Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Budgeting for Bicyclists

I know I have a lot of catching up to do around here. It's just one of those things that happens when you have too much going on at once.

Today, Toronto is hearing "presentations" from the public regarding the capital budget for 2008. I would have liked to show up in person but it was impossible. I made an email presentation instead. Right this minute, the public is probably making presentations to city council, so "for the record", as they say on the CBC, here's my email presentation made public.

To Toronto Councillors:

As I am unable to attend the Capital Budget Hearings, please accept this email as my public presentation.

I am deeply concerned about the future of our city. We can build Toronto into one of two cities. We can build a city for people; or we can build a city for respiratory disease deaths, traffic jams, high energy costs, and death and injury of pedestrians and cyclists. If we build the wrong city, we will also bear the burden of responsibility for climate change and its impact.

This is not hyperbole. These are real problems recognized repeatedly in study after study. In fact, Toronto's own Medical Officer of Health recently reported that 440 people die per year from motor vehicle pollution. The International Energy Agency predicts a serious energy crisis by 2012 as oil exporting nations reduce their exports in favour of domestic use. That is only a few years away.

These problems demand a multifaceted solution. Fortunately, we don't need to experiment, as the critical pieces of the solution have been implemented in other cities around the world. Public transit improvements and cycling infrastructure are key. Vancouver, Montreal, Paris, London, Portland, New York and Chicago have all added welcoming bicycle infrastructure in recent years. Even Toronto's mayor and councillors have recognized the importance and value of cycling infrastructure by promising to implement the bike network by 2012. However, the current capital budget contradicts this.

It is Toronto's neglected bicycle infrastructure about which I write today.

To see success with the Bike Plan, at the very least you need to:
1. Move the $38 million for the bicycle plan scheduled for after 2012 back to the 2008 to 2011 plan.
2. Hire additional staff to begin implementing bike lanes, bike paths and highway crossings immediately.
3. Restore the $200K to the Parks, Forestry and Recreation budget for bike paths.
4. Ensure financing for bike paths to be implemented in 2008, including the CN Leaside Spur Bike Path and the Finch Hydro Corridor Bike Path.

Please make these changes to our capital budget, so we can build a Toronto that can handle the great challenges faced by our citizens today and in the future.

Pedestrian deaths
Automobile pollution deaths
IEA Energy Crisis
Promises from Toronto Council

If you would like to write a letter, there's still time. You can get some good numbers from TCAT.

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Darren J 11/13/2007 10:19:00 a.m.


Great letter Darren! Well written too. :)

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