Make your municipality a Bicycle-Friendly Community

An invitation from the Ottawa Valley Cycling and Active Transportation Alliance

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, for example, spending by cycle tourists on La Route Verte is estimated at over $134 million annually, not including spending within the bicycle trade. Another example: 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%.
 o 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 addition, your municipality may be eligible for funding for the creation of commuter cycling networks under Ontarios Climate Change Action Plan.

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 E's (see next page):

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 educate 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
: Toronto, Ottawa

Silver: The Town of Blue Mountains, Burlington, Guelph, Hamilton, Kitchener, Pelham, Peterborough, Waterloo

Bronze: Ajax, Grimsby, Halton Hills, London, Kingston, Markham, Milton, Mississauga, Mississippi Mills (New in 2016), Newmarket, Niagara Falls (New in 2016), Oakville, Oshawa, Richmond Hill, St. Catharine's, Thorold, Thunder Bay, Wasaga Beach, Welland, Windsor

In the next few months, members of the Ottawa Valley Cycling and Active Transportation Alliance will be contacting municipalities in Renfrew County to discuss how they can make their communities Bicycle-Friendly. For information, please email