July 13, 2013

Cycling Built into the Metropolis Mainstream. ~ Stephanie Sefton


Photo: Tilman Cornelius Dette

Cycling is becoming embedded into the Canadian metropolis mainstream; hopefully the rest of the country will follow.

I grew up in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Venturing out into the streets as a cyclist or pedestrian was classified as an extreme sport. Pedestrian crossings existed only in parking lots. That being said, it was understood that you ‘proceeded at your own risk.’

For many of us, we wanted to pedal our way through town but didn’t dare risk it. These activities were nothing more than recreational and definitely not meant to be on or near the roads.

Walking and cycling were not legitimate or respected modes of transportation.

I thought this was normal until I moved to Fredericton, New Brunswick. To my surprise, there were actual pedestrian crossings on main streets, bike lanes and an extensive trail system through the entire city. My bicycle was my mode of transportation and at first, these systems eased my mind—but it was only temporary. I quickly learned to hesitate at pedestrian crossings and to avoid streets as much as possible.

It was as though the idea of alternative modes of transportation was being humored but not respected or considered legitimate.

There is no argument that cycling is good for our health. Further, we can’t dispute the fact that if much of our population opted to pedal their way through the week, the decrease in emissions would be most beneficial to our environment. So, why are these modes of transportation not taken seriously in so many of our communities?

The metropolis cities of Toronto and Montreal are legitimizing multiple, healthy and green modes of transportation by embedding them into their infrastructure.

This video is inspiring to me and hope it will have the same effect on our smaller communities. These types of adaptations to our infrastructure will enable each of us to participate in making our lives and our environment a little greener.

It is time to move beyond my recycling, composting and gardening; despite a bit of fear, I am getting back on my bike—I will pedal through every puddle I can find knowing I am successfully contributing to a better world. I will not assume to tell you do to the same but I will extend an invite to everyone to join me.


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Ed: B. Bemel

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Stephanie Sefton