Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Last week environmental organizations put out a proposal for a "Better Future Fund" aimed at the next BC election coming in May.  It proposed to take the provincial carbon tax and apply revenues to various initiatives to green up our energy expenditures.  The biggest chunk they earmarked for transit while proposing other investments in energy efficiencies for buildings and local community initiatives aimed at reducing our carbon footprint.

The community piece was pretty light on details, and the fund proposal missed the mark on active transportation - nothing in there about cycling and walking which, in many BC communities, are rapidly growing as viable transportation choices for more and more of our citizens and, unlike some of the other proposals, have a much more immediate and direct benefit in individual and community health.

I put out a news release to point out the missing link here, unfortunately all too typical of those who can't see the trees for the forest.  They get the big picture but don't always grasp some of the details of how to get there.  The Better Future Fund is still well intended and a good start to an important discussion, but we need to make sure that the practical solutions that we need to help people make more sustainable choices are spelled out in some detail and appropriately funded so that the sticks of the carbon tax are better paired with the carrots of real options for more sustainable lifestyle choices in how and where we live, and in the transportation choices we will be making several times a day, every day.

March 12, 2013

For Immediate Release

Better Future Fund Incomplete Says Cycling advocate

The Better Future Fund proposed by leading environmental organizations is a good recipe for BC’s carbon tax, but it is missing some essential ingredients, says Capital Bike and Walk Executive Director John Luton.

“Dollar for dollar, investments in cycling infrastructure is one of the most efficient and effective means of shifting travel choices to sustainable modes”, he said. 

“Carbon taxes need to be paired with investments in cycling infrastructure to help people choose cycling for more of their daily travel needs”, says Luton, “and the Better Future plan is a missed opportunity to make that point. When it comes to transportation, there is more than one shade of green”.

Victoria already has the highest mode share for cycling of any city in Canada, and can do more, but cities need helping funding the capital projects that are needed to attract a broader demographic than we’ve been able to grow so far. Cycling is not only a viable choice on its own, but, in larger cities, it also partners well with the transit that Better Future supporters want to fund, and has a coincident benefit in individual and community health.

Capital Bike and Walk has been working with local advocates and others in the province through the BC Cycling Coalition to develop a vision of what the province could achieve with new investments in cycling infrastructure.  He says the plan would not only help shift travel choices to more sustainable modes but would also help BC better compete with other jurisdictions putting money into cycling tourism initiatives that are growing jobs and new, sustainable economic modelsy.

Quebec is growing thousands of jobs around their “Route Verte” project; Vermont’s cycling tourism industry is bigger than maple syrup and locally, businesses and many BC communities are already building their own strategies to attract green tourism.

“Moving BC forwards to a more sustainable model needs to pair more of the carrots with the stick of the carbon tax.  We can’t just punish people with new costs – we’ve got to give them a range of options that will help them make the transition now and in the future.  We need the transit plan, but it has a much longer gestation period and higher up front capital costs than does cycling infrastructure programs”, said Luton.

“Provincial investments in cycling have been working, but programs have too often been cut to meet fiscal pressures.  We need to tie carbon taxes to program spending that makes good policy sense, and putting money into cycling is essential to a better future for BC.”

For more information:
John Luton, Executive Director
Capital Bike and Walk Society
250-886-4166 (cell)

BC Cycling Coalition provincial recommendations at: