In 2022, bicycles are more popular than ever. In the current context, they are positioned as a simple solution to complex problems such as climate change or inflation, and they contribute to improving the health of Quebecers. This is why cycling must have a greater place in the various government policies. It is in this context that Vélo Québec presents its priorities to the political parties.
These requests are based on three main themes: investments supporting the development of bicycle facilities, road safety and the promotion of the use of bicycles for active transportation or leisure purposes. More than just themes, these three topics are the pillars of the advancement of cycling in Quebec society.
In the context of the upcoming elections, these themes are part of a larger set of societal choices that Quebecers must make: to fight inflation and the ecological crisis head-on, or to accept the status quo. We believe that we must act now, or we will find ourselves decades behind when these already glaring issues become undeniable.
One way to do this is to increase the amount of money invested in municipal funding programs for active transportation infrastructure. A minimum of $100 million per year, instead of the $41 to $48 million currently invested, would allow municipalities to catch up on the development of walking and cycling infrastructure, in addition to building complete streets.
Complete streets? A complete street is designed and built to be safe, convenient and enjoyable for all users, regardless of their mode of transportation, physical condition or age.
It is necessary that the Ministère des Transports du Québec (MTQ) respect this principle in all its projects within urban perimeters, particularly in the heart of villages. These nerve centers of many Quebec municipalities must be designed with all their users in mind, rather than being developed with a focus on the flow of automobile traffic through them.
Financing and developing the road network so that the needs of cyclists are systematically integrated into it will help develop the practice of cycling among those who do not feel safe enough to use their bicycles at the moment. To go further and encourage more Quebecers to get on the bike, we will have to support this increase with substantial financial incentives for the purchase of bicycles and e-bikes, as has been done in Prince Edward Island, the Yukon and France. The versatility of e-bikes makes it an important tool for promoting active transportation; whether it is used for utility, work or leisure purposes, this type of bicycle offers a real alternative to the solo car and a credible option for practicing sustainable transportation on a larger scale.
THE IMPORTANCE OF ACTING NOW
Acting on these points means acting for the present and for the future. It means accepting the major issues of our time and facing them with courage and ambition. It means thinking about our planet, our health, our quality of life, and what we will leave to future generations.
While the development of new road links dominates the debate, Vélo Québec wishes to refocus the conversation on sustainable solutions that take into account the needs of all road users.
President and CEO, Vélo Québec
*This open letter was initially published in La Presse on Monday September 12.