The construction season is fast coming to a close. And as many of these construction projects end, the bike lanes are being put down. Just today I noticed that bike lanes have been installed on Royal York between Manitoba and Cavell; just the road markings and signage is missing. South Kingsway/Queensway Interchange (SKQI) is nearing completion and then bike lanes can be installed there, too. The same with the contra-flow lane on Stanley, and many other projects around the city.
Any approvals that will happen at the November PWIC meeting, the last meting this year, are probably not going to be able to be installed this year due to the change in weather; winter is fast approaching. City staff are already planning to clear snow from the city's bike lanes.
I've been warned that many of the bike lane proposals that staff are working on will involve public consultations. As we know these can come with little notice, so be forewarned that we could be busy attending these meeting in short order (One can hope, right?)
And we also have the 2009 budget to plan for. Heaps warned us that we'd have little hope of getting a budget increase if staff couldn't spend this year's budget by getting the 50km of new bike lanes down. We're still about 14km away from reaching that target just in approvals. It is likely that we won't make it. Heaps warned us that without the 50km of bike lanes installed then "we'll have nothing to hang our hat on." meaning that unless we meet targets, if we don't spend this year's budget first, then we'd be very unlikely to see any budget increases in next year's cycling infrastructure budget.
Of course too many of the councillors are to blame. Even those who are supposedly bike plan friendly but would kill 6km of bike lane in one shot on a road with an already high number of cyclists and an extremely low volume of motor-vehicle traffic but a high rate of fatalities; he did it with one lovely little speech. Or those who value the parking of Junkers over the safe passage of families on bikes. Then there are the councillors who know that trees are more important than people and that trees are irreplaceable, unlike cyclists. Or the councillor who is honestly confused by the "cycling conspiracy's" Bike Plan which he's never heard of, even though he sits on the PWI committee. (I could go on, but the themes simply repeat.)
We have work to do; we still have along way to go.
The very fact that the Bike Plan is on the Mayor's budget priority list does get me somewhat hopeful. The cycling community has done some good work this past year, and we've more progress this year than we have in many years, which is something to be celebrated. Events like the Bike Summit, the Criterium and CMWC races, the launch and start of the Bike Union, the Public Bike Forum, the many art show and the many rides, and other events have been a big part of this success by both raising awareness and the appreciation for cycling in its many forms.
But that leaves us with much to do. We have to not only repeat last year's performances, we have to top it. My two questions are simple:
- Of the many cycling organizations in the city, which would you like to know more about?
- and; What can you do to help?
because we're going to need your help!