Two wheels instead of four is the mantra being put forth by the proponents of the city’s Active Transportation Plan as they look to take action on the initiative.
The West Kootenay Cycling Coalition (WKCC) is advocating for more infrastructure in Nelson to help foster a deeper cycling culture throughout the city, and is looking to offer help to city staff and council in implementing its existing Active Transportation Plan.
The city has a fairly workable plan to increase active transportation, said Anna Lamb-Yorski of the WKCC in her presentation to council during its committee of the whole meeting Monday night.
“It’s robust, it’s good, it needs some updating but we have something to run with,” she said. “We would love to help implement these and any other active transportation initiatives you come up with.”
Active transportation the phrase that encompasses all forms of human-powered transportation modes such as walking and cycling, with variants like small-wheeled transport and wheelchair travel.
The trip purposes for active transportation can vary from recreational pursuits to shopping and commuter trips.
“In order for active transportation to be effective, a network must be established that integrates all modes such as transit and linkages to key facilities. It must also crucially recognize the needs of different active transportation users,” noted the author of the city’s Active Transportation Plan, Opus International Consultants’ Sarah Rocchi.
Having accessible cycling routes within the city means Nelsonites have greater access to living a healthier lifestyle, said Lamb-Yorski, and would be encouraged to do so.
Promoting such a designated city commuter cycle route was the easiest “ask” out of the five points Lamb-Yorski raised in council. The plan already had some proposed routes and there were prioritized areas of the city for snow clearing and shoulder sweeping that could coincide with cycling routes.
“(The goal is ) to try to come up with a designated cycle route and broadcast it to the community and people can have confidence that it will be in a certain condition and it will be safe for them, and motorists will also know about it,” said Lamb-Yorski.
She suggested a cycle map guide be created.
The WKCC also urged the city to update its active transportation plan and explore the plan to see if there are parts that are relevant or not.
If the city moves ahead with the ideas contained in the plan, there is money to fund the endeavour. Lamb-Yorski noted there were two major provincial programs with potential funding to help finance any city effort to construct cycling paths.
In the community profile section of the plan, Rocchi noted the city’s terrain and geographical location — featuring creeks, mountains and easy access to a wilderness environment — tended to attract residents who had an interest in active modes of transportation.
Although transportation plans for the city have focused primarily on roadway networks and infrastructure related to the automobile, almost one third of the city’s commuters use alternative modes of transportation to commute to work.
Thirty-one per cent of Nelson residents walked or cycled to work, according to the 2006 Census, compared to only a nine per cent average for British Columbia.
“The City of Nelson may want to consider providing priority to transit to provide better access, affordability and convenience for the elderly and physically impaired demographic, or it may want to devote funding to more recreational infrastructure to attract a more youthful demographic,” Rocchi wrote in the plan.
The Active Transportation Plan identified multi-use trails, pedestrian and cycling amenities and public transit improvements to increase options for human-powered forms of transportation within the city.
The intent of the plan was to encourage alternative modes of transportation in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase accessibility for all citizens.