LOBBYING FOR BIKE LANES PAYS OFF

Ottawa – One metre bike lanes will soon be a reality on Manitoulin Island and the Bruce Peninsula. The Provincial Government’s announcement last week that one metre bike lanes will now be included in the Ministry of Transportation’s plans to resurface Hwy. 6 from South Baymouth to Little Current on Manitoulin Island, and from Tobermory to Mar is welcome news.

A few months ago, Maja Mielonen and Guy Nielen, residents of Mindemoya, and other local folks organized a rally in support of one metre bike lanes and initiated a campaign to pressure the government to reconsider their initial decision of only having half meter paved shoulders. “This is truly a monumental achievement for those of us who fought for the one meter paved lanes” stated Mielonen. “Manitoulin Island will be better positioned to promote tourism and safe cycling.” Mielonen is hopeful that a cross-Canada bike trail will eventually be realized. “I’m extremely grateful to all those who took part in the rally and everyone who assisted in actively lobbying the government on this issue” said Mileonen.

Carol Hughes, MP for Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing, who participated in the rally on May 16th in Manitowaning and wrote to Minister Wynn, was ecstatic that everyone’s efforts paid off. “This was a no brainer and an issue of common sense” said Hughes. “Manitoulin residents and tourists who enjoy cycling will certainly be much safer now that the province has given the green light to expand the shoulder to one meter.” Hughes added “This is a prime example that lobbying does work and it is thanks to people like Maja Mielonen and Guy Nielen, and all those who believed in the cause and took action, that we were able to get a positive response. I wish to thank Minister Wynne for listening to the people and the region as a whole.”

Given that more and more cyclists have taken to the roads, and that all levels of governments say they recognize the need to promote active living, it would seem that any sections of Highways and roads being repaved should automatically include the factoring in of one meter width paved shoulders.

Hwy 6 is designated part of the Ontario Bicycling Route (OBR) and therefore Minister Wynn’s announcement is an important step in improving safety of cyclists. This is also a great way to promote alternative transportation mode which helps to reduce our carbon footprints.