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The “Women On A Roll” Report

The “Women On A Roll” Report

(image from the League’s press release – click through to read it)

Last week, the venerable League of American Bicyclists released their Women On A Roll report with lots of great data about female cyclists’ needs and challenges. It’s great to see a report that backs up what many womens’ cycling blogs have been saying for the past five years with numbers. While there are many other bicycle blogs covering this story in great depth – notably Lady Fleur‘s and Bike Portland‘s – I thought I’d share my thoughts. I can’t speak for younger female riders – like the 60% of bicycling Millennials mentioned in the report – but I can reflect on what those bicyclists will be looking for as they transition into the next phase of their life.

Suburban and urban moms like me want to ride more with our kids, and feel safe doing it; if we can’t, we end up having to make car trips instead. This is a no-brainer, right?

So, we’re not only looking for bicycles that let us ride to work in our normal clothes, and clothes that fit us properly even if we haven’t gotten back our pre-baby figures yet (ahem, a plus size line of commuter-style clothes would be an instant hit, justsayin’). We’re looking for racks and panniers and baskets to make it easy to haul all our stuff. We’re looking for secure seats and trailers that fit kids who are no longer babies but aren’t quite ready to ride on their own. We’re looking for midtails and bakfiets and mamachari. We’d rather not have to import them from abroad ourselves. We have young families, so we need them to affordable, too.

We’re looking for shops that make it easy for us to find these things, instead of hiding them in the back, and salespeople who don’t assume they know more about what we need than we do, and don’t assume that every woman who walks in the shop is a new cyclist. We’re looking for mechanics who don’t talk down to us if we bring them in for routine maintenance because we’d rather delegate that job than do it ourselves while juggling our kids and work. If we go to our local bike kitchen to do the maintenance ourselves, we’re looking for helpful volunteers who are cool with us bringing our kids along. (I count myself lucky that all those resources exist in my city, and that I was able to find them without too much effort, because I know my experience in that regard is far from universal.)

We’re looking for separated infrastructure that actually will get us from home to the local school, grocery, public transit hubs, daycares, shops, and workplaces, and that we will feel safe riding with our kids. Here in Edmonton, that means not only working on introducing separated infrastructure in key parts of the city, but making sure that the multi-use paths being built in residential neighborhoods actually are making it possible and convenient to run local errands by bike, even in winter.

I read the report and I see a lot to feel optimistic about. There are more women on bicycles than there have been in years, and great resources that are teaching riding and repair skills, and an explosion of interest in women’s rides and riding groups (like Edmonton’s Critical Lass ride, which is happening on Saturday this month).

For me, it’s not just about closing the cycling gender gap. If we make it easy and comfortable for women to ride with their families, then the numbers of kids and teens using active transport rise too. It’s healthier, and better for the planet, and way more fun to be on a bike than stuck in a car. Everyone will benefit from being comfortable riding their bicycle!

What do you think? Any surprises for you in the Women On A Roll report?

 

Feminism, Women Only Rides, & Critical Lass

Feminism, Women Only Rides, & Critical Lass

An image from 2 Wheels and Heels in Columbus, Ohio, via the Momentum Magazine article (click photo to read) on Women-Only Rides.

As an organizer of social bike rides for women, I have mixed feelings about the way they are perceived by nonparticipants. I’ve commented on the unhelpfulness of some critiques of cycle chic before, pointing out that the cycle chic movement itself isn’t sexist, so much as that it’s vulnerable to being co-opted by the sexism and commercialism of our society. The latest post from bike blog land that has me thinking about this, is instead critiquing the emphasis on a particular version of femininity in social rides for women. I think this is more about perception than the way the rides are actually organized, but let’s explore the ideas behind social rides a bit, and talk about our goals for Critical Lass.

The perception that you can’t wear street clothes (whether they’re business-casual or date-night-pretty) on a bike is part of the reason there aren’t more women on bikes in North America, according to surveys, and that’s part of what motivates the creators of rides and bike blogs like ours. (The other part of the equation is safe infrastructure, and most bike bloggers of both genders are also involved with bicycle infrastructure advocacy.)

