Bike Winnipeg is pleased to see increased funding for active transportation in the City of Winnipeg’s 2015 Preliminary Capital Budget. Funding for bicycle corridors will remain at $1 million in 2015 and rise to $2.2 million per year by 2018, while funding for sidewalks, recreational walkways and bike paths increases from $0.75 million in 2014 to $1.4 million this year, rising to $3.2 million per year in 2017.
For the 45% of Winnipeg residents who want to cycle more often and the 49% who would like to walk more often, the healthy transportation options provided by this increased investment in budget 2015 will be a welcome addition. Budget commitments to rapid transit and street improvements (and their accompanying pedestrian and bicycle facilities) will also help build Winnipeg’s pedestrian and bicycle networks over the coming years. That’s the good part!
Budget Allocates 1/3rd Funding Needed for Pedestrian & Cycling Strategies
Yet even with this increased investment, funding for active transportation will only reach about 1/3rd of the amount deemed necessary to complete the walking and cycling networks envisioned in the City’s draft Pedestrian & Cycling Strategies released last fall. To provide the kind of safe, comfortable, connected networks that will encourage people to walk and bike much more often, a much bolder investment will be required. Worldwide, cities with the vision to make significant investments in the walkability and bikeability of their neighbourhoods are seeing rates of walking and biking skyrocket. That leads to a more livable city that attracts and retains youth and entrepreneurs, builds wealth, and creates jobs.
In Our Winnipeg, the City of Winnipeg committed itself to create a transportation system that supports active, accessible and healthy transportation options for its citizens. Adoption and implementation of the Pedestrian and Cycling Strategies is a necessary investment if we are to reach this important goal. While we recognize that the city is in a tight financial situation, we feel strongly that the city must commit itself to full funding of the pedestrian and cycling strategies to reach financial sustainability and begin to reverse the city’s infrastructure deficit.
Plan Needed to Fully Fund Pedestrian & Cycling Strategies
We sincerely hope that the mayor and council will consider the full range of financial options available to ensure that budget 2015 sets in place a firm plan to fully fund the pedestrian and cycling strategies.