructure, but will actually increase the investment levels!

To provide but one example, the city of Portland has claimed that they get a $2 savings in heath care operating costs for every capital $1 that they invest in cycling infrastructure. (note: capital dollars are spent for infrastructure which lasts multiple years, operating costs occur annually. So if $1 in a capital investment lasts for 20 years, the total ROI would be $40!! Even if the $1 capital investment only lasted 5 years, the total ROI would be $10) If that kind of return were to be anywhere near true here as well, then cycling investment would give us a remarkably good value for our tax dollars.

However, even if we were to embrace cycling wholeheartedly, we are not going to completely ditch our cars. Neither Cycling nor Public transit, even in combination with each other, will ever solve everyone's transportation needs perfectly. We will still have many people driving from the 705 and 519 regions to their daily job in Toronto, we'll still have many driving from the 416 to jobs in the 905. What is likely to happen is that a few families will be able to drop one of their cars from their driveways: ie become a two car family from a three car family. However, the value of the remaining cars would actually go up! Higher value cars have higher profit margins, which is still good for the car makers and the car sellers.

Ultimately, and here's your answer, what is needed is a vision which includes cycling, and the leadership to push, and to sell that vision, for all its benefits. One Ministry alone cannot make a difference at the Provincial level on cycling. In my opinion, at least 12 to 13 ministries would each have to create it's own bike plans. What's worse is that these plans would often have to dovetail with each other, as well as with Municipal plans. We know that bureaucratic silos often have an aversion to, or at least difficulty, doing this kind of co-ordination, especially without strong leadership. MoTO would usually be in the best position to oversee and co-ordinate these cycling plans from, and across, other Ministries and Municipalities. However, other Ministries may sometimes need to take the lead, depending on the desired outcomes and priorities. But getting other people to spend their money for your priority can often be difficult, as I'm sure you can imagine. And this is why the leadership and the vision would have to play a key role.

But in our car-obsessed society, and in a province which is being wagged by the automotive industry, it is difficult to see how such a vision could be sold without coming off as being directly threatening to the automotive Industry. Consider this as an example: a Japanese auto maker (Honda) financed an Anime (Animated show) called "One Off" as an advertisement for their products. That this show spends it's entire opening scene (as one reviewer put it) "bashing ... bicycles and their riders as being childish and immature" as its attempt to make Honda's two-wheeled offerings look good should tell you what kind of obstacles we are going up against.

Good thoughts, and so let's follow up:

There's one sales tool that would tie those ministries together: money.
Politicians and statesmen - even the other driving forces in our society understand the big threat to our treasure chest these days: it's the country's growing obesity rate and with it the anticipated health consequences. In Canada, this will stress the health budget and no one has a decent tool on the table that will make a dent in the problem.

I think that cycling can be sold as this magic tool. Look at places that have invested in cycling and demonstrated significant impact on obesity: e.g. the city of Seattle or Denmark as a country. There's no reason this cannot be repeated here.

Look at the parallel: smoking. Horrible health consequences from the prevalence of that life style, and an industry/commerce behind it that had successfully fought for decades. What's the rate now: 30% maybe vs probably 60% 30 years ago?

It took the proof of second-hand smoking to shake up society. And money was the stopping power: potential law suits against businesses that permitted smoking on their premises. Maybe we can find a similar approach....

simplicius2wheels,

Yes. Money is a key answer here - but tread carefully!

While cycling has been proven to make overall populations healthier and save on public health care costs, the other side of the coin is the risks that this would impose on the province's investments in the automotive industry, and the impacts that car-use reduction could have on the overall economy.

The problem is that the automotive companies will use FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) and threats (of plant closures, layoffs, etc) to scare our Government from taking any real action to support and promote cycling. Also, as there has yet to be one good ROI analysis on the health care cost benefits of cycling infrastructure investments in Ontario, so we don't yet have the tools to fight back against the FUD and threats the automotive industry will use.

At this point MoTO must either think that we cyclists are either so attention starved that we'll latch on to anything put before us with out much care or thought, or else they think that we are stupid and cannot read and comprehend their "strategy" to see that they are not really proposing anything that they are not already doing here; or perhaps they think that enough of both are true that we'll accept their offering with out much whining. In other words, MoTO has given us a document outlining what they are already doing and are calling that their "Cycling Strategy". So, really, nothing is going to change.

