Bike by bike, trail by trail, Transportation Choices Sunshine Coast (TraC) is moving Coasters from their motorized vehicles onto their more carbon-friendly people-powered alternatives.
Go by Bike Week, coming up at the end of the month, is a campaign aimed at getting more people to cycle more often. Locally, TraC will host free events, including celebration stations with complimentary coffee and morning snacks between 7 and 9 a.m. Monday, May 29 to Friday, June 2 outside Batch 44 in Sechelt and Home Hardware in Gibsons.
The events are a way for cyclists to connect with each other and share ideas about improving local cycling infrastructure, TraC board member Mark Wilson told Coast Reporter.
Wilson will also be looking for input on the use of the organization’s new Mobile MULTI bike and pedestrian counter.
Who funded the purchase and why?
Wilson said the idea to obtain a counter – which cost in the $5,000 range – surfaced several years ago so that the organization could help local governments understand active transportation route needs and use levels.
TraC received grants from Vancouver Coastal Health and the BC Cycling Coalition, as well as support from the Langdale Elementary Parents Advisory Committee to fully fund the purchase. The counter can differentiate between cyclists, pedestrians and other vehicles, and can be placed in different settings, such as hard-surfaced roadways or natural surface paths. It uses an infrared sensor and contact tubes to record the direction and type of traveller that is passing.
The dates and locations for the counter’s first deployment are yet to be determined. “We are still in the midst of learning how to use it, taking online courses and learning how to best maximize the data collected," said Wilson.
“We recognize that cycling on the Coast is somewhat seasonal and hope that when placements are done to keep the counter in place for one to two weeks at a time at various dates around the calendar year, to determine levels of usage and where the most popular routes are," said Wilson.
“It’s all about developing 'triple A' infrastructure, which means 'all ages and abilities.' I have been cycling for 40 years so I am comfortable with lots of different conditions but a lot of people need increased safety standards to feel safe cycling here.”
Why is more cycling infrastructure needed?
When asked if the practice of cycling for daily transportation is growing on the Coast, Wilson, who helped establish TraC in 2012 said he has noticed more cyclists on the road than he did 10 years ago.
“That’s why it's important to have the counter, so we can have those numbers. TraC has been active in trying to demonstrate cycling patterns and fill the information gaps about infrastructure that cyclists use and where more is needed." In his view, a key point raised in their successful grant applications was that “you can’t manage what you can’t measure."
“I think that we are in the midst of a global recognition period on the need to decrease our carbon footprint and transportation is a big factor in that," said Wilson. "We live in a place where cycling is accessible to people throughout most of the year and it is part of the low-hanging fruit initiatives that individuals can take to reduce their carbon footprint."