Winnipeg was one of the last major urban centres to catch on to the idea of calming circles to slow down traffic, to give way to cyclists and pedestrians on streets. And the recent decision at city hall to cancel the contract for a bike/walking strategy shows why -- and why active transportation will not be central to the transportation system any time soon.
Coun. Dan Vandal, chairman of the public works committee, says it was decided that the $400,000 would be better spent on paying for the cycling and walking routes already slated for development. That is short-sighted; it puts money into individual projects before setting out the foundation for a city-wide active-transportation system.
Truly usable routes for buses, cycling and walking must work in harmony and offer a real alternative to vehicles. A robust, co-ordinated and safe system encourages commuters to leave the car at home.
Investing in a strategy backed by vision and serious commitment would indicate Winnipeg's city council understands the broad social and health benefits of a city designed for people, not cars.
The $400,000 might add a kilometre or two to bike paths. Cancelling the strategy pushes back the real goal for years. Council needs to revisit this decision.