1) What are your views on cycling in Windsor?
It is my personal belief that not enough is being done, not just for cycling, but for creating a healthier more active city in general. Portions of my platform call for the creation and implementation of a ‘Green Jobs Policy’ and a ‘Let’s Help Windsor Grow’ Municipal Food Plan. These are to help lead our city in a direction that shows green technology research, development and manufacturing companies that Windsor embraces the culture their products promote, which includes healthy, active living. Cycling is a major part of that lifestyle. We need to stop committing to things half-heartedly. It is this type of behaviour that is wasting tax dollars on projects that are not being completed or implemented properly. The Bicycle Use Master Plan (BUMP)calls for an absolute minimum of $200,000 spent annually on cycling infrastructure in the city and that is what they are contributing. We must stop the practice of just meeting bare minimum requirements and become serious about investing in creating an active and healthy city. We need to stop the mentality of just throwing money at projects for the sake of saying the money was spent. The bike lanes on Quality Way are a perfect example of this. They are in the middle of an industrial park alongside E.C. Row Expressway and have no real use. A plan must be put into place to prioritizing which areas are in need of cycling infrastructure ahead of others to reduce conflicts on the roads between bikes and cars.
2) Do you own a bike? How often do you ride it?
I own multiple bikes and use each often. On average, I manage to get out and about 3-4 days per week. While I ride my bike recreationally a majority of the time, I do try to travel by bike as often as possible to some of my business meetings and also when going shorter distances.
In addition to riding, I also am on the Via Italia Bike Race Associationwhich organizes the annual Tour di Via Italia bike races on Erie Street.
3) Recent research shows that 65% of Windsorites have ridden a bike in the last year. What do you think can be done to get more windsorites cycling more often?
First, something I am proud of doing through my business WindsorEats to get more Windsorites cycling is creating our Wine Trail Rides. These rides are cycling tours to our local wineries throughout Essex County. What they have been successful in doing is getting your average person interested and excited about dusting the cobwebs off and reconnecting with their bikes. Also, for over a year I have also worked closely with Bike Train, a non-profit organization that promotes cycling, and played a key role in securing a pilot program of two Via Rail trains filled with tourists visiting the region solely on their bikes. These types of initiatives play a major part in enticing local cyclists to rediscover their own bikes and encouraging our regions local governments to invest in cycling infrastructure.
One issue that is frequently given by individuals regarding why they do not cycle more often is safety. People do not feel safe cycling on Windsor’s roads and with the current infrastructure put in place for cyclists. Creating safe cycling arterials which are all interconnected to provide safe access to any location within Windsor by bike are needed.
Implementing a system based on Montreal’s Bixi program is another idea which can help increase ridership within Windsor. In short, Bixi is a bike rental/sharing program with various stations throughout the city to pick up or drop off your rented bike. Individuals are also able to become monthly or yearly subscribers. Here is an explanation about Bixi from their site:
BIXI is Montréal’s new public bike system. It’s the bike that’s really an alternative means of urban transport. Accessible to everyone, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, three seasons of the year, from May to November.
Take one when you need one, and leave it any station when you arrive at your destination. For a trip on the fly or as part of your daily routine – go BIXI!
It is a simple way to provide easy, inexpensive access to locations throughout the city while providing jobs (maintenance, distribution of bikes, etc.). To start, these rental locations can be placed at the Walkerville Train Station, Downtown Windsor, the University of Windsor, Devonshire Mall and St. Clair Colleges main and downtown campuses and link each location to each other with proper cycling lanes. From a municipal government standpoint, revenue can also be generated by selling advertising at each bike station.
4) What do you think needs to be done to make Windsor more bicycle friendly?
As I mentioned above, safety is a major reason more cyclist’s are not riding in Windsor. Part of that problem from a cyclists perspective is that they feel automobile drivers are not fully aware of the right of bikes to be on the road and also not aware of the space allotted to cyclists in the bike lanes. I myself have been subject to being nudged off my bike while riding in a cycling lane. One way to help increase the visibility of bike lanes on our roads is making them stand out to drivers and cyclists alike by having them a different colour than the rest of the road. By differentiating the bike lanes with solid colour like blue, rather than with only a solid white line, it has been proven that you can help reduce conflicts between motor vehicles and bicycles.
Other major cities across the world are contemplating implementing coloured bike lanes and some, like Portland, already have. Spacing Toronto had coloured bike lanes as an ‘Election Idea’ for this upcoming election. Biking Toronto has also has written an article on this topic. I encourage you to read both the articles here:
5) What are your views on enforcing cycling laws in Windsor?
Bicycles are obliged to follow the same rules of the road as motor vehicles. When these laws are broken, just as in the case if they are broken with a car, they need to be enforced. While some believe that riding on a sidewalk is safer, statistics have consistently shown otherwise. Drivers cannot properly see cyclists on sidewalks and legally, if an accident occurs, the cyclist will be held at fault. Public education of cycling laws also needs to be increased to make everyone aware of what the rules of the road are for bicycles.
6) Are you willing to make a commitment to bike to at least 4 city council meetings per year, to lead by example?
Of course! I am even willing to take that commitment one step further and sign a Bike Friendly Windsor ‘contract’ doubling my arrival at council meetings by bike to 8 meetings per year.