How can we make Hamilton a better place to raise a child, address poverty issues, and prove to the rest of the world that Hamilton is interested in attracting bright young professionals? We can continue to support sustainable transportation, and specifically at this juncture, the Shifting Gears cycling plan.
If you build it, will they come? Yes, they will.
Today we are constantly reminded that "Young professionals are attracted to diverse, explorable cities that are easily walked and biked, that have lots of green spaces and trails, exciting nightlife, clean air and water and good transit." (American consultant Rebecca Ryan, keynote speaker at the second annual Hamilton Economic Summit on May 6, "Young workers want a city they can love", Hamilton Spectator, April 27, 2009)
Getting the cycling network in place will help attract the "creative class" and will do much to "change Hamilton's image as a faltering industrial city paralyzed by conflict and indecision....Hamilton must celebrate itself, recreate its sense of pride and stop listening to the naysayers." ("Summit hears mega-region on road to prosperity", Hamilton Spectator, May 1, 2008)
In a city where 20% of households lack cars, and 40% of residents say they cycle regularly or occasionally (Hamilton-Wentworth Community Cycling Survey, 1997), investing in cycling provides long term benefit for comparably little cost.
The bike racks on city buses are a good example of spending to invest in infrastructure that pays long term dividends, both in practical terms for cyclists, and in enhancing the city's image.
The argument that we can't afford to invest in cycling infrastructure that meets the stated objectives of city policies like Vision 2020, The Transportation Master Plan, Making Hamilton the best place to raise a child, and other long range planning goals does not get us where we say we want to be.
Compare the annual operating bill for the 8 km valley parkway: $2.65 million, with the hoped for annual cycling investment of $2.5 million a year. Whereas the highway costs will likely rise over time, cycling infrastructure presents much lower maintenance costs for a city.
With these, and other considerations, such as public health and climate change in mind, Transportation for Liveable Communities encourages city council to fully support implementation of the Shifting Gears Cycling Plan, on a timeline that will allow us and our children to reap the rewards.
This was sent as a letter to Hamilton City Council by Randy Kay on behalf of Transportation for Liveable Communities.
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