Cycling and Walking - The Path to Good Health

Active transportation including walking, cycling, wheeling and any human-powered form of transport is increasingly popular in urban centres but also in mid-sized and smaller towns. Looking forward, infrastructure that facilitates active transportation will become increasingly important to meet the needs and demands of an aging population and the millennial generation who are ”less likely to learn to drive, own cars or drive as much as earlier generations”.[xi]

Please sign and share the petition to encourage the Government of BC to enable everyone in the Province to cycle and walk for their daily trips.

Many local governments have invested in active transportation facilities but need more financial support to build complete networks that will get residents more physically active. Smaller communities are especially challenged due to a small tax base and limited budgets. The Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute found in a survey of Canadian Municipalities that “three in five communities report that an increase in the amount of walking, bicycling and multi‐purpose trails was the most pressing infrastructure need in their community to increase physical activity levels among citizens.”[xii]

Community planning and infrastructure exerts a powerful influence over citizen’s access to healthy foods and ability to be physically active in their daily routines. “Research is increasingly demonstrating links between the built environment and eating and physical activity behaviours.” [xiii]

BC research found that adults are 2.5 times more likely to engage in active transportation when living in compact and well connected neighbourhoods. They are also more likely to get the recommended amounts of daily physical activity.[xiv] Furthermore, studies show that neighbourhoods that support active transportation are associated with reduced risk for obesity and reduced air pollution. One study found “a 5% increase in walkability to be associated with a per capita 32.1% increase in time spent in physically active travel, a 0.23-point reduction in body mass index, 6.5% fewer vehicle miles traveled, 5.6% fewer grams of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emitted, and 5.5% fewer grams of volatile organic compounds (VOC) emitted.”

The BC Ministry of Health’s ‘Healthy Families BC Policy Framework’ identifies seven evidence-based “best investments” for physical activity, which includes “transport policies and systems that prioritize walking, cycling and public transport.” This builds on a report by the Provincial Health Services Authority finding that “there is a growing consensus among public health experts that supporting more physically active modes of transportation and better access to recreational opportunities offer the most effective ways to increase activity levels across the population, particularly among people who are overweight and/or inactive.”[xv]

British Columbia needs an Active Transportation Strategy that will align policy and funding to support the development of local infrastructure within a larger provincial network. Other jurisdictions have adopted comprehensive cycling or active transportation plans such as neighbouring states, Washington, Oregon and Idaho. In Canada, Quebec has their well-known provincial network, the ‘Route Verte’ in addition to provincial bicycle policy and a new complementary Sustainable Mobility Strategy. Ontario has a new cycling strategy #CycleON that includes a 20-year vision with aspirational goals to make Ontario an internationally recognized destination for cycling. Nova Scotia’s Provincial Active Transportation Task Team was formed in 2010 with representatives from nine government departments and is now close to completing their first provincial policy framework for active transportation.

Building an active transportation network that meets the needs of British Columbians beyond the next ten years will require a significant increase in infrastructure funding. For example, high quality cycling facilities that are attractive to a significant portion of the population such as bicycle paths and separated bicycle lanes can cost from $1 million to $4 million per km (1/6 the cost of one km of road network for motorized vehicles).xvi

The Netherlands, considered a global leader in cycling provides funding at $40/person/year and other jurisdictions have made similar investments: Winnipeg $32/person/year; Brisbane $51/person/year; London $27/person/year.[xvi]  To compete with other leading jurisdictions, BC should be investing between $88M and $175M in active transportation per year over the next ten years.

The province is fortunate to have and should take advantage of the expertise that exists within British Columbia’s academic institutions and among practicing planners, engineers and community advocates. Indeed, Vancouver has been recognized internationally for growth of walking and cycling trips and will be the host city for Pro Walk / Pro Bike / Pro Place in in 2016 with the theme of “Better Health through Active Transportation.” This would be an ideal forum for the province to consult with experts from across North America and to profile BC’s next steps in developing an active transportation strategy.

Please sign and share the petition.

More at ‘BC ON THE MOVE’ in a Healthier Direction by the BC Health Living Alliance 

First photo: John Luton

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A Billion for Bikes - Cycling for Everyone Petition

I call upon the Government of BC to enable everyone in BC to cycle & walk in safety as part of their daily lives by implementing an Active Transportation Strategy that includes:

  • Investing $1 billion over the next ten years to:
    • Upgrade cycling & walking facilities on provincial roads & bridges
    • Complete cycling & walking networks in communities across BC
    • Provide safe routes to school for children
    • Build trails & routes for cycling & walking tourism
  • Ensuring that paths & protected bike lanes can be safely shared by people using wheelchairs, skateboards & in-line skates
  • Enhancing cycling education for children & adults
  • Promoting cycling & walking
  • Encouraging electric bike use by eliminating the PST & providing rebates
5,200 SUPPORTERS
800 needed to reach 6,000

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