Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Federal Election and Cycling

No shortage of opportunities to get involved in politics these days. The provincial leadership races are almost over, only the BC Conservatives still need to pick a leader. There will be a by-election in Point Grey soon and municipal elections in the fall. More about these in future posts.

Today's topic is the Federal Election on May 2. Unfortunately, we are not very organized at the national level yet, although the BCCC is working with other cycling groups across Canada to remedy this situation. Thus, it is not particularly surprising that the platforms of the Liberal and Conservative parties do not mention cycling.

The Green Party platform includes funding for cycling infrasture and promotion, a GST exemption for bicycles and bicycle gear, a tax rebate for companies who provide facilities for commuter cycling and free access to National Parks for people who arrive by bicycle.

The Federal NDP platform for BC includes making employer-provided benefits for cycle commuting tax-free.

Still, elections are great opportunities to talk to politicians about cycling or even get to know them and their supporters better by helping them out by volunteering on their campaigns.

Ways that the federal government could encourage cycling include:
  • The development of a National Cycling Strategy 
  • Federal funding for cycling infrastructure, education and promotion. For infrastructure, $20 per person per year matched by the provinces would be a great start bring Canada up to the level of the Netherlands. 
  • Ensure that all road, bridge, transit and rail projects that receive federal funding have high-quality bicycle facilities
  • Regulations streamlining the process for implementing bicycle paths next to active rail lines
  • Regulations that require abandoned rail lines to be retained in perpetuity for use as bicycle trails.
  • Tax rebate for companies who provide facilities for commuter cycling
  • Safety standards for motor vehicles to reduce collisions with bicycles and to reduce the severity of injuries to cyclists
  • National standards for electric bicycles
  • Researching and promoting best practices
  • Developing and promoting cycling tourism in Canada
The benefits of cycling and the BCCC's recommendations are detailed in Realizing the Benefits of Accelerated Investment in Cycling and summarized in Investing in a Healthy Future. While these documents are focused on BC, much of the information is relevant at the national level as well.

Their web sites are great places to find out more about their platforms, how to get involved and who your local candidates are.

Conservatives -
Bloc Québécois -
Greens -
Liberals -

Vote and encourage your friends to vote.

Make sure you are registered to vote. More at Elections Canada.

While we unfortunately do not have the resources to survey the parties regarding their positions on cycling, we will post any information we receive on their cycling policies.

Other ways to support a National Cycling Strategy include:
Riding4Ridings is a community-based project that transports people on election day to appropriate polling stations by a fleet of BICYCLES!

Last of all, it is always a good idea to write letters.

Right Hon. Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada

Hon. Michael Ignatieff
Leader of the Liberal Party 

Hon. Jack Layton
Leader of the New Democratic Party

Gilles Duceppe
chef du Bloc Québécois

Elizabeth May
Leader of the Green Party

Your MP can be found at:


  1. Great post, Richard -- thank you. One thing we must do is make clear the economic benefits of cycling, since economics is about the only language most politicians (almost) understand. My preferred vacations are "staycations" where our family rides out to the the BC coast for a local camping or cottage holiday. We're not alone, and I suspect there would be many more of us if the infrastructure to keep us safe from harm on the highways (or better yet, off the highways) was available.

  2. Great point Ken. A good idea to write politicians telling them about your experiences with staycations and the barriers. I've added the addresses of federal politicians to the post.

    The emails for provincial politicians are in this post:



  3. I have scoured the platforms of the federal parties for their policies relating to cycling. A quick summary:
    Conservative Party – Nothing
    Green Party - 1½ pages of policy
    Liberal Party – Nothing
    New Democratic Party – Nothing.

    See cycling policies at: