Municipal Elections: Importance of developing a biking culture

Jean-François Rheault
October 13, 2021

Seven out of 10 Quebecers would like their municipality’s bike network to be improved and expanded.1 On the brink of the municipal elections, it is time to talk biking and remind elected officials and municipal employees of their role to promote the development of a biking culture among their citizens. Why?

Cycling has numerous benefits for Québec society. In fact, pedalling has a significant positive impact on the population’s physical and mental health, the environment and even the economy.

Pedalling is a simple solution to complex problems. It is a pastime, a physical activity, a sport – in other words an excellent way to improve citizens’ health, wellbeing and quality of life.

Pedalling is also an active, sustainable mode of transportation. The integration of biking into regional transportation helps promote mobility and reduce traffic congestion, and in turn, air pollution.

Pedalling also promotes the Quebec economy. According to Cycling in Québec in 2020, the biking market represents an estimated $565 million per year. Travelling by bike also helps boost personal disposable income. Obviously, it costs less to use a bicycle than a car. According to CAA-Québec, when the purchase of a bicycle averts the purchase of a vehicle, the funds that can then be reallocated to other expenditures represent an average of $11,000.

Growing number of cyclists

For the past twenty years, bicycle use has been on the rise. Whether for travelling, having fun, getting around or staying in shape, more than half of Quebecers bike!

Nearly 9 out of 10 children and adolescents bike in Quebec – a strong argument for providing our young cyclists with a safe environment. Moreover, almost 9 out of 10 Quebecers think that bike path development is an effective way to guarantee cyclists’ safety.1

For Vélo Québec, these numbers speak volumes.  The issue is not so much whether or not to invest in these cycling facilities, but rather how to develop them to better meet the needs of citizens and encourage them to travel by bike.

And how can municipalities encourage biking?

The municipalities can build a BICYCLE-FRIENDLY community and play a proactive role in creating an environment that is friendly for everyone. They have the power to develop safe facilities that meet the needs of cyclists of all ages, as well as an expanded, continuous bike path network.

They can focus on education and establish programs that ensure cyclists’ safety by promoting, for example, active school transportation, biking instruction or road sharing awareness.

They can encourage biking by participating in promotional campaigns, organizing public bike outings or offering self-serve bikes – simple and effective methods for encouraging citizens to get on their bikes and inspiring novices to integrate biking into their daily lives.

To all citizens, candidates, municipal counsellors and mayors: it is time to develop a strong biking culture in your municipality in order to promote public wellbeing. You can develop a modern living environment that highlights active mobility, physical activity and healthy lifestyles – increasingly important priorities for families and citizens.

Jean-François Rheault
President and CEO

1Source: Cycling in Québec in 2020