Our intent was always that the Critical Lass Edmonton rides were the equivalent of going for brunch with your friends, and our food stops were meant to provide participants with an opportunity to chat and build community. We chose routes that would let us explore more of the city, and destinations that would make it feel like a special occasion. We wanted the fun of a Tweed Ride without the anachronism or cos-play. We wanted to make new friends and support local businesses (some of whom are bakeries). We wanted to make it approachable to novices, and we didn’t want bike-snob guys patronizing us or hitting on us. (Not that we’ve ever had that problem on rides in Edmonton. The cycling community here is awesome like that. But these are the preconceptions that keep newbies away from big rides like Critical Mass.)

Some of our participants ride in their skirts and dressy shoes, with their children or on their own, on every type of bike, to work or grad school or the grocery store, every single day, because that’s how they would dress whether they were on a bike or not. They should be able to get on their bikes and do their thing without being sneered at as tools of the patriarchy, the same way that women who race or mountain bike wearing appropriate attire for those types of cycling should be able to do their thing without being ridiculed, and the same way any of us should be able to walk into a bike shop without being talked down to by a sales dude who knows less about what we need than we do.

But. I think we do need to take care in the way we describe and promote social rides for women. All women should feel welcome to participate, not just girly girls. We also need to take care that, if our goal is to create equality for cyclists, that we aren’t accidentally playing into stereotypes that are being used to marginalize us.

To some feminists, cupcakes and high heels aren’t just dessert and clothing, they’re symbolic of the infantalization and objectification of women by society. As I’ve pointed out before, friction between second- and third-generation feminists is playing a role in these conversations; third-gen feminists also see high heels as a symbol of power. However, if names like “Cupcake Ride” or an emphasis on fashion in our photos are attracting criticism, we need to listen with an open mind, and perhaps adjust our plans.

We also need to think about what our goals and our target demographic actually are, design our events accordingly, and find ways to measure our progress toward those goals. If our goal is to attract novice riders and build the community, then our events will look different from ones that are designed as socials for an existing cycling community of experienced riders.

In the case of Critical Lass Edmonton, we think that explicitly restating our goals will help us with our planning. So, let’s reiterate:

  • Critical Lass is an inclusive ride for female cyclists of all levels of experience. We often have moms with young kids join us. (We will be planning our first family ride / Kidical Mass this summer too.)
  • We ride in street clothes, and sometimes we dress up. Our focus is on fun, not fashion.
  • Vintage bike? Mixte? Mountain bike? Hybrid? Racer? Dutch city bike? Folder? Longtail? Bakfiets? We think they’re all fabulous. We might ask to give it a test ride or take loving closeup photos of parts.
  • Our route is suitable for novice cyclists. Mostly residential streets and bike paths, no tricky high-traffic areas, usually pretty flat.
  • Our destination is a place where we can rehydrate, grab coffee and a snack, and socialize. We prioritize locally-owned businesses that are vegan- and allergy-friendly.

We haven’t actually been keeping track previously, but we will poll our participants this year and see what proportion of them are experienced riders and what proportion are novices. Maybe then, for fun, we can do an actual cupcake ride (in, say, October?) with super-girliness and a fashion emphasis, and see how those proportions change. It won’t be terribly scientific, but maybe it will give an idea whether these things actually do bring more newbies out. I have a feeling that if we compare those proportions for Critical Lass, a special cupcake ride, and Kidical Mass, we might be surprised by the results.

The 6 year old urban planner. Part II.

The 6 year old urban planner. Part II.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Aurora_Avenue_and_Bridge_Deck_20.jpg

 Sometimes my kid cracks me up. Early this summer I was driving with him on Aurora Blvd. Highway 99 extends both north and south of Seattle, but it then becomes Aurora Blvd, a city street lined with businesses in the north end, before reaching the tunnel and then the Viaduct downtown. For much of its length, this street is a major arterial with four lanes, two in each direction. It carries a high volume of traffic and is a necessary route through the city, but is an awkward hybrid of freeway and city street and is a major barrier for both pedestrians and cyclists.

