The Share the Road Cycling Coalition—an organization that works to enhance access for cyclists on roads and trails, improve cycling safety and educate citizens on the value and importance of cycling as active, healthy transportation—announced the most recent round of Bicycle Friendly Community awards for Ontario, recognizing those communities in the province that actively support cycling. Launched in 2010, Ontario municipalities are evaluated in five categories: education, enforcement, encouragement, and evaluation and planning, a set of criteria referred to as “the five E’s.”
With award classifications of bronze, silver, gold, platinum and diamond, recognized towns and cities receive incentives, hands-on assistance, and of course, more than a little prestige.
For 2017, the City of Greater Sudbury found its way on to the list with a bronze award—making it the 40th Bicycle Friendly Community in Ontario—while the Town of Ajax moved up from bronze level for the previous year to earn a silver designation. The City of Thorold, meanwhile, renewed its bronze designation, while Ottawa led the ranks of bike-friendly municipalities with gold status, also renewed.
The Town of Lincoln and the Town of Saugeen Shores both received honourable mentions.
Sudbury becomes one of three towns in northern Ontario, along with Thunder Bay and Temiskaming Shores, to be recognized with a bronze award, thanks to ongoing campaigns to educate the public about cycling’s benefits, as well as the allocation of staff resources and budgetary commitments to improve local cycling infrastructure. “Local organizations like Rainbow Routes and the Sudbury Cyclists’ Union have been working for years to educate people about the benefits and opportunities for cycling in Greater Sudbury,” said Jamie Stuckless, Share the Road‘s executive director, “laying the foundation for a more bicycle friendly community.” With the infusion of $1.1 million through the Ontario Municipal Commuter Cycling Program, Sudbury has even greater opportunity to make good on those commitments, Stuckless added.
Ajax, a long-time member of the Bicycle Friendly Community network, earns its status thanks to improvements in on-road cycling infrastructure, as well as the development of off-road trails. “Ajax has long been a leader in Durham Region when it comes to active transportation,” Stuckless noted, adding that the town is one of the first Ontario municipalities to adopt a Complete Streets Policy. “It’s very exciting to see them continuing to make progress and advance through the BFC ranking.”
Ajax, Greater Sudbury and the City of Ottawa, Stuckless said, have all set a strong example in areas of education, encouragement, enforcement and evaluation and planning. “We encourage all municipalities to learn from their successes as they go about building new cycling infrastructure and programs to support cycling,” she said.