If you are happy to hear about what the province is doing, and you think that it is (more than) enough, then you have every right to give that feedback. If you are not happy what the province has been doing and would like to see some real changes and real programs and policies to support and encourage cycling, then I would encourage you tell the Ministry that they should come back to us with a REAL plan.

We are disappointed when reality doesn't meet our expectations.
I was (and I am still) disappointed with Chiarelli's Cycling Strategy only because I thought that the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MoTO) was already doing the things outlined in the Strategy. In fact, I see the things in the strategy as being the absolute lowest possible level of service that I would expect MoTO to be doing with regards to cycling. On the one hand I am happy that the Ministry is rising to meet this level of expectation, however, I am still very disappointed with the strategy as it doesn't do anything more than meet the lowest expectation I have.

At the same time my attitude must also be seen as very large compliment to the people within MoTO, including the Minister, that I have such high expectations all of them. I sincerely hope that everyone within MoTO will rise up and meet these even higher expectations. I also expect that this is true for the many other people who have expressed their frustration and disappointment with this Strategy, such as it is right now.

In the meantime, I have gone out of my way to find out why some people are speaking so positively about the Strategy. This has been an insightful process, and has also re-enforced to me how much more needs to be done to push cycling issues forward than what has been done, including the introduction of the current strategy.

Many municipalities outside of Toronto are very enthusiastic about the strategy as MoTO seems to be wanting to take a leadership role in bringing the design guidelines for cycling infrastructure to them. These municipalities have not been the innovators of cycling infrastructure, and they also have limited resources to research cycling infrastructure designs. These same municipalities, because of their limited resources, were also not involved with the processes of the creation, nor the adoption, of these design guidelines. Having MoTO play a more active role in making these guideline available will make it easier for these municipalities to apply these designs, and therefore, to incorporate cycling infrastructure within their borders.

Many Municipalities are also looking forward to being a part of the Province's cycling network, or are looking to expand and enhance their own recreational and/or local tourism value with the inclusion of cycling infrastructure to their communities. More than a few municipalities would like to build cycling infrastructure, but sometimes this cannot be afforded within their own budgets. These municipalities are hoping that this strategy means that at least some money will be coming from the province to help pay for these investments.

Cycling advocacy groups, in particular, have also been very enthusiastic about Chiarelli's announcement. In part it's because it looks like cycling is (finally) being taken (at least somewhat) seriously by MoTO. It's also the first time (in a long time) that cycling has been looked at in a serious way by our provincial government. And Cycling advocacy groups are especially happy that Minister Chiarelli's has invited feedback to the proposal. However, this re-enforces two of my earlier assertions about how attention-starved cycling has been as an issue at the provincial level, and how attention-starved cycling advocates are at the provincial level.

(As a side note, I heard a rumour that the province has gotten more feedback on this Cycling Strategy than they have ever had for a single issue. If that's true, then that, itself, is really big news! The feedback had only been opened for five days before I heard this, meanwhile the deadline for feedback is still a few weeks away! How I'd love to be able to read the comments, or at least find out more about what kind of comments, that they have gotten so far.)

Road safety is a shared responsibility; it has always been this way. It has always been the case that different users have differing amounts, or levels, of responsibility. That the province is starting to help both motorists and cyclists better understand their roles in road safety is a praiseworthy action to be taken, and one long overdue. But the proposed actions still do not go far enough. Nor does it look like the government is taking cycling education beyond the "Cycling Skills" booklet at this time; there's so much more that ought to be done with education.

Our province regularly reviews the "active" legislation that it has. The Highway Traffic Act (HTA) is particularly active as we all use the "Highways" as they are defined in the Act, and we all have ideas of how we can/should/ought to make the HTA better. Provincial governments have always made some adjustments to the HTA in order to improve enforcement, improve safety, or improve clarity, or for other good reasons. Even cycling related legislation in the Act has been "tweaked" regularly, and reasonably recently. That MoTO will regularly review and update the HTA, or that cycling related changes become part of the updates is not what's new. What is new is this: "... and other relevant legislation and policies to improve cycling safety." If there is going to be an emphasis or priority on the safety of cyclists, then legislation would be one of the key pieces; however the other key piece, namely enforcement, is not mentioned. Which gets back to another of my assertions, specifically that a good cycling strategy or plan has to go way beyond the Ministry of Transportation. Other Ministries, and their agencies, also have to be brought in to play their roles to effectively improve safety.

