Join an OVCATA municipal committee
Help make your municipality bike-friendly
OVCATA is forming local municipal committees to approach and work with local municipal councils. Our experience has been generally very positive working with municipalities and the County. It is extremely helpful if we can provide them with information they need to make decisions that will make our communities friendly to cyclists and all forms of active transportation.
With that in mind, we are forming committees of local people to approach their municipal councils to get them talking about active transportation and becoming bike-friendly communities. The Share the Road Cycling Coalition has had considerable success helping municipalities through their Bike Friendly Communities program.
Based on Share The Road's information, OVCATA is developing the following information for these committees to share with municipal councils.
Make your municipality a Bicycle-Friendly Community
There are many good reasons for municipalities of all kinds and sizes to become Bicycle Friendly Communities. Getting people out of cars and onto bikes promotes good health in the community while lowering greenhouse gas emissions and reducing pollution, traffic congestion, and road maintenance costs.
Becoming bike-friendly is also great a great way to boost local business. There is widespread and growing interest in cycle tourism, and cycle tourists have attractive demographics for business people. They take frequent day and overnight trips. In Quebec, spending by cycle tourists on La Route Verte is estimated at over $134 million annually, not including spending within the bicycle trade. In 2014, 124 cyclists were surveyed in the Niagara Region. They stated that on average, they spent $1,060 over a 3 day holiday and, on average $148 per person every day, excluding accommodation. Calculated within this figure is food and beverage accounting for 61% of spending, retail purchases including wineries 27%, and attractions 12%.
To help make more communities bike-friendly, the Share the Road Cycling Coalition in Canada launched the Bicycle Friendly Community Award (BFC) program. It provides incentives, hands-on assistance, and award recognition for communities that actively support bicycling. In Canada, the Canadian Automobile Association (South Central Ontario) is the major sponsor of the program, with additional support coming from Trek Canada.
So far, 30 Ontario communities* have been awarded either Gold, Silver or Bronze BFC status.
Achieving BFC status does not happen overnight. It took several years for the Lanark County municipality of Mississippi Mills to be awarded BFC status. Every journey begins with the a first step, or by rolling a first metre.
Communities are evaluated after completing a thorough application and are judged by how they respond to questions under five categories often referred to as the Five "Es":
ENGINEERING - Physical infrastructure and hardware to support cycling. Does your community have a comprehensive, connected and well-maintained bicycling network? Is bike parking available throughout the community? Is there a policy that mandates accommodation of cyclists on all road projects?
EDUCATION- Programs that ensure the safety, comfort and convenience of cyclists and fellow road users. Is there a community-wide Active and Safe Routes to School program that includes bicycling education? Are there bicycling education courses available for adults in the community? Does your community education motorists and cyclists on their rights and responsibilities as road users?
ENCOURAGEMENT - Incentives, promotions and opportunities that inspire people and enable them to ride. Does your community have an up-to-date bicycle map? Does the community celebrate bicycling with community rides, Bike to Work Day, or media outreach? Does the community host and major cycling events or rides? Is there an active bicycle advocacy group in the community?
ENFORCEMENT - Equitable laws and programs that ensure that cyclists and motorists are held accountable. Do law enforcement officers receive training on the rights and responsibilities of all road users? Does your community have law enforcement officers or other public safety officials on bikes? Do local bylaws treat cyclists equitably?
EVALUATION & PLANNING - Processes that demonstrate a commitment to measuring results and planning for the future. Is there a specific plan or program to reduce cyclist/motor vehicle crashes? Does your community have a current comprehensive bicycle plan? Is there a Bicycle Advisory Committee that meets regularly? Does your community have a bicycle program manager?
A community must demonstrate achievements in each of the five categories in order to be considered for an award. The BFC application is a great self-assessment tool, as communities see where they can improve in each of these categories.
*30 Communities in Ontario are Bicycle Friendly Communities
The Town of Blue Mountains
Burlington (Moved up from Bronze in 2016)
Mississippi Mills (New in 2016)
Niagara Falls (New in 2016)