HUB Cycling Submission to the 2020 BC Budget Consultations
July 4, 2019
Time for fair investment in cycling
Cycling is the fastest growing mode of transportation in both Metro Vancouver and across British Columbia. Metro Vancouver-specific data from the Canadian Urban Transit Association’s national survey1 showed that 7 in 10 (75%) respondents said that road congestion is a problem in their area. More than 40% of Metro Vancouverites2 want to cycle for transportation but are hesitant because there is not a connected network of safe infrastructure, nor systemic road user education and legislation that increases awareness and protects vulnerable road users. HUB Cycling encourages the Province to increase investment in cycling infrastructure, education and promotion to assist the Province in reaching its goals in the areas of transportation, climate action, poverty reduction, and ensuring an innovative and sustainable public health system3. The recent BC Active Transportation Strategy has come out with proactive targets and action areas to double active transportation mode share by 2030. In order for the Province to achieve these commendable targets, a significant increase in active transportation investment is required in the 2020 BC Budget.
Seeing as walking and rolling trips have a limited viable distance, and land use changes are slow, the lowest hanging fruit for modal shift in active transportation is with cycling - which can easily be used for approximately half of all current trips4.
Funding programs, such as BikeBC, will need to be updated in accordance with the new Provincial Active Transportation Design Guide, in order to ensure that All Ages and Abilities facilities are prioritized over projects that are comfortable for only some or few. HUB Cycling encourages the continuation of the cross-ministerial approach that has started during the development of this strategy. Benefits accrue across ministries; therefore, investments should also be made from across ministries such as Health, Environment & Climate Change, Education, Municipal Affairs and Housing as well as Transportation & Infrastructure.
Here are Key Recommendations that will make possible the actions outlined in the Strategy:
- Dramatically increase active transportation infrastructure cost-share funding for municipalities. A sample of our local communities shows that 67% of their applications were not able to be funded.
- Increase investment for improving active transportation infrastructure on and alongside MoTI roads, bridges and highways. Note that there is a current Province of BC policy: Provisions for cyclists are made on all new and upgraded provincial highways5. This policy has not always been followed, and a number of gaps exist due to that oversight. More funding must be allocated for the Province to live up to their commitments and to achieve their active transportation and climate goals.
- Increase funding for maintenance of active transportation facilities so that they are clear of debris, and surfaces and signage are functional.
- Increase funding to add active transportation staff within MoTI and other supports to rapidly implement the active transportation strategy. For example, Washington State has a Director of Active Transportation with multiple staff dedicated to this topic.
- Fund systemic school cycling education for children at $1.5 million/year
- Fund active transportation education for drivers and active transportation users
- Fund active transportation promotion, including at least doubling funding for Bike to Work Week and Bike to School Week. Invest at least $2/capita/year in promotion, enabling and education for active transportation.
- Make electric, cargo, adaptive and other cycles more affordable through rebates, low cost financing and eliminating the PST
- Fund secure public bike parking in buildings, at transit hubs, and theft reduction programs
- Fund the review of the BC Motor Vehicle Act to better protect vulnerable road users. The Act has been largely unchanged in the past 50 years, during which time significant changes to infrastructure, vehicle types, and road usage have taken place. Preliminary estimates indicate that $5-10 million will be needed to review and implement necessary changes over the next few years.
- Make the funding process more transparent and accessible.
As municipalities continue to prioritize and implement cycling facilities in their respective jurisdictions, provincial funding is not in sync with current demand. BC currently spends about $1.50 per person, per year on active transportation, which correlates with the low cycling mode share of 2.5% of personal transport in B.C. By comparison, the Netherlands spends $48 per person per year on active transportation programs; Denmark invests $34 per person, and New Zealand recently announced an investment of $24 per person on infrastructure, education, promotion and safety. The Province should increase BikeBC Funding to at least $100 million/year for the next 10 years ($21 per person per year) to complete the currently fragmented bike network in that time. HUB Cycling recommends at least $21/person/year on completing cycling networks and an additional at least $2/person/year on cycling promotion enabling and education. HUB Cycling and TransLink will be releasing a State of Cycling report in fall 2019 that will have updated bicycle route identification to better quantify what is needed to complete the cycling network within Metro Vancouver in the next 10 years.
Importantly, cycling infrastructure is vastly more affordable than motor vehicle and public transit infrastructure; however, it still demands its fair share of funding to complete cycling networks so that people can safely and conveniently travel by bicycle. In order to achieve this objective, HUB Cycling supports the BC Cycling Coalition’s call for accelerated provincial investment in cycling at a level of $100 million per year over 10 years. This strategy must include designated financial and staff resources for improved infrastructure and systemic public education, such as Everyone Rides Grade 4-5 school cycling training in all elementary schools.
By increasing the investment to provide systemic school cycling education for all children in BC, the Province recognizes the value and success from other jurisdictions where there is strong investment here and the percent of children riding bikes to school in those countries is much higher. For example, the Netherlands, which provides cycling education for all children, has 50% of their children cycling to school vs. Canada that has no systemic school cycling education and only 2% of children cycle to school. An investment of $1.5 million/year would provide in-class and on-bike cycling education to every elementary school in BC.
The return on investment is high
My Health My Communities research and other related Where Matters projects of UBC, Vancouver Coastal Health, Metro Vancouver, TransLink, and other partners demonstrates the significant direct health savings that accrue from creating active transportation-friendly land use and design, along with the livability and quality of life increases. Recent research from Los Angeles showed $1 spent on active transportation returns over $8 in economic benefit. This value for money assessment by the UK DfT shows a very solid 5:1 benefit: cost ratio that motor vehicle and transit projects could only dream of. Local businesses also benefit from day-to-day spending by those who cycle. In urban areas, people walking and cycling spend more money with local businesses than motorists who visit the neighbourhood, according to a study by the Clean Air Partnership6. We know that many of the economic benefits come back to areas other than transportation - this is where it is important to be working across ministries for investments and returns, for example with Health, Environment, Education, Higher Education, Municipal Affairs and Housing, etc.
For every dollar spent on transportation cycling, governments receive approximately eight dollars back in savings in other areas.
Conclusion: Towards increased investment in cycling infrastructure
Currently, Provincial funding for cycling is far below demand, and is missing out on the huge potential benefits of more people using active transportation. For example, last year, the cities of Burnaby, Maple Ridge, Surrey, and Vancouver, as well as the District of North Vancouver applied for Bike BC cost-sharing funding but were unsuccessful due to limited funds. As HUB Cycling has identified, Metro Vancouver’s cycling network is full of gaps7—or areas lacking cycling infrastructure—and safe, connected infrastructure is needed now, more than ever before to #UnGapTheMap. As such, HUB Cycling encourages the Province to increase investment in cycling to ensure environmentally and economically healthier communities, assisting the Province in reaching its goals for active transportation, the climate plan, and poverty reduction, and ensuring an innovative and sustainable public health system.
1 Canadian Urban Transit Association’s National Survey (April, 2019)
2 Regional Cycling Strategy, TransLink (2011)
3 BC Ministry of Health Service Plan
4 Regional Cycling Strategy, TransLink (2011)
5 Provisions for cyclists are made on all new and upgraded provincial highways
6 Clean Air Partnership, Bike Lanes, On-Street Parking and Business: A Study of Bloor Street in Toronto's Annex Neighbourhood (2009)
7 HUB Cycling: Connecting the region's cycling network to build a future for bikes in Metro Vancouver.