Thursday, July 26, 2012

RE: A National Cycling Strategy



Dear Denis Lebel, Minister of Transport and Steven Fletcher, Minister of State (Transport),
CC: Olivia Chow, NDP Transport critic
CC: Denis Coderre, Liberal Transport Critic
CC: Elizabeth May, Leader, Green Party of Canada

I am writing today out of concern for Canada's lacking transit infrastructure. Too many years have passed without an appropriate strategy to ameliorate the anachronism that is Canada’s transit reality. We are decades behind our international competitors, and we are beginning to see associated inefficiencies in our economy. To create an equitable and efficient economy, Canadians regardless of place and socio-economic status need access to transportation for their meaningful participation in the labour market and skills development initiatives. I use this letter as a mean's to develop one of the most valuable tenants of a sustainable transit strategy: cycling.

Cycling is a preferred means of transport for two principal reasons; firstly, as a zero emissions means of transit, exchanging car use for cycling will dramatically help Canada reduce our green house gas emissions and mitigate the devastating effects of a climate crisis. Further, encouraging cycling is a pivotal tool in the fight against obesity and inactivity-related health issues.

Many complex barriers impede the adoption of cycling as Canada’s preferred means of transit, namely making streets across Canada safer for cyclists. That task, I leave to city planners while I employ my own training in social sciences to offer two policy recommendations that could advance cycling in Canada.

To begin, cost is the obvious first barrier to cycling. I argue that it is within the nation’s best interest to create a low-income bike grant that would provide, either through tax credit or voucher, support for low-income children and adults to acquire bicycles, safety equipment, and required maintenance. With obesity and sedentary lifestyles correlated to low income levels, a low-income bike grant would be a lifeline to many who want to embrace lifestyle changes but had previously been unable to. Further, many children, markedly those of single parent homes, students, and homeless Canadians would be eligible for such a grant. This grant would provide financial relief, a means of transportation, and a boost toward active lives for those most in need. This policy will also pay for itself; as cultural shift toward healthy lifestyles is incited, preventative health implications will save taxpayers billions.

My second policy recommendation is a tax credit for pro-cycling businesses. Recently, Atlantic Cities published that one of the most discouraging factors keeping professionals from cycling to and from work is the lack of showering facilities available to them. In response, the government should be providing a tax credit to businesses that install showers for employee use.

The free market cannot solve the complex socio-economic issues that Canada faces. Our government needs to be both creative and concerned as we craft a just and prosperous economy. The suggestions I have put forth are effective ways to help Canada become a cycling-friendly country. I hope these ideas resonate with you and that you use your parliamentary prerogative to turn them into a reality for Canadians by amending Olivia Chow's BILL C-305 to include a national cycling strategy before supporting it in the house of Commons.

Sincerely,



D$$

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