As we drove south, Spencer asked “Where’s the bike lane?”

“Well”, I replied, “It’s on the sidewalk. People walking and people on bikes have to share.”

Spencer was not pleased with this explanation. “That’s not fair! There isn’t enough room there to walk and ride bikes at the same time!”

Well, Seattle?

Cycle chic, personal style, and feminism

Cycle chic, personal style, and feminism

(Forgive me, folks, I’m a couple of months behind on my blog reading, but I had to share my thoughts on this…)

So. Wanting to wear stylish clothing on my bicycle makes me a tool of the patriarchy?

*Eyeroll*

Heaven knows there are lots of sexualized ‘cycle chic’ photos that have been circulated that have almost nothing to do with bicycles and everything to do with the male gaze – for amazing commentary on that see Sweet Georgia Brown – and lots of other ‘cycle chic’ photos that have everything to do with selling us stuff we don’t need. The criticism that the cycle chic movement is vulnerable to being co-opted by sexism and consumerism is a valid one. However. That doesn’t mean the movement itself is sexist and consumerist.

On a continent where girls stop using their bikes sometime in their teens because they think it makes them look dorky, and where the idea that bicycling is a fringe activity is used to justify rolling back funding of much-needed bike infrastructure, I believe that photos of women and men (of all ages, sizes, and shapes) enjoying bicycle rides to go places and do things help to make cycling more accessible.

As for the perception that cycle chic prescribes a particular, exclusive, commercial version of fashionable: I do not believe that expensive clothes, or expensive bikes, are a prerequisite for cycle chic. That line about your clothes being more valuable than your bike in the Cycle Chic Manifesto? I think its author is talking about using the bike as a tool for living – along the lines of his post about your bike being like a vacuum cleaner. I stand with Velouria on that topic, and think emotional attachment to bikes we’ve customized to our tastes is part of what makes bicycling appealing – but the point is that perhaps he’s using ‘value’ (not expense) as a stand-in for relative importance. He’s saying it’s not about the bike, it’s about your personal style and your needs, and that your bike should suit you, not the other way around.

I don’t believe that youth and a standard definition of beauty are requirements of cycle chic, either.

It doesn’t matter if you wear something you’ve made, something you’ve thrifted, something you found in a big-box bargain bin or something you had to get on a haute couture wait-list to buy. It doesn’t matter if you’re twenty or forty or eighty. What matters – with both personal style, and cycle chic – is that you feel great about yourself, and that you’re having fun. To me, the most attractive thing about any photo of a bicyclist is the sense that they’re having fun on their bike. They look great because they feel great, no matter what they’re wearing.

I’m a 40-year-old plus-size mother of two who lives in the suburbs. I ride relatively inexpensive workhorse 3-speeds, for fun and the occasional grocery run, and I stop riding when the snow flies (icy roads plus drivers not expecting to see cyclists in outer-ring subdivisions is a bad combination). I have a closet full of jeans and t-shirts and thrift-shop finds and handmade jewelry. I rarely wear makeup, and I don’t do designer labels (Well, I have this one scarf, but it’s not an obvious status piece.). I am a chic cyclist, and a feminist, and an advocate for better bicycle infrastructure and more sustainable living.

None of these facts preclude any of the others.

What a shame that some bicycle advocates don’t see it that way. I guess they’re just not listening.

(PS: Yes, I know there’s an issue with the Disqus comments right now – I am waiting on their support people to tell me how to fix it. Apparently they upgraded their back end and broke the CSS somehow. Meanwhile, you can read the white-text-on-white-background if you highlight the comments.)

The 6-year old urban planner

The 6-year old urban planner

http://seattlebikeblog.com/2010/11/30/poisoned-sharrow/

My son is a chatterbox. He can keep up a running commentary about dinosaurs, Star Wars, Spiderman and more, interrupted only to ask me to read signs to him. I will confess to tuning out sometimes – when I’m driving or cycling, I need to pay attention to the road and I really don’t care why Spiderman is SO COOL. However, it’s worth reserving at least some of my attention for him, because every now and then he comes up with a few gems.

