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Surrey rolls out new cycling plan

Eighteen years after Surrey's last cycling strategy was released, the city curbed all doubts they were committed to improving biking by unveiling the new Surrey Cycling Plan earlier this week.

With close to 450 km of cycling routes constructed already, Surrey is hot on the heels of Vancouver when it comes to biking infrastructure. But the city is still a ways off from meeting Translinks's regional cycling goals for Metro Vancouver of 15 per cent of all trips 8 km or less made by bicycle; 50 per cent female riders; and 15 per cent reduction in fatalities and injuries by 2040.

The new plan introduces 70 steps for the city and its partners, including the Government of B.C. and Translink, to tune up cycling infrastructure, safety and awareness.

"Our new Cycling Plan provides clear direction, strategies and increased focus on this active and cost-effective mode of transportation," reads a statement from Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts in a city press release.

"The strategy is not just about building bike routes. It addresses all the factors that are important to making cycling a safe, attractive and viable transportation choice."

Some of the actions include expanding and connecting the off and on street cycling network, including more bike lanes on arterial roads and more greenways; promoting cycling as healthy, fun and safe; improving maintenance and signage on bike routes; and working with local businesses to improve bike parking and storage facilities.

The city has already committed three per cent of its $67 million capital transit budget to the cause: "With this increase, the large amount of cycling infrastructure delivered through the capital roads program, plus costsharing opportunities, along with increased outreach for education, encouragement and awareness, we believe Surrey is positioned to achieve a greater number of trips made by cycling, and safer cycling trips," reads the report.

Tim Yzerman, chair of the HUB committee for Surrey/White Rock/North Delta, a cycling advocacy group, likes the new plan overall. But he cautions the report's reliance on guidelines from Transportation Association Canada could be misguided.

"I think Surrey should really develop their own tool box of design standards, and at the same time follow some examples that are more world class than just national standards," he told The Tyee.

"Because nationally we don't have a huge amount of cycling, it's sort of a new thing, and in some areas it's a lot more established like the Netherlands and places like that."

But Yzerman says Surrey could learn a thing or two about cycling safety and infrastructure from one city in B.C.--and it isn't Vancouver.

"We could always look to Victoria, especially, because they've always had a really high amount of cycling to work. They're consistently been the highest percentage mode-share of cycling (in B.C.)," he says.

Katie Hyslop reports on youth issues and education for The Tyee.

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