Dear Mayor Helps and City Councillors,
My name is Susan Stokhof, I am a daily bicycle rider and a female business owner of a stylish bicycle accessory business in Victoria. We (YYJ) and other cities around the world) have entered into an era where the practicality of riding a bicycle meets fashion and style. Cycling is Victoria’s fastest mode of transportation and our current cycling infrastructure (or lack there of it) is not set up to manage this. I've noticed lately more people that are out on bikes the more frustrated car drivers are becoming. It’s really a dangerous act of heroism to cycle the streets in YYJ at the moment and this is coming from a confident cyclist who rides everyday.
As you already know, the cycling industry brings in billions of dollars a year into the Canadian economy. Riding a bicycle as a means of transportation (not just riding to work in your spandex) has hit a record high and shows no signs of slowing down. A new carefully planned and thought-out cycling infrastructure (with protected bicycle lanes) will benefit the City as a whole to build a first class cycling infrastructure where the other 99% of the people will want to ride their bikes, not just the current commuters who cycle to work. In fact, our new cycling infrastructure should not be built just for the current commuters out on the streets cycling. This may sound counterintuitive to what I've already written but it is true. Generally speaking, most of the current cyclists are going to continue to ride their bikes no matter what happens. We need to engage the other 99% of would-be riders and build the cycling infrastructure for them. The old adage, if you build it they will come, stands true. You only need to google what other cities have done to find this is true.
To build a vibrant community we need to see mothers and fathers cycling with their children to school. We need to see children cycling on their own to school (when did that stop?) All ages and abilities. Spending the $4.5 million surplus on a new, first class, cycling infrastructure for #YYJ will greatly benefit local businesses as well. There are many studies out there that prove the benefits to business when there is a high functioning cycling infrastructure. (please google it).
Victoria is special from most North American cities in that we have this amazing climate that just begs us to be outdoors all year long. If we want YYJ to be known as the "happiest city" in Canada we need to build a first class cycling infrastructure. Using the $4.5 million in surplus would benefit the city and bring more money into the local economy in return. You will see more tourists coming to YYJ to ride bikes, businesses will flourish, people will become happier, communities will be connected and so will people. It truly is a win, win situation. This is your opportunity to make Victoria the best in class cycling infrastructure, lets make this happen!
Sincerely, Susan Stokhof
Owner and Founder of Le Vélo Victoria.
So what can you do?
Until March 29th, the City of Victoria is accepting feedback on its 2015-2018 Draft Budget and Strategic plan. Read them here. Your feedback received will provide a road map for the City over the next four years.
This is a critical time to voice your support for better cycling infrastructure in Victoria.
Our call to action:
1. Email City Council at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell them that you support the construction of a first in class cycling network that is safe for all ages and abilities, and allocating the funds needed to build it.
2. Come to City Hall on Monday March 23rd, 7pm and participate in the Budget Town Hall. Join us on a bike ride to the Town Hall. It leaves Fernwood Square at 6pm. Facebook event for the is ride here;
3. Take the City's online Budget and Strategic Plan Survey here.
Thank you for your support!
This is an invitation for everyone in the Greater Victoria Region to join in on this and send a letter to our Mayor, Lisa Helps, and let her know that you too want a first in class cycling infrastructure.