Build it and they will come! Do you think it’s happening in our Region?

Usually I shoot down the ‘Kevin Costner’ field of dreams arguements pretty quickly. I certainly didn’t like the arguement during our regions debate over LRT (although I was won over after attending a few public LRT round-tables).

However, I’m starting to become a believer when it comes bicycle infrastructure. Here’s a decent article run in Cycle Citizen.

If winter hits again this year, let’s keep our city counselors informed on how they can help us cyclists.

4 thoughts on “Build it and they will come! Do you think it’s happening in our Region?

  1. I’ve used cold and snowy European cities to try to tell people it’s possible to ride throughout the winter, but I hear one of the following *always*:

    1. “We’re not Europe”…Usually this is it. Obviously we’re not Europe, but what is this suppose to mean?

    2. “Our winters are still colder and snowier”…For whatever reasons we like to believe no one else is as cold or colder then we are. Oulu Finland is the best example of a city that is colder then any city in Southern Ontario, yet they have a significant amount of people cycling throughout the winter.
    It’s not out of the question for Copenhagen to receive a lot of snow or cold temperatures either.

    The first day back on the air, the SUV driving radio host (from London/Hamilton) went on about how bike lanes are taking up “our space” this time of year since only the 10 ‘hard-core avid cyclists’ are riding right now…
    Well as it stands St. Catharines has received no snow that has stuck on the ground. I see 10 people on bikes passing my house in less then an hour and last year, one of our worst winters I saw a considerable amount of people on bikes, despite piss-poor road conditions.

    As much of a douche I think the radio host is, he may have a point however. Canadian’s are too set in their ‘car-ways’. Until we actually make it expensive to drive people won’t look elsewhere (ie bikes, transit or god forbid Walk!)

    1. I think “we’re not Europe” is probably shorthand for “drivers won’t respect my right to the road here”, “we don’t have sufficient bicycle-specific infrastructure” and “we have to contend with a lot more urban sprawl and cities generally designed for cars”. I think it would be more reasonable to compare cities directly.

      Secondly, these are more arguments against cycling generally, except maybe that people are even more concerned about being squeezed off the road as snow and ice reduce the useable road space.

  2. This past summer I rode between toronto and waterloo on my way to Jack Layton’s funeral. This is where I became convinced of the importance decent bicycle infrastructure. It made me realize that we have it good here in waterloo region. Between waterloo region and downtown toronto we saw very few cyclists. Riding through the endless miles of suburbia and big box malls on our way into Toronto it was a cycling nightmare and I could only imagine how inhospitable it would be on a weekday during rush hour. Then suddenly after crossing the 427 we came across a bike lane and suddenly there were cyclists everywhere.

  3. While I am a winter cyclist, I was going to suggest that there are differences between Europe and North America. Population density, I imagined, was different… but then I looked on Wikipedia. Toronto and Amsterdam have fairly similar densities, as do the Region of Waterloo and Oulu, Finland (mentioned above). So I guess that doesn’t work.

    There are cultural differences, however, notably car culture. I know that bigbox stores and shopping malls certainly exist in Europe, but in my experience they are not as common, and free parking in particular is not as common. But that’s a difference of infrastructure which promotes Graham’s original point. If we move away from bigger cars, we might also see real advances in fuel efficiency too (

    Houses are definitely bigger here, and people are more likely to buy big/bulk at big box stores. There are limits to what you can carry home on your bike. At least mythologically, Europeans are more likely to buy groceries multiple times a week in smaller stores closer to home. But that’s largely infrastructure as well, and isn’t so different in Canadian urban centres anyway.

    So, maybe there really aren’t so many differences between Europe and Canada afterall! And some changes in infrastructure might have a real effect on peoples’ mindsets.

    On a side note, this recent article in the Record (–farming-in-the-urban-shadow) talks about the negative effects of urban sprawl on farmers as well, so there are lots of reasons to encourage density besides cycling.The LRT is one method of encouraging it.

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