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Will Ladner’s bicycle vote flatten his tires?

Vancouver NPA mayoral candidate Peter Ladner is famous for bicycling wherever possible – it’s become part of his green businessman brand. But when it came time to spend city money on cycling infrastructure, he applied the brakes.

That’s been noticed in the cycling community, says Kathy Sinclair, a frequent contributor to Momentum, Vancouver’s magazine “for self-propelled people.”

“The City allocated just $ 5 million to cycling infrastructure in its draft Capital Plan, $15 million less than recommended by the Bicycle Advisory Committee. Despite a sympathetic email from Peter Ladner that assured Council would take another look at this number, all NPA councillors voted against allocating any additional funding,” according to Sinclair.

In a losing effort, Vision councillors and David Cadman voted for a $1.5 million bump in bike funding.

Sinclair and other cycling advocates were on hand at the city council's 2009-2011 Capital Plan forum last week to argue for a U-turn. When her turn to speak came up, Sinclair recounted the dangers – and car-caused injuries – she’s endured biking around town.

And added: “If you don’t give [people] the safety and infrastructure they need to feel confident, they will continue to drive their cars to work and drive their children to school, contributing negatively to the city’s air quality, pollution and carbon emissions, and residents’ physical and mental health.”

As Sinclair noted, “Only four per cent of Vancouver residents commute by bike” and the share of trips taken by bicycle hasn’t risen region-wide since 1996, which may figure into politicians’ voting calculations. But she argued our model should be Davis, California or Boulder, Colorado, where one in five commute by bike.

Where to start? Sinclair suggested “upgrades to the Granville, Cambie and Burrard Bridges, completing the bikeway network, secure bike parking, and separated bicycle tracks along arterial roads so cyclists can access shopping and other destinations.”

In a campaign where both Ladner and his opponent, Vision’s Gregor Robertson, are eager to be seen pumping the pedals, expect Sinclair and her tribe to roll straight into their paths with some hard questions about the cost of a bike friendly city.

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