MoTO collects data, it always has. This data comes from all over the place, literally & figuratively. Some of the data comes from when we register or renew our vehicle licences, some from police as part of their reports and investigations on crashes and collisions, some from the courts, as also other sources such as research and direct counts, ie traffic counts. We can only understand data when we analyse it. What data we chose to collect and how we do the analysis will tell us stories and even provide insights about what has happened.

The Strategy says: "The Ministry will continue to gather and analyse data related to collisions involving cyclists and motor vehicles which in turn will help to inform planning and policy decisions.Cycling related data will continue to be published each year in the Ontario Road Safety Annual Report." - that the info gathered will be used to inform decisions is new. The question one has to ask is: Why hasn't this been done before now?

Cycling Advocacy Groups and Active Transportation Researches should get their grant writing pens out, because now MoTO plans to "support research aimed at improving knowledge related to cycling in Ontario" - and it also plans to monitor such research. If MoTO were really wise, it would also monitor research from outside of Ontario to see what cost-effective and/or proven ideas could be brought and tried here.

There are many who are very happy that the strategy sates that MoTO "will encourage municipalities to collect cycling related data and to share this data withe interested parties ... in order to understand the needs, patterns and barriers to cycling in the province." - This could be a really great item if "interested parties" means that the data will be open to everyone. Local and regional cycling advocate groups could become valuable assets to their communities by helping and advising with the creation of better policies and assisting with identifying the prioritization of investments in cycling if they had access to this kind of data, especially in those municipalities with fewer in-house resources.

lastly, the section on Co-ordination states that MoTO "will coordinate and share cycling information through regular meetings of the Ministry's Active Transportation Working Group, which includes representative from all relevant Ministry divisions" - so far so good.
And then this: "In addition, the Ministry will continue to share cycling information and coordinate cycling related activities across all relevant provincial ministries and provincial agencies through regular meetings of the Inter-Ministerial Active Transportation Working Group." - But you see, that only works when the other ministries actually show up and participate in a meaningful way; the Ministry of Education has been absent from this working group, even after repeated invitations to join in.

The co-ordination section goes on to say that MoTO "...will continue to liaise with cycling shareholders and organizations across the province on both local issues and broader Ministry activities as they relate to cycling as a mode of transportation." If "continue" means we we only give our feedback via an on-line form, or that the province will only speak with Eleanor McMahon of Share The Road then that's not really good enough. However, that MoTO is willing to sit down with us and discuss cycling in a transportation context is a huge deal, and we welcome those opportunities.

And now it is time that we each contribute our own thoughts and ideas about what we would like the Ministry of Transportation, and the Province as a whole, to be doing for cycling -- in all the ways, and for all the reasons, we ride ride bicycles. Do it right now by filling out the feedback form, or wlse by writing (and mailing) a letter to the mailing contact indicated.

**Holy crap! Where's Antony's wife. Let this guy watch some TV will ya!
**
Everyone watch their speed out there? City Trans. is doing a new study on it. Those damned e-bikes going too fast at 30 so Trans. wants a speed limit of 20. When they're done everybody will be crawling along at 20 or paying the $350. Nice cash-grag.

Hello Toronto.

From 2002-2007 our provincial charity, the Ontario Trails Council worked with Velo Ontario, the Ontario Trillium Foundation and others to define the "Ontario Bicycle Route" or OBR.

We believe this will be the backbone of any new on the ground routes.

Concurrently from 2002-to date, we have worked with larger provincial trail networks that promote on-road cycling, i.e. Waterfront Regeneration Trust, Trans Canada Trail and regional governments to develop safe practices for trails that include roads.

Since 2006 we have worked with architects and planners through MMM Group, OPPI etc. to develop a master planning process to see safe trails built. In this model we see Active Transportation and Trails intersect as a public service. As recently as last week Perth County (County Seat: Stratford) met to discuss their "Active Transportation and Trails Masterplan" through the newly formed Active Transportation and Trails Committee.

Ask the community leaders out there - hey who got us together? OTC, ie. Doug Cota Cycle Ontario, Doug Cerson Kissing Bridge Trail etc......

What got them together as desire for safe cycling, tourism recapture, economic benefit, maps, signage, co-ordinated policy, etc

I would strongly suggest that each of you talk to Issie, of Issie's Cycles and use his input as to why he supported our efforts to make change.

We would be happy to work with you. We believe the City needs an "Urban Trail Committee" model described at: http://www.ontariotrails.on.ca/trail-services/trail-managing

We are working with Cycle Toronto to move forward. So far they have welcomed our commentary on the Beltline developments. For that we thank them.

We provided comment to the Cycling Strategy in meetings with MTO officials so far. We would welcome your input as we move toward the reporting deadline.

Thanks.

Patrick,

With all due respect to yourself and to the others working with Ontario Trails Council, I don't like talking about cycling and trails together. Here's why:
Trails remove government priority from making our streets and roads safer.
Trails don't get my kids to their schools.
Trails don't get me to work.
Trails don't get our family to the stores, nor to the other destinations we need to go to.
Our friends and neighbour's don't live on trails, and nor do we.

I know many people who put their bike on their car and then drive their bike to the trail to go for a bike ride. That's not me, nor is it my family.

Don't get me wrong; we do USE trails. But, interestingly, my youngest daughter says that she doesn't like riding her bike on the trails we use. She finds them boring to ride on as there's too few people to look at, and no stores to stop in. She finds trails to be "dead spaces" in comparison to a decent street. She also find the dogs as well as the people walking on them to be far less predictable than the drivers on the streets, making it actually feel less safe than a decent street. She's had no on-street collisions, but numerous on-trail collisions. And, she has a scar on her neck from a burn that she got from a dog leash that was across the trail she was riding on, the dog and owner were on opposite sides but still connected by the (thin, rope & nearly impossible to notice, flexi-) leash.

Further, I don't want trails to take the focus away from the things that are important to me and my family, namely safer streets and roads. Outside of Toronto, too many of the trails are useless for riding a bike on because of all the ATVs; they're worse than the cars and trucks on the streets! And ATVs are worse still than the walkers and their dogs.

Toronto has already built more km of trails than were planned for in it's 2001 Bike Plan, yet Toronto has only built a fraction on-street of what was planned for during that same time. Toronto has already had way too much focus on trails. If you want to have more people driving their cars to the places where the trails connect, you are free to chase the trails option all you want. But you're not going to get MY support, nor the support from my family. We want safer streets with on-street cycling infrastructure because it's the streets, not the trails, that connect us to the places that we want to got to on our bikes.

The bicycle's has many potential benefits for our communities which are only realized when we can begin replacing other trips which would have been made by a car, like those many trips to the local stores, to schools, the library, community centres, friends, those other places where we play and eat, and even to work. But because trails don't connect us to these places we won't see the benefits of cycling in our communities. The bike trips taken on trails rarely replace car trips. At best, trails can only connect our communities to each other, but they cannot connect us to those places we want to go within those communities. Another reason why you won't get my support is that the cycling which occurs on the trails aren't benefits for the community at-large; these rides only benefit the rider.

In addition, all of our communities are already connected by streets and roads. Improving these and making them safer to ride on give us far more opportunities to ride than a trail connecting two (or more) communities could. By improving the riding the riding conditions on those streets I now not only have the access to the other community(s), but I also have access to all of the resources which are on those streets, be those homes, businesses, places to play or eat, or whatever else could be there. A trail only connects me to the destination(s) which it (the trail) serves -- but that doesn't mean that I can ride (in comfort and in safely) to the actual destination that I want from having used that trail!

However, if you wanting to turn our STREETS into trails (ie car-free streets) upon which we can cycle, then I'm behind that 100%! Otherwise, I've heard too much about trails.

I've seen too many good cycling advocates who have been sucked in to do work on trails; advocating the building of new trails, improving existing trails, trail this and trail that. Meanwhile our streets are not getting any safer, and the drivers are not getting any better at sharing our roads with bikes. Again, with all due respect, you're not going to sucker me down that trail (pun intended) - I'm taking my advocacy to the streets!

There's no conflict here: you need both. Even if you consider urban vs rural environments,

In the city, it's obvious that we need to be able to cycle safely on road surfaces. But parks and their trails give us connecting pieces that are enjoyable even if we have to slow down occasionally for others. My way to work from east Scarberia to Eglinton and DonMills was along city streets as well as on trails winding through our neat park system.

In the country, you are lucky if you can connect from town to town via a proper path. But the reality is that for most destinations you are faced with roads and gravel shoulders that make cycling there a daunting adventure.

I welcome the OTC's advocacy including the fight to hold back ATV use on the trails. And make sure the Province builds safe shoulders along the roads.

In the city we'll need to focus on safe use of the streets. If you want to help - great! The laws and the attitude of motorists towards cyclists need to change - and we all will benefit from such change.

I couldn't agree more.
Thanks anthony.

pennyfarthing ok frye