John Kernaghan, The Hamilton Spectator, (Jun 15, 2009)
Bike shops are reporting more people selling second cars and buying commuter bicycles.
And Hamilton is trying to meet that growing interest with a master cycling plan that would quadruple annual budgets for bike paths.
But even that $1.25 million wouldn't complete a recommended network in 20 years.
And the plan, to be presented to the city's public works committee today, offers a more aggressive alternative that would ramp up investment to $2.5 million each year.
That would complete the urban network in 10 years and the rural web of bike paths in 20 years.
The plan prepared by Hart Solomon notes Hamilton would have to match per capita spending in Burlington and Toronto, of $5.25 per person per year, to achieve that. A lower amount of $2.50 per capita "reflects the reality of our limited capital budget for road improvements."
The plan updates the Shifting Gears plan devised by the former region of Hamilton Wentworth.
It suggests a middle ground between no real cycling network and the ideal -- an upgrade of all city streets for cycling use.
It seeks the "satisfactory" concept of a cyclist travelling less than a kilometre to access a formal cycling route. That means a grid with two-kilometre spacing for urban areas.
The total cost to upgrade about 270 links to create that grid would cost $51.5 million over time, split $22.6 million urban and $28.9 million rural.
In asking the plan to be adopted, the report recommended that the position of project manager, alternative transportation, be made a permanent job.
The plan follows a series of six public meetings that left two people in the bike business optimistic.
"It's moving slowly," said Sam DiBussolo, of All The Right Gears cycle shop. "But it is moving forward and I think they'll get it done."
And Elaine Pierik, of Pieriks Cycle in Westdale, said she was hopeful, "as long as they keep moving forward. In the past it's been one step forward, two steps back."
She said customers in her store are increasingly giving up cars and using bikes for work.
"We have a number of people buying folding bikes, so they can cycle to the GO station, then collapse the bike and carry it on the train to work."