Building a Bike Friendly Community

Ontario Bike Summit Lambton with MPP’s Norm Miller (Parry Sound-Muskoka), Mark Cosens (Elgin-St.Thomas) and Btob Bailey Photo by Simon Wilson
Ontario Bike Summit Lambton with MPP’s Norm Miller (Parry Sound-Muskoka), Mark Cosens (Elgin-St.Thomas) and Btob Bailey Photo by Simon Wilson

Since the invention of the modern bicycle in the early 1800’s, the bike is arguably the perfect mode of local transportation. From the personal health benefits derived to the environmental aspects, cycling is indeed the way to go. But, as near perfect as this vehicle is, we live in a car-centric community, and rider safety is of vital concern.

Green Drinks invited Anita Trusler to lead the discussion on building a bike friendly community.

Anita is a Supervisor of Health Promotion at Lambton Public Health and a community advocate dedicated to increasing access to sport, recreation, physical activity and health. Anita’s work includes the Bike Friendly Lambton Initiative, Sarnia-Lambton Access to Recreation Project, Share the Road Provincial Collaboration and Sports Day in Canada Multicultural Awareness. Anita is a past member of Bluewater Trails committee and serves as a member of Share the Road Bike Friendly Communities Judging Panel.

In 2012, Sarnia-Lambton hosted a community bike summit in an effort to start a conversation with municipal policy makers, elected officials, planners, and engineers about Bike Friendly Communities. Local cyclists provided significant input into the development of a planned cycle network that was integrated into the Master Transportation Plan for the City of Sarnia. In 2014, the city received a honourable mention from the provincial Bike Friendly Communities program.

Yes, we have made some substantial steps forward in making Sarnia a bicycle friendly place, but there is still much to do. Our cycling community of late, has been devastated by serious cyclist-motorist collisions of which two ended in fatalities.
We must advocate for dedicated bike lanes and increased awareness and bike safety education to motorists, pedestrians and cyclists alike. As a community, we are seeing increasing numbers of cyclists on our roads and more opportunities to participate in larger cycling events.

Cycle tourism is a booming business worldwide and our trail and tourism partners are seeking ways and means to come along for the ride. One such innovation is the “Bike Friendly Business” designation, a program where businesses that meet certain criteria will be listed as such on the Lambton County Regional Trails Bike Friendly Business web page and provided with a “Bike Friendly” sticker for their front door.

Green Drinks is a monthly informal gathering to socialize, network and learn about sustainability issues and initiatives that affect your environmental, social and economic life presented with a fun, respectful and light vibe. And as always, Green Drinks is open to everyone, agenda free, and free to attend.

by Dave Watson

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