© Submitted photo
Charlottetown staff and council members left their cars in their driveways for the city's Bike to Work Day June 15.
The president of Cycling P.E.I. is calling on the City of Charlottetown to add more bike lanes.
David Sims was one of 50 people who took part in Charlottetown’s first annual Bike to Work Day today.
Charlottetown staff and council members left their cars in their driveways and pedalled to work in an effort to show leadership and encourage residents to consider active transportation.
“We need more lanes in the short term with an idea to turning lanes into paths,’’ Sims said after the group finished a ride around Victoria Park. “If moms and dads are going to feel good sending their children to school riding a bicycle a bike lane along Queen Street just isn’t going to cut it.’’
One of the councillors taking part in Wednesday’s official bicycle event was Rob Lantz, who chairs the city’s integrated community sustainability committee.
The only complaint he had was with the weather.
“It was a bit chilly, but refreshing,’’ Lantz said. “It’s crucial, to maintain the health of our citizens and our environment, that we all get out of ours cars now and again.’’
Sims said a big part of getting people to do just that is making it easier for them.
“We have to talk about rearranging how we use our roads to the point where we have bicycle paths and I define that as cyclists and walkers (being) separated from the motor vehicles.’’
The city is moving in that directon. Dedicated bike paths exist out by the Charlottetown Airport and on Riverside Drive.
Sims wants to see an east-west connection from Joe Ghiz Park all the way over to Victoria Park. A logical choice, he said, would be Fitzroy Street.
Laura MacPherson, the city’s sustainability co-ordinator, is currently working on a long-term vision and was encouraged by the interest shown in Wednesday’s Bike to Work Day event.
“From the reaction to our events, the appetite is there,’’ MacPherson said. “Riding our bikes today is a symbolic gesture. We want to show that we’re committed to changing the way we think about our urban spaces.’’
Public works manager Sue Hendricken said the city continues to work on making conditions safer.
“We’ve improved our trails, identified in our parks master plan all of the city’s active streets that we want to promote as cycling routes, placed stencils on routes and put up share-the-road signage,’’ Handpicked said.
The city is also working with Stratford, Cornwall and the provincial government on a regional active transportation plan and entered a partnership to add new bike racks throughout the downtown core, designed by Shane Ross, one of the city’s firefighters.
Sims said in addition to the obvious environmental benefits, cycling will help reduce diabetes and childhood obesity.
“I think it behoves us to celebrate the changes that Charlottetown City Hall is in the midst of making,’’ Sims said.