Mike Schreiner’s remarks to the Ontario Bike Summit

April 25, 2012

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Thanks for being here today.

I love speaking at the Ontario Bike Summit and Share the Road Events.

I want to thank all of you and especially Eleanor McMahon for your leadership in promoting safe streets and a bike friendly Ontario.

The Green Party of Ontario shares your long-term vision for how cycling plays an essential role in building a financially, socially and environmentally sustainable Ontario.

Ontario faces some significant challenges that require long-term, integrated solutions that a cycling strategy can help address.

Cycling can play a role in delivering solutions for the economic, health, and quality of life challenges we face.

Economic

Investing in Cycling in particular and active transportation in general creates jobs, saves money and enriches local economic development.

Right now 541,500 Ontarians are looking for work.

Toronto’s Board of Trade says gridlock is now the greatest threat to economic prosperity in the GTA.   Gridlock costs the GTA economy $6 billion per year.

Cycling is an important tool in addressing these economic challenges.

One mile on a bike is a $.42 economic gain to society, one mile driving is a $.20 loss.

Bicycling and walking projects create 11-14 jobs per $1 million spent, compared to just 7 jobs created per $1 million spent on highway projects

Most new jobs in Ontario are created by small businesses and cycling friendly communities benefit small businesses.

Studies show that cyclists are more likely to shop local and that parking spaces used by bikes generated 3.6 times more expenditures per customer for local business than spaces used by cars.

Bike tourism in Quebec generates $134 million a year..   Biking in Quebec creates 2,800 jobs and $17.2 Million in tax revenue.  Bike tourist spend $83/day compared to the average tourist that spends $66.

Cycling saves money: One bike trip vs. one car trip saves individuals and society $2.73 per mile.

Cycling takes cars off the road and along with public transit is an essential tool in reducing gridlock.

Support for cycling will benefit our economy and create jobs.

Health

We have a growing health care crisis in Ontario.

51.6% of our population is overweight.

28% of our children are obese.

In US, and the numbers are probably similar here:  Between 1966 and 2009, the number of children who bicycled or walked to school feel by 75%, while the percentage of obese children rose by 276%.

Health-related issues resulting from obesity costs the health system in Ontario: $2.2 to $2.5 billion per year.

Ontario Medical Association report concluded that air pollution causes 9,500
premature deaths a year in Ontario. The areas with the highest numbers of smog-related
deaths in Ontario are in areas with the most traffic congestion:

Toronto, with 2,130, Peel Region with 700, and York Region with 590.

42% of Ontario’s budget goes to health care, estimates are that this could rise to 80% if we don’t reduce costs.  

We have to shift our focus from a sick care system to one that prioritizes preventing illness.

In Ontario, we only spend .35% of our health budget on prevention.

BC spends $24 per person on health promotion, Quebec spends $16 and Ontario only spends $7.

This is crazy when we know that 79% of deaths in Ontario are from chronic disease.  The kind of illness that can be prevented or better managed with lifestyle changes that include healthier eating and more active lifestyles.

Cycling is an essential tool in addressing these costs.

Studies show that 1 mile cycling per individual provides $0.19 in Health Benefits.

Copenhagen saves $357 million a year on health costs because almost 80 percent of its population bikes regularly.  This is a savings of $300 per person per year.

Quality of Life

No one is fighting for a life where we are forced to spend up to 3 hours a day commuting.    Commuting takes time away from family, friends and community.  Yet, that is the reality more and more people in the GTA face everyday.

It’s a shame that the GTA has some of the worst commuting times in North America.

This reality is hurting our quality of life, taking time away from family and friends, reducing volunteering time and community cohesion, hurting local business and degrading our environment.  

Transportation is one of the largest single sources of greenhouse gas emission, at 26%. Emissions in the Transportation sector rose by about 48.8 Mt, or 32.8% from 1990 to 2005.

We can reduce pollution and GHG emissions, improve our quality of life and communities by planning for communities where people can live, work and play; where cycling and pedestrian infrastructure are valued.

People want to live in such communities and are willing to pay a bit more for a higher quality of life.  In one study, homes sold for 11% more when there was bike infrastructure nearby.

The Time for Action is Now

We know that 58% of Ontarians want to cycle more.

What’s the hardest part of riding a bike?

The Pavement.  

The biggest barrier to more people cycling is concerns over safety.  That’s right, the pavement is hard and we have to make cycling safer to enjoy all the benefits bikes offer.

The Green Party will continue to work with you to lead the effort for cycling strategy in Ontario.  We will work with other parties to make it happen.

The Green Party supports PC Norm Miller’s private members bill to require paved shoulders on our rural roads.
The Green Party supports NDP Cheri DiNova’s private members bill for a 1 metre passing law.
I encourage you to visit www.gpo.ca to sign our petition for mandatory side guards on trucks.

These efforts are important step in the right direction.
But piece meal legislation will not get us where we need to be.

We need a comprehensive Ontario Bike Strategy and we need it now.

Quebec had a policy in 1995.  It’s time for Ontario to catch up.

An Ontario Bike Strategy creates an essential framework for action.

I want to briefly outline some key elements of such a strategy.

1.     Infrastructure funding

We need infrastructure to support cycling if we are serious about making our streets and roads safe.  Quebec spends $200 million on cycling infrastructure.  The US dedicates 1.6% of its transportation budget for states to cycling.

The GPO is calling for a 1% percent solution.  We are calling on the government to dedicate 1% of the transportation budget for investments in cycling infrastructure and 1% for pedestrian.

This would be a fund for municipalities to access the dollars they need for safe streets and roads.

We need a bike strategy in place so provincial planners work with municipalities are simple solutions like contiguous bike lanes over provincial controlled overpasses.

And we especially need infrastructure in place to provide safe cycling for kids to school.

2.     Education

We need stable funding and support for the CanBike program.

We need safe cycling education as part of the school curriculum.

And respect for cyclists lives should be part of the driver’s test.

3.     Policy and Legislation

We need a Complete Streets Act in Ontario to ensure that our streets are safe for all users: cars, trucks, bikes, pedestrians, wheeled mobility devices, and transit users.

We need to change the Highway Traffic Act for laws such as:
    1 metre passing rule
    legalize 2 way bike traffic on 1 way streets
    implementation of safe cycling zones
    Among others

We need to revise the Planning Act to ensure that Active Transportation is a required component of municipal growth plans.

I want to thank you for your advocacy to strengthen our communities and our local economies with good cycling policy.  The Green Party will continue to work with you on pushing for an Ontario Bike Strategy.

Cycling is an important tool in tackling our economic, health and quality of life challenges.  The Green Party appreciates and shares your vision for how cycling can address these challenges to build a financially, socially and environmentally sustainable Ontario.  Thank you.