The River City Cycle Club (RCCC) has been advocating for years for improvements to the city’s cycling infrastructure.
So with a municipal by-election coming up, they took the opportunity to pose a couple of questions to the candidates to see where they stand – or rather ride – on what they see are the issues in the community in regards to active transportation.
“We’re just trying to amplify the conversation around cycling and cycling infrastructure,” says John Elson with the RCCC’s Cycling Advocacy Committee. “It’s the local government that is closest to these issues and we didn’t want it to be overlooked in the election, so we thought we’d give the candidates an opportunity to speak on the matter and give voters the chance to hear what they had to say.”
“The city has some ambitious targets for lowering greenhouse emissions, and you can only do that, really, with transportation policies,” Elson says. “We need to get people out of their cars and walking, cycling and taking transit,” so the first question the group posed to the candidates was “What role do you see cycling and other forms of active transportation playing in Campbell River’s future?”
Ken Blackburn says he thinks active transportation should be a priority for all communities.
“The investigation into alternative forms of transportation, including restricting car access in downtowns, mobilizing more flexible public transit and encouraging biking/walking are all top agenda items if we want to begin the evolution of our cities away from car obsession,” Blackburn says, adding that the development of active transportation strategies “strike right at the core of community health.”
“Not only is personal health improved through being active, but environmental, social and economic health are all supported,” Blackburn says. “All age groups are impacted. It is essential to consider active transportation as a key aspect of infrastructure and strategic planning. Campbell River has an opportunity to become a leader in creative thinking around making our community more livable and fostering a high quality-of-life.”
Doug Chapman agrees that active transportation will play an “important role in the future,” but came at it with more of an economic perspective.
“Let’s face it, fuel prices will continue to increase making our traditional vehicles expensive to operate,” Chapman says. “If we are serious about not only the sport of cycling, but the reduction of greenhouse gasses, one of the best ways to reduce our pollution is cycling. Granted, electric vehicles are becoming more popular however, they are expensive and out of reach to a lot of people – including me. As a result, I can see where cycling will not be only for recreation but a necessity as well.”
Kealy Donaldson says there’s never been a better time to look at implementing changes that make the community more friendly to active transportation.
With the city’s OCP under review and major capital projects coming down the pipe, Donaldson says, “now is the time to be building a better tomorrow for Campbell River. Consultation is key in this process and there will be change and upgrades coming for Campbell River’s OCP. Now is the time to be using your voices. With this by-election, it’s just a snapshot of what is to come in 18 months when Campbell River heads into a full municipal election.”
Devon Garat says he thinks “most people want two things for the future of transportation: affordability and sustainability. So bikes do fit both of those categories,” adding that while he doesn’t consider himself an avid cyclist, he does ride his bike to work or for general transportation when the weather is nice.
Stephen Jewell says he would love to see more people cycling and have it have more of a future here.
“We all have bicycles in my family and love to cycle Beaver Lodge Lands,” he says.
Wes Roed calls himself “a former avid mountain biker (and a little on pavement),” so he knows a thing or two about the needs of the biking community.
“First, as a society, we must make a concerted effort to reduce greenhouse emissions,” Roed says. “Cycling and other forms of Active Transportation fit perfectly into that mindset and I believe there is an opportunity to explore ideas in Campbell River to enhance these alternative methods. Other communities and even larger centres like Vancouver and Victoria have already worked bike lanes into their street and road management, and I see no reason for us not to explore the same.
“Secondly,” he continues, “we all need to be healthier. Cycling and other methods are a great form of exercise and allows participants to enjoy the added benefit of getting from point A to point B, while taking in the outdoor beauty Campbell River provides.”
Laurel Slikovic says she thinks active transportation “can and will play a larger role in Campbell River for both residents and visitors to our amazing community.”
“From increased social connectivity to improved physical health, and from reducing carbon emissions to lowering mental stress, the positive impacts of increasing access and promoting cycling and other forms of active transportation are well documented,” Sliskovic says. “As a team member in the recent revitalization in the Greenways Loop, and a researcher and facilitator of sustainable leisure initiatives, I can and will bring my experience, education, and enthusiasm to City Council and keep Active Transportation moving in this community.”
Sean Smyth is also a huge fan of cycling and has been seeing enthusiasm for it grow in the community.
“My kids, my wife and I are cycling enthusiasts,” he says. “We were among the first to participate in Bike to Work/School Week when it came to Campbell River. I was known as the dad who would bike to daycare daily, with the kids in a bike trailer, regardless of the weather. I am incredibly proud to say both my kids were riding a pedal bike (without training wheels) before they were even out of diapers.”
Smyth says he’s seeing more and more people using active transportation over the years, and he couldn’t be happier about it.
“Cycling, in particular, has been increasing in popularity in Campbell River,” he says. “Bike stores have been busier than ever. Vancouver Island is known as a cycling destination. Bicycle touring with electric cycles has become an incredibly fast-growing industry which is encouraging even more people to bicycle. More and more people are using bicycles not only leisurely, but as a form of transportation.”
Watch for the second question from the RCCC – regarding the candidates’ throughts on installing separated bike lanes – in next week’s paper and online at campbellrivermirror.com