Last weekend, we were driving to soccer practice in the Queen Anne neighborhood. As we turned onto Nickerson Drive, we slowed down.

Spencer asked “Why are we going so slow? Go faster, Mommy!”

Me “There’s a bike ahead of us. We can’t go faster until it’s safe to pass him.”

Spencer “Why isn’t he in the bike lane?”

Me “Well, there isn’t a bike lane here. We have sharrows, special markings saying that cars and bikes have to be careful and share the same lane. See, here it turns into a bike lane, so we have more room and I can pass him”.

I passed the cyclist and had a minute or so of silence while Spencer looked out the window. Then he spoke up again.

“Why is the bike lane here and then gone, and then here and then gone again?  That’s too confusing!”

Indeed.

Margin of Error

Margin of Error

What makes good infrastructure? One key feature is that it is forgiving. Infrastructure that requires expert skills and an absolute focus is crappy infrastructure.

Photo courtesy of Michael Snyder via SeattleBikeBlog.
A recent example of this can be found on the Burke-Gilman Trail. This is the grandaddy of multi-user trails in Seattle. It’s a major route for bicycle commuters during the week and is thronged with the kids & dogs crowd on the weekend. It’s one of my favourite parts of Seattle. However, it does have its flaws, including a spot near NW 41st St. where the trail crosses railway tracks. The trail does try to indicate that cyclists should cross at a 90 degree angle, but the natural path to take is a shallow angle that places cyclists at considerable risk of catching a tire on the track and falling. To try to improve safety, a rubber mat was installed. This does prevent catching a tire, but can become very slippery itself when it’s wet or frosty. Not surprisingly, this has been the site of many accidents (well covered by the Seattle Times and SeattleBikeBlog) and I’m happy to hear that SDOT is fixing it.
The response to the story has been fascinating. At some point in the comments, you’ll typically see an exchange like this:
  • People ride too fast there! I always slow down enough and cross at a 90 degree angle and I’ve NEVER had a problem
  • Well, I’m a VERY experienced cyclist and have crossed that spot thousands of times without a problem before falling and breaking my arm!
  • People have to learn how to cross railway track safely. Slow down and cross at a perfect 90 degree angle!

Now, I’m all for safety, and hearing about these accidents certainly reminds me to be careful when crossing the tracks. I also recognize that the city can’t find and correct every hazard out there, whether it’s gravel, potholes or wet leaves. However, I think people tend to miss the point. When we build and design infrastructure, we can’t assume that everyone using it will be highly skilled. We also can’t assume that those who are skilled will be paying perfect attention at every moment in time. Our brains do not work this way. We all get distracted by things we see on our way, personal issues, or even thoughts of dinner. If a spot is particularly risky, you can do everything correctly (which we often don’t) and still have a significant chance of falling.

If our infrastructure demands perfection, it’s only a matter of time before we’ll fail. Good infrastructure allows for some margin of error. We demand it in the design of our highways and cars – let’s also demand it in our bicycling infrastructure.
Gender Gap?

Gender Gap?

There’s a fascinating discussion going on in bike-blog-land as a result of Elly Blue’s Bicycling’s Gender Gap post at Grist. She makes an interesting argument that the gender disparity in ridership figures could be a result of economic disparity and additional caregiving and household duties, in addition to the ‘fear and fashion’ theories – and points out that both cycling infrastructure and appropriate, affordable bikes for carrying kids and cargo are missing in most North American cities. The lively comment section is well worth a read, with additional points about racism, class-ism, street harassment, and public perceptions of cyclists being made. It’s also well worth going back and reading the rest of the series of articles, which includes some especially salient points about political pressure to keep the status quo and the actual costs of freeways. The author also followed up on her own blog. Meanwhile the discussion has spun off onto one of our favourite bicycle blogs, Velo Vogue. Go read the links and meet me back here, mmkay?

You’ve read it now? Good stuff, right? If a bit counter-intuitive based on the explosion in lady-bike availability and number of women writing fantastic bicycle blogs.

