Background

The Opportunity

Ontario has tremendous potential -- and capacity -- to lead the cycling movement in Canada, to become a Bike-Friendly province. Opinion polling conducted by Share the Road Cycling Coalition demonstrates strong public support for bike-friendly initiatives and strong support for local initiatives to support active transportation. In fact, 2014 polling done by Share the Road showed that 68% of Ontario Residents support government investments in cycling infrastructure. Broad support for a wide variety of supportive measures for cycling was found, and you can view the full results of this polling here

Municipalities have tremendous potential to make their communities more walkable and bikeable by building infrastructure to make walking and cycling safer and more comfortable, developing programs to educate and encourage their residents to walk

But it will require more active and coordinated efforts by cycling advocates to concentrate public opinion and generate the political will required for bigger changes. The changing context provides an opportunity to change the conversation about cycling in Ontario and to build a broader consensus on the benefits of Bike-Friendly initiatives.

The Active Communities Pledge Campaign

Candidatesin the October 27th Municipal election and Ontario voters are invited to sign the Pledge, which commits the signer to promote active transportation, actively lobby to access the newly announced municipal cycling infrastructure funding, and support their community in either applying for or advancing their designation as a Bicycle Friendly Community

We aim to collect as many candidate signatures as possible and post an updated list of all candidates who sign the Pledge so that supporters of Active Transportation will know where their candidates stand.

The Active Communities Pledge is non-partisan. It does not support or oppose any individual candidate. It aims to educate individual candidates, consolidate support for a Bicycle Friendly agenda and share the results with voters and the public.

Campaign Goals:

What you can do

  1. Take the Active Communities Pledge! That is a small but powerful first step.
  2. Share the Pledge with your family and friends. Let them know you have signed the Pledge, and ask them to sign too! When you sign the Pledge, you have the opportunity to share the activecommunitiespledge.ca link by email, as well as Facebook and Twitter.
  3. Ask your municipal candidates to sign the pledge in person at all-candidates’ meetings, at their office, or by emailing them. We've put together a template for a short, personal email here to make this vital step even easier. For tips on how to find candidates in your community, check out the Take Action section of this website.
  4. Spread the word by sending out a Press Release to local media about the Pledge Campaign and its aims – we have tools to help you at activecommunitiespledge.ca

FAQ

What is the Active Communities Pledge about?

Cycling and other forms of Active Transportation contribute to healthy communities in many different ways. They produce individual health benefits, reduce traffic congestion and improve the environment, and encourage economic development through cycling tourism. Our campaign is focused on promoting the benefits of cycling and turning public support into practical steps to build cycling infrastructure (paved shoulders, bike paths, and cycling routes) in every community across the province.

How does the ACP Campaign actually work?

Based on consultation with cycling advocates across Ontario, Share the Road has drafted the Active Communities Pledge, which asks Municipal candidates to endorse active transportation, support infrastructure projects that make cycling more comfortable and accessible, support legislative changes that make roads safer for all road users and support having their municipality designated a Bicycle Friendly Community.

Advocates across Ontario are approaching municipal candidates, asking them to sign the Pledge and posting the results up until the October 27th election, so that pro-cycling voters will know where their municipal candidates stand on these issues. We are also inviting all residents of Ontario – voters and non-voters –to sign the Pledge

Isn’t the creation of infrastructure and programs for cycling costly? Isn’t this a case of just one more demand for more spending in a period of fiscal restraint?

There are a couple of key points to make about funding to both build cycling infrastructure and promote cycling.

First of all, it’s not that expensive. A tremendous amount of cycling infrastructure – bike lanes, paths, routes and signage – can be built for a fraction of the cost of building and maintaining automobile infrastructure.

Second, expanded cycling infrastructure generates a whole range of direct and indirect economic benefits, ranging from local and regional tourism to improved worker productivity – from higher local retail spend to lower health care costs. In fact, it’s been shown that for every dollar invested in cycling infrastructure, the payback to the economy is between 4 and 5 dollars - an impressive return on investment by any standard!

But only a small proportion of people are really active or committed cyclist. Isn’t your campaign asking for taxpayers money that will ultimately only serve a small minority?

Our research shows that a much higher proportion of Ontarians would cycle to work or for everyday errands like shopping, if they could do so in a safe and convenient way. In our 2014 polling, we found that 54% of Ontarians want to ride their bikes more often – a significant amount of pent-up demand! Creating more robust cycling infrastructure will increase the percentage of individuals who choose cycling over driving or using public transit.

But even if individuals never get on a bike themselves they will still benefit from increased cycling – it reduces car congestion, improves air quality, promotes healthy lifestyles, reduces the burden on the health care system, improves the local economy and creates more liveable communities for everyone. Sharing the road works equally well for cyclists and drivers.

What do you hope to accomplish through the Active Communities Pledge?

Through the ACP campaign we hope to contribute to greater public awareness and change the conversation about active transportation (cycling and walking) from why to how.

By focusing on political candidates we are aiming to educate future municipal representatives. After October 27th we expect to see hundreds of pro-cycling champions sitting in all municipalities and school boards across Ontario.

Finally, through the Pledge we are working to mobilize cycling advocates to build broad public support for making Ontario a leading Bike Friendly jurisdiction in Canada

 

The Context

Throughout North America, the cycling movement has tremendous momentum. Cities and regions in both countries have undertaken major initiatives to develop cycling infrastructure which has yielded multiple benefits including stronger local economies, better talent retention, increased tourism revenues, healthier citizens and reduced costs due to automotive transportation. Investing in programs and projects that get residents cycling and walking makes good economic sense - studies have shown that every dollar invested in active transportation has a net benefit of $4-5 to the community. Local governments have also seen the benefits, with the City of Waterloo calculating that a 1% shift in mode share from cars to active transportation saving them an estimated $30 Million in road costs from 2013-2033.