Posted by Editoress on 09/3/09
City of Waterloo to host 'Share the Road' cycling summit, September 20 - 22, 2009
Share the road. It's a message that sounds simple enough. Yet every year, cyclists who are following the rules of the road are injured or even killed as a result of motor vehicle accidents.
Making Ontario's roads more cycling friendly is at the heart of the Share the Road summit, taking place in Waterloo this September. Over the course of the two days, policy makers, politicians, transportation specialists and cycling enthusiasts will come together for a three day dialogue that organizers hope will help set provincial standards
Says conference organizer and Share the Road Cycling Coalition founder Eleanor McMahon, “Our goal is to bring people and organizations together who have an interest in making our Ontario roads safe for cyclists. We have an opportunity to dialogue, to learn from best practices and to brainstorm ways that our roads can be more welcoming for bikes.”
“Canada is respected worldwide for its peaceful diplomatic skills, and as a nation of great tolerance,” notes McMahon. “When it comes to sharing the road, though, we just aren't measuring up. Every day, there are examples of the declining civility on our roads and the lack of tolerance for people who have chosen alternative methods of transportation. We have a tremendous opportunity to find solutions so that as cyclists, we aren't taking our lives in our hands when we set out for a lovely morning ride with friends.”
If McMahon sounds passionate about this issue, it's because she knows first hand the tragedy that can come when motorists don't share the road. In June 2006, her husband OPP Sergeant Greg Stobbart was killed in a cycling collision during an early morning training ride. Since then, McMahon has been working to engineer legislative change in Ontario and has led the development of the Share the Road - a provincial, grassroots cycling advocacy organization in Ontario.
Already influencing public policy, McMahon was the driving force behind the move that saw, Greg's Law was tabled in November 2008 in the Ontario legislature as part of a larger Road Safety Bill, Bill 126 and it passed on April 22nd, 2009.
In organizing the conference, McMahon looked to Waterloo because of the City's work in incorporating cycling friendly policies into its design and transportation planning. Says Waterloo Mayor Brenda Halloran, “We are very pleased that Waterloo will be the host community for this important summit. I know that within Waterloo there is a great interest in cycling as a healthy lifestyle choice and I believe that the dialogue that takes place here will prove yet another opportunity for us to better work with cyclists to ensure our roads are welcoming to cyclists and shared by all.”
Speakers featured during the three day summit will include the following:
Andy Clarke, Executive Director, League of American Bicyclists in Washington, D.C. In addition to his strong policy background, Clarke has managed a range of bicycle and pedestrian planning projects at the state and local levels, working extensively with advocacy groups. Come and learn about LAB's "Bicycle Friendly Communities" program. Could it possibly work in Ontario?
Congressman James Oberstar (D-Minn), Chair, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, U.S. Congress. His work includes successful adoption of the Safe Routes to School Act, a $200 million program that helps school districts combat childhood obesity by providing money to build biking and walking paths to schools, hire crossing guards, and promote safety.
Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, Madison, Wisconsin will talk about his “Go For Platinum” Bicycle Committee (Madison is currently designated as Gold under the Bicycle Friendly Community program of the League of American Bicyclists) which aims to make cycling an integral part of daily life, with the goal of making Madison a model for health promotion, environmental sustainability and quality of life.
Justin Lafontaine, founder of Bike Train Ontario, and Jim Sayers, Executive Director of the Adventure Cycling Association will share their award-winning experiences in cycling tourism.
Todd Litman, Founder and Executive Director of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute. VTPI is an independent research organization dedicated to developing innovative and practical solutions to transportation problems, whose website provides a variety of research and other resources to help improve transportation planning and policy analysis.
As well, representatives from municipalities across Ontario including York Region, Waterloo Region, Haliburton, Burlington, Oakville, St. Catharines, Peterborough, and Markham will share their strategies for cycling master planning and cycling promotion.
Representatives from four Provincial Parties, including Minister of Transport Jim Bradley have been invited to share their vision for a "Bicycle Friendly" Ontario.
Individuals and/or organizations interested in registering for the summit can do so at www.sharetheroad.ca.
About Share the Road Cycling Coalition:
The Share the Road Cycling Coalition is a provincial cycling advocacy organization. Our mission is to make Ontario bicycle friendly for everyone by enhancing access for bicyclists on roads and trails, improving safety for all bicyclists and educating citizens on the value and importance of safe bicycling for healthy lifestyles and communities. In doing so the Coalition represents all cyclists - children, tourists, commuters, recreational riders, mountain bikers and racers.
About Eleanor McMahon:
Ms. McMahon is a frequent speaker on active transportation, most recently at the 2008 National Bike Summit in Washington, hosted by the League of American Bicyclists, the 2008 National Bike Rally in Maine and the Toronto Bike Summit (2009). She continues to visit a number of jurisdictions in the United States and Europe to study best practices in cycling accommodations, law enforcement approaches, legislative, and education and awareness programs and is currently working on organizing the Ontario Bike Summit (September 21-22) in Waterloo Ontario.
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