Monday, September 26, 2005

Report on the Bike Plan meeting

Flashback to last Wednesday night. (warning: potentially boring local stuff coming up)

I arrived hot and sweaty to the meeting. It’s a bike meeting, so everyone will be hot and sweaty, right? Wrong. From what I could see, I was the only one with a fresh helmet print on my forehead and sweat dripping down my back. Maybe it’s just my paranoia, but it looked like everyone else arrived early and must have made not as many wrong turns on their way there. I really need to learn the best bike routes through downtown.

The bulk of the discussion was focused on projects in the downtown of the city. The one part of the discussion about a project that I would see every day is the Finch Hydro Corridor bike path. Daniel Egan proposed this be finished in the next 3 years. This will be expensive (relative to other bike projects, but dirt cheap compared to all the road repairs) and involves a crossing of both the 404 and the 400. This path will be great for anyone in the north of the city traveling to either the Yonge and Sheppard offices or the Finch subway station.

Daniel Egan talked about how the planning for the bikeway network is being creatively budgeted by paying salaries through capital budget instead of the operating budget. This should help to make things happen faster than they have been in the past. The goal is to get as many projects planned and ready to go as possible, so the planning doesn’t hold up construction. Makes sense to me.

One point that came up from Charles O’Hara and the audience was to keep in mind the democratic process. If a particular project or general concept is important to you, write a personal letter to your councilor. If your councilor doesn’t respond how you like, make sure you vote accordingly in the next election. Someone mentioned that the next election is in 2006, so the election will be critical in the accelerated Bike Plan of the next 3 years.

There's more information about the accelerated Bike Plan here. And I have to expect there are people out there giving much more detailed reports than I am. I was surprised to see a number of people around me making notes on everything being said. I didn't even think of bringing a pen.

Last Thursday was Car-Free Day. This was not publicized, and there was no great public response to the day. The only reason I knew about it was because I put a reminder on my computer for it back in the spring when I was reading about Bike Week. Bike Week, scheduled at the beginning of the summer has much more potential to make a difference than Car Free Day. Simply the fact that it takes place over more than a week allows it to do more to affect peoples’ routines. Just declaring a day “car-free” isn’t going to do anything for someone who already knows that taking the bus will make their morning routine take three times as long.

There was an interesting article in the Toronto Star about Car Free Day. It gives a sample of the kinds of attitudes that bike advocates are up against in city hall. If you’re not familiar with Toronto, Councillor Michael Walker represents one of the most dense sections of the city outside of the downtown core filled with people who use public transit every day.

Darren J 9/26/2005 11:23:00 p.m.


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