Support Carbon Tax Funding for Cycling

The BC Government is Reviewing the Carbon Tax

As announced in Budget 2012, over the next year the government will undertake a comprehensive review of the carbon tax and its impact on British Columbians. The review will cover all aspects of the carbon tax, including revenue neutrality, and will consider the impact on the competitiveness of B.C. businesses such as those in the agriculture sector, and in particular, B.C.’s food producers.

Comments are due on August 31, 2012. See below for details and to Take Action.

The British Columbia Cycling Coalition strongly supports British Columbia’s world leading Carbon Tax. To improve its effectiveness and benefits to the people of BC, we strongly recommend:

  1. Investing revenue from the tax in transportation options including cycling, walking and public transit that enable people to reduce their use of gasoline and other fuels.
  2. Increasing the rate of the Carbon Tax as transportation options are improved using the revenue to cover the financing of the improvements.
  3. Extending the Carbon Tax to industrial produces that are currently exempt and using this addition $125 million in annual revenue to fund initiatives including cycling networks that will enable people to reduce their GHG emissions.

If the decision is made to continue revenue neutrality for some or all the revenue, we also recommend that tax and other measures that encourage cycling be included.

Providing people with realistic transportation choices will prove to increase the effectiveness of the Carbon Tax while reducing the cost of living and doing business in British Columbia. The cost of the Carbon Tax is very small compared to the cost of gasoline. Even with continued increases in the Carbon Tax rate, investing in cycling facilities will decrease the total cost of gasoline to British Columbians.

No other transportation investment of similar size can boast the potential to be enjoyed by and benefit people of all ages, in communities large and small, throughout the province. Investments in these facilities will benefit a much greater portion of British Columbians and enable them to reduce their carbon emissions.

Approximately 50% of Metro Vancouver residents cycle at least occasionally  with 85% support government funding, planning, and promoting of cycling. In the  Capital Region 82% support funding for cycling. Support is likely similar in the rest of British Columbia.

Communities across the province have produced extensive cycling network plans. Unfortunately, due to lack of funding, the cycling networks typically will not be complete for 20 to 30 year. We urge the province to help create all ages and abilities cycling networks before today’s children are grandparents.

Surrey has recently completed a cycling plan that includes over 470 km of additional bike lanes and paths. With current funding, it plans on completing around 12km per year but has indicated that additional funding from senior levels of government would speed implementation of the plan. The recently completed Pedestrian & Cycling Master Plan – Capital Regional District estimated the cost of upgrading the bicycle network to attract people of all ages and abilities is around $275 million.

As such, the British Columbia Cycling Coalition (BCCC) is proposing a dramatic acceleration of the investment in cycling infrastructure including bicycle paths, separated bicycle lanes and other high quality bicycle facilities. This investment in infrastructure, accompanied by funding for education, promotion, and end-of-trip facilities, will enable residents and visitors of all ages and abilities to safely and conveniently cycle throughout the province, fostering healthier individuals and communities.

With this investment, cycling can become a practical transportation alternative for more people, leading to significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions, congestion, health care costs, and cycling fatality rates.

A large expenditure on cycling facilities is required to make up ground lost through several decades of under-investment . The Netherlands, widely hailed as the world leader in cycling, spends approximately $40 per person per year on cycling. Several other jurisdictions with cycling levels similar to that of BC are matching or exceeding that level of investment including Winnipeg, Portland, Oregon and Sydney, Australia.

Based on a funding level of $40 per person per year, the BCCC recommends a total investment by all levels of government of $175 million per year in cycling facilities in communities and on provincial roads around British Columbia. A commitment of a significant portion of the Carbon Tax revenue to this will encourage other levels of government to increase their commitments to cycling.

This investment will enable the construction of hundreds of kilometres of high quality facilities in communities around the province, giving the majority of British Columbians access to great bicycle routes.

Importantly, cycling facilities also benefit those who don’t ride a bicycle. Multi-use paths are used by pedestrians, in-line skaters, electric wheelchairs, personal mobility scooters, and skateboards. Traffic calming along bicycle routes benefits neighbourhoods, making streets safer for all pedestrians. But it has particular benefit for seniors, children, and the disabled. Bike lanes along busy streets calm traffic, enhancing the pedestrian environment and creating a more welcoming retail atmosphere.

Take Action

Please write on or before August 31:
Honourable Kevin Falcon
Minister of Finance

And cc:
Premier@gov.bc.ca,  blair.lekstrom.mla@leg.bc.ca, Bruce.Ralston.MLA@leg.bc.ca, adrian.dix.MLA@leg.bc.ca, harry.bains.mla@leg.bc.ca

You can also show support for Carbon Tax revenue being used for projects to benefit the people of BC at the Better Future Fund site.

This entry was posted in Campaigns, Carbon Tax.

One Comment

  1. Posted August 28, 2012 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    Excellent post, Richard. Thanks for highlighting the benefits of a strengthened and expanded carbon tax. Just three days left to share your thoughts with Minister Falcon for the carbon tax review, everyone! Thanks also for the pointer to the Better Future Fund site. Cheers!