Viewpoint : October 2017

Sustainable mobility in Québec: Time for action!

Over the past few months, there has been much talk about the electrification of transportation – especially cars! Fortunately, in early summer, the Minister of Transport, Sustainable Mobility and Transport Electrification, Laurent Lessard, invited an impressive number of organizations, including Vélo Québec, to take part in consultations on the Government policy on sustainable mobility.

We pointed out that urban development favouring private cars is a costly model that our society can no longer afford, emphasizing that biking and active transportation must be recognized in this policy and that transportation systems must be equitably financed. We also stressed the importance of reviewing the budget allocations currently made for single cars to the detriment of public transit and active transportation, as well as setting ambitious investment targets for boosting the share of active transportation in daily mobility.
The current annual $5 million envelope provided by the Transport Ministry is not sufficient to support municipalities making the transition toward active transportation. In 2017, Québec’s five largest cities alone have invested over $30 million to develop cycling infrastructures. Montréal is leading the way with its recently announced Cycling Master Plan, under which it will double its annual investments to $30 million over the next five years - an historic threshold.

Elsewhere in the world, active transportation is taken very seriously and therefore generously funded. Paris alone announced an investment of $150 million euros over five years in 2015 – and the city is transforming, whereas in London, 770 million pounds sterling were earmarked for a similar period in 2016. Here, biking is considered cool and fun, but the level of funding it receives is a far cry from that for any other decent transportation infrastructure. Until just recently the forerunner in Canada, Québec is now starting to be outpaced by its neighbour Ontario, which, in 2017 alone, invested $50 million in cycling infrastructures in partnership with its municipalities.
During the consultations on the Government policy on sustainable mobility, we proposed setting an annual target of $100 million in cycling infrastructures for the next three years. This target could be achieved jointly with the municipal sector or any other partner, including the federal government, from which Québec has not yet demanded its due. This would send a clear signal, in addition to generating significant gains for active and sustainable mobility.

Suzanne Lareau
President and CEO