So, instead of debating which is the most important, let’s say that all those factors are at play in preventing women from riding at the same rate as men do in North America – which they probably are, to some extent. How can we fix that? How do we encourage more ladies to get on their bikes? Can bike blogs like ours, and the social rides and bikey events organized by blogs like ours, actually make a difference?

Angel (my Loop-Frame Love coblogger) and I probably aren’t typical cycling activists (if such a person exists). We’re moms with 2 young kids each and minivans and small budgets who live in the suburbs – and we’d love for this blog to (eventually) demonstrate that it’s possible to live car-light under those circumstances, if not completely car-free – like our blogging heroes at Carfree With Kids, Car Free DaysChicargobike, full hands, mamafiets, and Totcycle are already doing on their blogs for their circumstances. So let’s be honest about the barriers we face to doing that, and how they relate to the factors mentioned above.

(Our coblogger Jen’s situation differs from ours in that she’s living in a more central neighborhood in a different city, has one child, and is still commuting to full-time work instead of staying home or working part-time… so we hope she’ll chime in in the comment section.)

My favourite current setup for easy kid-hauling is the Bobike Junior seat on a Raleigh-built 3-speed (Ms. Trudy Phillips),
but my 8-year-old is a bit too big for the seat and the pretty wicker basket will only hold a small bag of groceries.

We’re pretty lucky in a lot of ways. We’re middle-class white Canadians, so our experiences are fairly sheltered. Our husbands are not themselves cyclists, but are happy to support our interest in cycling. We’re part of a bigger local community of cyclists, advocates, and bike bloggers who are demonstrating through their daily lives and organized rides just how much fun life on two wheels can be. We’re social creatures, so it’s probably important in helping us stay motivated that we have that support system.

We live in a city with progressive urban planners who are in the process of improving the infrastructure for public transit and active transport, and we live in neighborhoods that have multi-user paths and/or sharrowed bike lanes that we can safely ride to useful destinations. However, we also live in the closest big city to the Oilsands, in a politically conservative part of Canada, in a place where a large proportion of the automotive vehicles using the roads are pick-up trucks and sports utility vehicles. So, when we venture outside the MUPs and sharrows, we don’t always encounter drivers who are predisposed to be kind to bicycle users. We have been buzzed and yelled at. We totally understand when our friends who haven’t ridden since their teens ask hesitantly about traffic on the route for the next Critical Lass. That said, the infrastructure in our neighborhoods has made that a pretty minor concern for our day-to-day rides.

We’re also really lucky to be part of a community with an amazing not-for-profit (EBC) that makes it possible to buy a low-cost vintage bike and turn it into a safe, reliable ride we can wear our regular clothes on; but turning it into a grocery-getter and a good way to get young children from A to B can be a bit of a challenge. We still wish we could get our hands on a longtail or cargo bike without having to blow our budgets. Going car-free so we can increase our bicycle budgets is not in the cards for our families, and we’re both still figuring out how we can run bike errands with two kids in tow, since neither of our eldest children are strong solo cyclists yet, despite being too big to be passengers. We’ll be actively working on that during the summer holiday from school.

We can testify that how busy our day is and how pressed for time we feel does directly affect how much (or how little) we ride. A quick run to the grocery store without children for a few items is easily managed by bike, but multiple errands with the kids becomes an all-day adventure when you’re not properly set up to do it by bike. A longtail or cargo bike would make that much easier, but ferrying the kids to extracurricular activities in other parts of the city immediately after school still would require a car because of the distances involved. If we were commuting for work, public transit would probably be more time-efficient than cycling, because we both live walking distance from major suburban transit hubs (As it happens, my husband has found that taking the LRT downtown is usually quicker than driving, and more pleasant.). So, ability to use our bikes while caring for our children and living our busy lives has been our single biggest barrier to riding more.

Your turn, my friends. What’s your single biggest barrier to riding more? Which barriers do you feel apply to your friends (of either gender) who don’t use their bikes? How can bike bloggers and cycling advocates help remove those barriers?

