SUE SAUVE – Perhaps it is no accident that bicycles were designed to only pedal forward. They are bringing us to the future we are trying to create.
Bicycles are a pillar of health for urban dwellers and a cornerstone of sustainability. The City of Peterborough’s new Cycling Master Plan lays the groundwork to support growth in cycling to where we want to go – a healthy community, living sustainably.
The Plan proposes to grow cycling by four times our current rate in the next twenty years. The project consultant looked at success stories from cities similar to Peterborough, medium-sized cities with four seasons, including a snowy winter. We found that weather was less of a predictor of how many people took to their bicycles than the infrastructure and culture that supports cycling.
Next, together with people who cycle extensively, we worked and reworked the plans for cycling network growth. We also put interactive maps on-line so anyone could highlight problem areas or opportunities. (Though I retired in May 2022, this project was under my purview, so I use ‘we’ sometimes when describing this project.)
Our Peterborough community has voiced time and again the value of our greenspaces and multi-use trails. The Cycling Master Plan identifies how to expand and improve the trail network and how to build cycling facilities along roads that are safe and enjoyable for all ages and abilities.
On a busy road, physical separation from vehicles is most desired, so that is the planned standard. As an interim measure, you will still see bike lanes installed − an inexpensive, effective way measure until a full road reconstruction takes place. Protected cycling infrastructure is usually provided when a road is reconstructed because it involves changing fundamentals, like curbs location.
Master Plan strategies to navigate the shift to more cycling.
- We will be in schools and in the community delivering programs like Active School Travel and Shifting Gears.
- We’ll watch trends, such as e-bikes, and how innovations in bicycles themselves can make cycling accessible to more people – like Pedal-assist bicycles make it easier to be a hill dweller and still enjoy cycling. The cyclist still relies on pedalling, so you get your physical activity, but they erase the tough climbs with the battery taking over for you. So you get the pleasure of cycling and the ease of access, no matter the incline.
There is much talk about electric vehicles, and e-bikes are the most efficient of the lot, and not too expensive either! Pedal-assist bicycles allow commuters to travel further as well. There is a reason why these bikes have 40% of the market share in much of Europe.
- Key routes were identified and placed on the Crosstown Network. It provides the essential linkages to get around the city efficiently and safely. These routes, which include some existing infrastructure that needs upgrading, will be prioritized for implementation.
In Oulu, Finland, snow plow drivers who plow cycling routes get on bicycles and ride the routes that they plow every month. They experience first-hand cyclists’ inconvenience with a windrow of snow at an intersection. They learn that leaving icy patches isn’t comic.
What does the growth of cycling have to do with you if cycling is not for you?
Well, it could mean that you experience less traffic congestion; a better chance of finding a parking space or a seat on the bus. Not everyone can or will ride a bicycle, but we can all support people who are willing to give the pedals a spin.
Community support is a valuable contribution to growing cycling in our community. The benefits will accrue to all of us. Peterborough’s new Cycling Master Plan has a bold and well researched vision for how to grow cycling in our community. Let’s hope that the 2024 City budget gets it rolling!
Susan Sauve worked in the Transportation Division for the City of Peterborough from 2004
to 2022. Her position focused on reducing vehicle use, including projects to increase the viability of walking, cycling, carpooling and transit. Most recently, Sue led the development of the Cycling Master Plan. Sue continues to contribute to sustainability by being Chair of the Peterborough Bicycle Advisory Committee (PBAC).