1) What are your views on cycling in Windsor?
I believe cycling and public transit are critical elements Windsor’s evolution to a more liveable environment. As a candidate for Ward Four, I am committed to working with the committee to ensure this evolution continues.
2) Do you own a bike? How often do you ride it?
I do own a bike. I ride it about once a week. I live close to work, so I often walk. My bicycling is increasing however due to the fact that I’m in the process of teaching my three young boys to ride. Once they are old enough, I foresee many family bike rides through South Walkerville. I will also encourage them to ride their bikes to school.
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?
I believe there are a few well established impediments to increased use of bicycles as transportation. First is the perception of lack of safety. Also, a cohesive network of bicycling lanes is not presently available. Further, the way in which our city has been developed, and the trend to spread out to the fringe rather than re-invent the core areas of the city.
To address these issues our elected officials must commit to a plan and provide stable support for it. There should be a public awareness campaign; perhaps in conjunction with the local public health unit. We should also seek to coordinate with local school boards to reach out to our youth. If we can establish consistent promotion of cycling with our young people, I believe that will carry over into their adult lives. Without the infrastructure for cycling as a means of transportation, as opposed to just recreation, we will fail in making this transition.
With respect to development and planning, I believe it is imperative that we find ways to incentivize urban renewal. If people can find what they need close to home, they will be less likely to gas up the car and drive out to the fringe to patronize the big box stores.
The health and environmental benefits of cycling are undeniable. I also believe there are community and social benefits to the promotion of cycling as a means of transportation. For these reasons, I pledge to support the efforts of your group in your endeavour to increase the use of bikes in our city. I think Bike Friendly Windsor should be commended for taking up this cause and ensuring this discussion is part of the public discourse.
4) What do you think needs to be done to make Windsor more bicycle friendly?
Much of my response to the previous question can be applied to this one. I would like to add that teaching drivers to share the road should be part of the process for getting a driver’s license in this province. Perhaps networking with similar groups in other municipalities and lobbying the Ministry of Transportation for some modifications to the licensing process could be helpful. Additionally, a stable and continuous effort to expand bicycle lanes in a sensible network throughout the city must be implemented and committed to. I also believe it’s important to ensure we elect councillors that understand and are willing to be a part of the solution.
5) What are your views on enforcing cycling laws in Windsor?
I would like to see a day when it makes sense to treat bikes as they are defined under the Highway Traffic Act. At this point I don’t think that is feasible. I believe that until we address the impediments to riders sense of safety on the roads, strict enforcement will only discourage expansion of the use of bikes.
6) Are you willing to make a commitment to bike to at least 4 city council meetings per year, to lead by example?
I am absolutely willing to commit to riding to four meetings a year. I am further willing to pledge that each time a cycling issue is on the agenda, I will bike to that meeting also. Will you commit to riding with me?
While watching a recent meeting of council, at which cycling supporters were questioning the City’s commitment to stable funding for bike lanes, I was dismayed by some Councillors lack of understanding of this issue. In particular, Councillor Valentinis’ remarks that somehow spending money on trails in parks should be considered part of our City’s investment in cycling. While technically accurate, this position fails to address the difference between cycling for recreation versus transportation. I certainly encourage cycling as a means of recreation, but I think that it is imperative that we encourage the transportation aspect. Only this approach will reduce traffic and the lower the environmental impact of emissions from motor vehicles. I believe this is a very important distinction.