Update: I’ve just been reading Velouria’s post on Lovely Bicycle about the different kinds of bicycle commuting, and I wonder how the study that’s being discussed accounted for office-job commuters versus freelancers and errand-runners, and how gender might skew which category you fall into?


Update 2: You need to also check out LGRAB’s new series of guest posts on commuting by novice cyclists, the first of which was just posted – they’ll be talking about their barriers and how they surmounted them, too! I love the ideas from the current post of learning to bike commute in steps, and seeking out social ties to the activity so you have friends and role models. 


3rd July, Update 3: We’ve been invited to crosspost this piece on the perfectly wonderful blog Lindsay’s List, which has necessitated a slight rewrite and the addition of a shout-out to a few of our car-free-and-car-light family blog heroes. I’ll also be adding a photo that wasn’t originally included, of my current setup, once it’s been taken.


10 July, Update 4: http://lindsayslist.org/2011/07/gender-gap/ It’s up!

Municipal Election Bike Advocacy

Municipal Election Bike Advocacy

It’s municipal election time here in Edmonton (as you may know from the fabulous Miss Sarah’s blog), and I’ve been trying to work out who will earn my votes this time around. The new ward map means I can’t just vote for who I voted for last time, so a little research is required.

Luckily for me, Edmonton Bicycle Commuters have put together the terrific Cycle Edmonton website, compiling the responses from all the candidates to their questionaire and reader-submitted copies of email responses to letters. It also has links to all the candidates’ websites and other contact information. Highly recommended!


Update: The REALTORS Association of Edmonton have also posted the responses by candidates to their survey. Very interesting stuff.

(Also luckily, Edmonton Grows Up have endorsed a slate of candidates for the Edmonton Public School Board who will work proactively with communities to prevent school closures in mature neighborhoods. There’s a great post on Dave Cournoyer’s blog about the old-guard versus younger candidates for EPSB trustees that I also suggest you check out.)


However, there are a number of candidates whose public platforms are incomplete, or who have not replied to surveys and questionnaires. Since these particular candidates don’t have twitter accounts, I went with the next most immediate method to publicly ask them for more information online: their blogs. (More after the jump…)

For Edmonton Catholic School Board trustee candidates in my ward, the race is essentially between the incubent Marilyn Bergstra, and former trustee Michael Savaryn. (One other candidate seems to be running on a platform that Catholic schools are not religious enough – um what? – and the fourth candidate repeatedly misspells “school closure” in her campaign literature and has no website. So, I’m not taking them seriously.) Savaryn has replied to EBC’s questionaire and makes a point of discussing ways of preventing the closure of schools in core neighborhoods in his pamphlet (but, again, no website? Seriously?). Bergstra mentions her recreational cycling and work on anti-idling campaigns on her website; her literature is the usual effective-responsible-fiscally-prudent stuff that incubents here in Alberta always seem to run on.

So I asked her on her blog:

Hi Marilyn,

I’m a parent in your ward, with children attending St. Monica’s Elementary and Monsignor William Irwin Elementary Schools.

Can you please comment on your platform and record regarding closure versus renovation versus alternative uses for ECSD schools in mature, core neighborhoods?

Also, will you please take the time to complete the questionnaire you have received from Edmonton Bicycle Commuters? I’m very interested to hear whether, as an avid recreational cyclist yourself, you’ll advocate for adequate bicycle parking and other pedestian- and bicycle-friendly infrastructure at ECSD schools, bicycle safety education, bike-to-school events, and other measures to encourage students and their families to ride or walk to school.

These ideas can reduce the ridiculous crush of idling motor vehicles around our schools during drop-off and pick-up times, and promote stronger, healthier, safer, more vibrant neighborhoods.

I look forward to your response.



…No response yet. I wonder if I’ll get one? There’s so little conversation on her blog that I was surprised that comments were enabled.


(I may actually be in a position to follow up on some of these ideas at the level of individual schools in my part of town, since I have volunteered to help organize a bike-to-school month with a bike rodeo at my daughter’s school, and will naturally share the information with people at my son’s school as well… stay tuned for a separate blog post on that!) 


