Biking in the Québec budget

Suzanne Lareau
March 3, 2020

In less than two weeks, Québec’s finance minister will deliver his budget speech. How will the environmental message of Quebecers be heard? How will this budget help transform good intentions into concrete actions? We are definitely not the only ones asking these questions.

As in the past few years, we took advantage of the consultations preceding this budget to remind the government of the importance of aligning all government policies, in order to give measures promoting active mobility greater impact. We also highlighted the importance of significantly boosting investments supporting active mobility. In 2020, Québec’s five largest cities will invest nearly $30 million in cycling infrastructures, while the Québec government will inject only about $20 million.

In a speech made last fall at the convention of the Association des réseaux cyclables du Québec (ARCQ), Transport Minister François Bonnardel expressed his hope that Québec would become the “Copenhagen of Canada”. But for this hope to become a reality, the funds promised to the municipalities in 2018 must be released. In addition, investments must definitely be increased. Considering the number of countries and governments that have made the shift toward biking, and given the price of infrastructures that help break down certain urban barriers (highways, railroads, waterways, etc.), we have been saying for the past three years that the government must be prepared to invest approximately $100 million annually – at least for a few years, in order to make active mobility an integral part of Québec cities.

Lastly, to develop the full potential of both regular and electric bikes, the parameters of existing incentive programs must be revised and new ones introduced. For example, the $500 financial aid component of the Roulez vert program (currently for e-scooters) should be extended to bikes and e-bikes. Also, the Transportez vert program should include a bike cargo and e-bike cargo component to promote the transportation of small parcels in our city centers.

In the wake of the Sustainable Mobility Policy, we are also proposing the implementation of a tax-free kilometric allowance program for work-related bike travel. In European countries where such programs exist, notably Belgium (1997) and France (2016), this low-cost measure definitely helps promote active mobility. Other types of tax deductions also exist in the Netherlands and Austria. If we want to promote biking, let’s follow the lead of those who do it best!

In the context of the recent Climate Emergency Declaration, the Québec government must take advantage of the next budget to actively promote concrete, practical measures aimed at social change.

Suzanne Lareau
President and CEO