Friday, 13 December 2013

Concerns on cycling

What a packed month for activities at London City Hall!  Monday saw the approval to exempt Rockin' New Year's Eve from the fine for exceeding the maximum noise level, and Tuesday's decision to continue the study for the Blackfriars-Petersville heritage conservation district met (mostly) happy agreement.

This coming Monday, December 16th, the Strategic Priorities and Policy Committee meets at 4:00 PM (16h00) and the gallery should be packed:  a group of London cyclists have a delegation to encourage City Council to form a Cycling Advisory Committee (or "CAC").  

Photo courtesy of London Cycle Link

The City currently has 12 advisory committees.  These committees consist of community members who volunteer their time to give direction to the the standing committees - made up of city councillors - on items that fall into their purview.  (As an aside, I sit on the Advisory Committee on the Environment.)

Currently, many topics relating to cycling get discussed by the Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC).  Of course, TAC also covers traffic, roadways, public transit, and so forth, and many feel that cycling gets lost in the mix and cyclists have requirements that differ from motor vehicles.

Most other cities of comparable size in Ontario have a CAC.  London has made great strides toward endorsing active transportation (walking, cycling, etc.) and having a CAC created will help greatly to achieve the established goals.  In essence, the City must embrace the idea of prioritizing transportation in the following order:
  1. walking
  2. cycling
  3. public/mass transit
  4. commercial vehicles
  5. commuter traffic

Using this order of precedence reduces the number of commuter vehicles (normally single-occupancy travellers), which alleviates traffic congestion.  Less traffic means less wear and tear on the roads, eliminates the need to expand/add lanes (which only causes more traffic), lower pollution levels, and more room on the road for cyclists and busses.  It also means more money in the pockets of the everyday citizen:  33% of our energy costs in London (that's everybody who lives and works here) go toward powering vehicles at a cost of $433 million per year, and the vast majority of that money flows out of the city.

Young people also tend to avoid purchasing a vehicle - and who can blame them with thousands in student debt and trouble finding a job?  The need for a car to get around provides one of the biggest problems for London as a whole.  Students will choose to go to another city with adequate transit and access to safe cycling.

With cycling at #2 on the list above, the approval to create the Cycling Advisory Committee should receive unanimous consent on Monday.  Anyone voting against will require a darned convincing counter-argument (and it had better not contain the words "zero percent").