As for councilors, the race in my ward (Ward 9) isn’t hotly contested. We have a well-respected, fairly progressive incumbent in Bryan Anderson, who has replied to EBC’s questionnaire and said sensible, well-researched things – and a handful of challengers who none of the pundits seem to think have much chance of unseating him. (Envision Edmonton aren’t even funding a candidate in this ward.) The most interesting of those challengers, or at least the one whose platform aligns most closely with my own opinions, is Jennifer Watts, so I commented on her blog to see if she would also say sensible, well-researched things. (Update: she did! But none of them were about cycling infrastructure. Yet.)


Here’s what I said:








Hi Jennifer,

I’m extremely interested in sustainable design and development, and have recently taken up cycling again as a way of minimizing both my carbon footprint and improving my health. I bike both with my school-age children and on my own to run errands, and I’m fortunate to live in a part of Ward 9 where it is possible to walk, bike, and use public transit much of the time – although the multiuser pathways are not always convenient, and motor vehicle users sometimes seem dangerously unaware that adult bicycles are legally required to be on the roadways, not the sidewalks.

You’ve been quoted in the newspaper articles you have attached about the need to manage sprawl in our ward, and you specifically mention accommodating public transit and active transportation (walking & cycling) in the “Transportation” part of your platform, and supporting the community leagues and schools to strengthen our neighborhoods in the “Community” section of your platform.

Can you clarify how you, as councillor, would support our school boards in preventing school closures in core neighborhoods, and support rejuvenation of core neighborhoods so that they are attractive to young families such as mine, and the small local businesses promoted by groups such as Keep Edmonton Original?

Can you also clarify your position regarding funding of the City of Edmonton’s Bicycle Transportation Plan, and take the time to answer the questionnaire you have received from the Edmonton Bicycle Commuters Society? I’m very interested to hear how you would support cyclists and pedestrians, and thereby promote stronger, healthier, safer, more vibrant neighborhoods. (Readers can learn more about the City’s BTP, and see what other candidates are saying at http://CycleEdmonton.ca)

Congratulations on a thoughtful and progressive campaign. I look forward to your response.

Update: since her response did not answer the cycling side of my questions, and her questionnaire response has not been posted yet (presumably because she has not bothered with it), I posted a followup comment:

 Thanks for your thoughts on revitalizing mature neighborhoods by improving infrastructure, and how demographics influence school enrolments. Naturally, these are complex problems that require a many pieces to be in place for their solutions.

However, you really didn’t address my question about bicycling infrastructure. Cycling in Edmonton is increasingly popular, but the existing recreational multiuser trail network is incomplete and ill-designed for the needs of people wishing to commute to work or run errands in their own neighborhoods. City planners have recognized the importance of cycling and the trend toward increasing bicycle use by creating the 10-year Bicycle Transportation Plan, but it needs to be fully funded, and although the dollar amount for that investment is relatively small (less than the cost of a single freeway overpass, at $10-million per year for 10 years), it is vulnerable to cuts if councillors are ill-informed about the many other benefits of the plan. 

By completing the proposed bike paths and sharrow lanes, and fully integrating the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians into future public transit and roadway construction projects, we would not only ensure that everyone can travel our city safely and efficiently in a healthier, more sustainable manner. We’d also make it possible for families to get by with fewer motor vehicles, putting more money back in their pockets and thus improving the local economy. Improved bicycle infrastructure can also make neighborhoods come alive: more pedestrians and bicyclists on the streets lowers crime rates, and more pedestrians and bicyclists spending time in local parks and spending money in local businesses helps to build vibrant neighborhoods where residents know each other and set down roots. More people using their bikes means less traffic congestion, fewer parking issues, and requires less road maintenance.

Will you commit to fully funding the Bicycle Transportation Plan as part of your commitment to smart, comprehensive development plans and reinvestment in mature neighborhoods?

Thank you for taking the time to reply to my comments.

Sincerely, 

Deborah