As some might already know, I love my bike – cycling is one of my favourite activities. It’s also my main method of transportation for the better part of the year: it’s an inexpensive, effective and reliable way to get around the city and a great way to build physical activity into my day-to-day life.
Sometimes though, biking from one community meeting to another can be a little difficult and – depending on the destination – some trips can be outright nightmares. Simply put, there are many areas in the city where the cycling infrastructure is either poorly maintained, poorly connected or absent altogether.
The cycling community in Edmonton is flourishing and growing more each year, so it’s only appropriate that the infrastructure to support cycling should expand as well. Edmonton is famous for its river valley trails, but few everyday destinations are located in the valley.
The creation of more multiuse trails across the city would benefit not just cyclists but other groups such as walkers and joggers. Building a more comprehensive and complete network of bike paths – following the recommendations made in, and fully funding, the Bicycle Transportation Plan – would also allow more people to bike to and from their destinations.
Paths, however, have their limitations. To get where I need to go quickly, I ride my bike on the road almost all of the time, sharing the space with cars, trucks and motorcycles. At the same time, I know riding in traffic is not something that everyone is comfortable with or able to do. It can be scary and even dangerous to navigate fast-moving traffic on a bike. The creation of more dedicated bike lanes, multiuse trails, and sharrows (on roads with lighter traffic) would help immensely in helping to make commuting safer and more comfortable for cyclists.
Getting bike racks for all of the city’s buses is another one of my priorities. Integrating cycling with other modes of transportation is very important, especially in a city as large as Edmonton where cycling from one end of the city to the other can take hours. I would also lobby for the construction of end-of-use facilities for bicycle commuters in high bike traffic areas such as downtown. These end-of-use facilities could be incorporated into city rec centres and new and existing parks so as to be of benefit to other groups as well.
Encouraging Edmontonians to use alternative modes of transport such as walking, cycling, and taking the bus comes with many benefits, including saving Edmontonians’ money: biking lowers household transportation costs, health care costs decrease, productivity increases, local community businesses receive more support, and the city’s road maintenance expenses are also greatly reduced. All of this leads to lower taxes and a stronger economy.
Ultimately, it just makes sense to continue improving upon the cycling infrastructure in the city. Edmonton can be a happier and healthier place with increased levels of physical activity and improved air quality.