Behind Ontario’s $25-million bike infrastructure promise
Ontario has pledged $25 million in funding for cycling programs across the province.
The funding will be rolled out over the next three years, with the first $10 million allotted to help municipalities expand their cycling routes. An additional $15 million will be dedicated to fund pilot programs including building cycling infrastructure on provincial highways and bridges.
And for cycling enthusiasts like Eleanor McMahon, this is nothing but good news.
“We’re thrilled; we’ve been fighting for this funding for years.”
With this kind of money, the President and CEO of Share the Road Coalition adds, “we will be able to bridge the gap for existing projects, and also fund new ones.”
The idea of cycling on an Ontario highway may not sound like a fun way to get around. But it’s not as foreign elsewhere: Jurisdictions such as British Columbia already have infrastructure in place allowing cyclists to ride on some highways and bridges.
Good thing, too: Richard Campbell, President of the B.C. Cycling Coalition, warns that because of higher speeds drivers and cyclists do need to take extra caution on highways.
Specifics of Ontario’s plan remain unknown. And with a provincial election on the horizon some critics have argued the funding is merely tokenistic and, once divided among municipalities, not enough to make any substantial change. (It cost about $2.5-million to build separated bike lanes between Toronto’s King and Bloor streets. The city’s 10-year cycling infrastructure plan would build “up to” 100 km of off-street bicycle paths, 80 km of on-street paths and 8,000 new bike parking spaces, and cost almost $91-million.)
But after years of hard work McMahon sees this latest commitment differently – as a chance not only for infrastructure cash, but for cycling to be part of every transportation-funding equation.
“The government is finally taking cyclists seriously. We fund every other mode of transportation, why not cycling?”