Saskatoon advocates call for increased cycling infrastructure
Saskatoon Cycles requesting city to use full $500,000 allocated for 2012 budget
First Posted: Dec 6, 2011 10:17am | Last Updated: Dec 6, 2011 2:30pm
A group of Saskatoon cyclists is closely watching Saskatoon City Council budget deliberations.
“What Saskatoon Cycles wants is to see the full $500,000, it’s currently allocated in the budget for 2012 for cycling infrastructure to be funded,” said Sean Shaw, past president Saskatoon Cycles, a bike safety advocacy group.
The city currently funds cycling infrastructure to the tune of $75,000 a year and it’s not enough to improve the safety of cycling infrastructure in the city, he said.
The organization has been working with city administration to develop a plan to bring the cycling infrastructure in Saskatoon up to standards from the rest of the prairies, said Tom Wolf, the vice-president of Saskatoon Cycles.
“We think that it’s probably wise to consider investment in cycling at this time when we’re growing to rapidly,” he said.
“We’re trying to raise the level of overall investment so that we don’t get further behind.”
During last year’s budgeting, the city’s transportation branch put forward a request for $2.5 million over five years, Wolf said. It did not get approved, so the administration asked for $500,000 this year but not in any subsequent years, which means next year they will have to go back to the table with a similar request, according to Wolf.
Saskatoon Cycle was involved with the transportation branch to point out the areas that need work, said Wolf.
Currently about 2.4 per cent of the population commutes using bicycles, he said.
“We’re trying to find a way of making the amount of money that cycling receives more representative of the number of people that choose to ride their bike.”
As councilors prepare to debate, Shaw thinks that the $500,000 Saskatoon Cycles is optimistic.
He said they have done a good job speaking with city council and rallying support from across the community —membership in the group is up to nearly 1,300 people.
Coun. Charlie Clark calls himself a strong advocate of cycling.
“We have an opportunity with some wise investments to get a lot of bang for our buck using more signs and more paint and identifying key routes that could be safe cycling routes,” he said.
One of the routes he identifies is 23rd Street from Idylwyld Drive to Confederation Mall or the Shaw Centre.
“We need to make the routes more visible and make it a much more integrated system,” said Clark.
Coun. Mairin Loewen said she plans on speaking in support of funding for cycling infrastructure.
“An investment in cycling infrastructure assists cyclists with traveling more safely throughout the city. But it also assists pedestrians and motorists because as cyclists have a safe route to travel … then pedestrians and motorists are protected as well.”
While Shaw said he is encouraged, he knows that the tax increase is already set at 4.7 per cent, and that council will want to reduce that.
“We don’t think we are entitled to that money, but we would really appreciate if council would recognize the need to start funding cycling in the city,” he said.
Edited by News Talk Radio's Jared Knoll.