Saturday, August 09, 2003

Racing Away with the Cycling Money

WORLD CYCLING RACE - HAMILTON 2003 - "Cycling is not just a sport"

Cycling Is Not Just A Sport: It's Also Transportation!
City Council will have a difficult time ignoring the concerns of city cyclists when bike advocates show up to the 2nd floor council chambers with their vehicles.

On Thursday, Hamilton City Council's Committee of the Whole will be voting to "fast track" almost $12 million worth of road improvements so the city can host the 2003 World Cycling Championships.

The work being done for the World Championships will do nothing to make the streets safer for cyclists who live and ride in Hamilton all the time, even though three cyclists have already been killed by motor vehicles on Hamilton's roads this year, and many more injured.

Transportation for Liveable Communities (TLC) is demanding that the city recognize that cycling is not just a sport but also a sustainable means of transportation, and fast track plans to make it a safer option in Hamilton.

Roads made up 46% of the city's 2001 capital budget. Approximately $29.3 million will be going towards expressways, particularly the Lincoln Alexander Expressway, and another $33.5 million will be going towards other road projects. The capital budget for cycling projects is only $300,000.

In a city where 20% of households lack cars, and 40% of residents say they cycle regularly or occasionally (Hamilton-Wentworth Community Cycling Survey, 1997), spending $209 on car-centric capital improvements for every $1 on cycling is not acceptable.

The city already has plans that, though imperfect, could make the roads safer for cyclists, and might prevent future deaths. TLC demands that the city immediately implement "Shifting Gears: A New Cycling Plan For The Hamilton-Wentworth" as well as the traffic calming measures for downtown as suggested in "Putting People First: Downtown Transportation Plan."

Transportation for Liveable Communities is a group of Hamilton citizens and McMaster university students committed to promoting sustainable means of transportation--walking, running, cycling, and public transit. We will be attending the Committee of the Whole meeting (Thursday, August 9, 2 pm, Hamilton City Hall's council chambers), along with our helmets, our reflective gear, and our bikes, to demand that City Council make it a priority to support cycling-as-transportation by fast tracking the money to make substantial, immediate capital improvements, just as it will be doing for cycling-as-sport.