Canada's NDP Leader Calls for National Cycling Strategy

CC BY 2.0. Jagmeet Singh at the 2nd National Bike Summit/ Yvonne Bambrick in Wikipedia

Actually, this is something every country needs.

The guy in the photo without a plastic helmet is Jagmeet Singh, leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada (NDP), who has just announced that Canada needs a national cycling strategy. As we have noted before, he is serious about bikes as transportation and takes his Brompton where ever he goes. According to the Globe and Mail,

Singh says investing in transit and cycling infrastructure is not only helpful to reduce the amount of time Canadians spend stuck in traffic, it's also better for the environment. "We're determined to make it easier and safer to ride," Singh tweeted before embarking on the four-kilometre bike from an Ottawa bike store to the Parliamentary district.

One should never read comments in the Globe and Mail, especially when discussing the Liberal Prime Minister or the NDP. They will dismiss both with lines like, "Well done, Jagmeet. With this bit of lunacy you are just giving our snow board instructor another term."
Now as one who likes both bikes and snowboards, I have trouble these days deciding who I like more between the two fit, active young men who don't see the world through the window of a pickup truck or SUV. That windshield view seems to be the real cultural divide in this country, as it often seems to be in the USA.

Almost all the comments are dismissive, including, "Can't wait for the new national cycling strategy, I was just thinking about riding my bike coast to coast." Actually, the commenter should try this; I only went halfway, but as I wrote on MNN, cycling across the country will change your life. The trouble is, it's dangerous; there is no national cycling strategy and I know people who have been killed doing it, right on the road in Alberta that I was on.

But this is mostly about cities, where most of the votes are anyway. If there was a strategy to build safe, connected bike infrastructure in cities, more people would ride all year round. Jagmeet Singh is in Ottawa, where cycling is not easy. According to the Globe and Mail,

Bike Ottawa, an advocacy organization lobbying for more segregated cycling lanes and lower speed limits on residential streets, said it has survey results that suggest up to one-third of Ottawa residents want to bike but are waiting for safer infrastructure to do so. Bike counters on segregated bikes lane built through Ottawa’s downtown in 2011 found the number of bikes on the route almost doubled over the first four years.

Every nation needs a national cycling strategy, to make it easier and safer to bike in cities and between them. Everybody's health, fitness and climate would be better for it. I don't know why everyone is snickering at Jagmeet Singh about this because he is right.